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Raw materials | Brussels, 16 June 2016

EU political deal to curb trade in conflict minerals

The EU has agreed on a framework to stop the financing of armed groups through trade in conflict minerals, after negotiations between the Commission, Council and Parliament. It aims for EU companies to source tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold responsibly. These minerals are typically used in everyday products such as mobile phones, cars and jewellery.

"The EU is committed to preventing international trade in minerals from financing warlords, criminals and human rights abusers", said Lilianne Ploumen, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, on behalf of the Council of the European Union. Along with the Chairman of the European Parliament's INTA Committee, Bernd Lange, INTA Rapporteur Iuliu Winkler, and the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, a political understanding was reached on a framework for an EU Regulation to stop profits from trading minerals being used to fund armed conflicts.

"This political understanding on conflict minerals will help trade to work for peace and prosperity, in communities and areas around the globe affected by armed conflict," said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. Chairman Lange agrees "we need to step up to our responsibilities and finally break the vicious cycle between the trade in minerals and the financing of conflict - today marks an important waypoint towards achieving this goal". The EU approach will build upon the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for responsible mineral sourcing.

"This framework paves the way for an effective and workable EU Regulation that will make a real impact on the ground", said Rapporteur Iuliu Winkler. The agreed framework carries clear obligations for the critical "upstream" part of the conflict minerals supply chain, including smelters and refiners, to source responsibly. The vast majority of metals and minerals imported to the EU will be covered, while exempting small volume importers from these obligations.

In addition, the Commission will carry out a number of other measures - including the development of reporting tools - to further boost supply chain due diligence by large and smaller EU "downstream" companies, i.e. those companies that use these metals and minerals as components in goods. Today's political understanding sets the Regulation on track for technical work and final adoption in the coming months.