The European Parliament unexpectedly voted today to require mandatory conflict minerals certification by companies in the European Union (EU).
The European Parliament voted 402 in favor versus 118 against with 171 abstentions on a proposal to require companies, including electronics firms, that buy gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten to certify imports do not provide financial support to conflict. The regulation applies to all conflict-affected high risk areas in the world, of which the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes area are the most obvious example.
The leftist and green euro-Members of Parliament at the last minute succeeded in passing amendments for an obligatory system by 378 to 300 with 11 abstentions, in a vote to challenge a more pro-business proposal from the European Commission that would have made conflict-free certification voluntary.
The legislation is expected to be blocked by EU governments who fear it would impose an unrealistic burden on business. Under the EU co-decision process, the legislation must also be approved by the EU Council, which is made up of representatives of the EU governments.
IPC has been actively involved in lobbying for voluntary conflict minerals requirements by highlighting our experience with Dodd-Frank implementation and the difficulty of implementing conflict minerals tracking through long and complex supply chains. On May 4-6, IPC Director of Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations Fern Abrams represented IPC at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Responsible Supply Chains Forum on conflict minerals where the EU proposed legislation was discussed. On May 8, IPC joined other leading European trade associations in issuing a joint statement encouraging the Members of the European Parliament to adopt the report, as voted on by the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament (INTA). The INTA report would have made mandatory the proposed voluntary system of certification for EU smelters and refiners and would exempt recycled metals.
IPC is assessing the vote and reaching out to other stakeholders on next steps to ensure that the EU Council continues to address industry concerns on conflict minerals.