Eliminating the trade in minerals that finance armed groups has come a step closer, with the European Parliament and European Council reaching a final agreement on new EU regulation on tackling conflict minerals. The new legislation, proposed by European Greens, will force companies that extract and trade in minerals to do so responsibly. Such minerals are commonly used in electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Green development spokesperson, Judith Sargentini MEP, who was responsible for drafting the legislation, said:
“This deal is a major breakthrough in responding to the problem of conflict minerals and shows the EU is finally accepting the seriousness of this problem. For the first time in Europe, firms involved in the extraction and trade of minerals will be obliged to check whether their supply chain has links to armed conflicts and human rights abuses, and to address problems where they occur.”
Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, welcomed the news:
“This shows that Greens in the European Parliament can initiate important legal change for the common good. The news will be particularly welcomed by people in places like the Congo, where armed groups and Congolese military use profits from trading in minerals to finance campaigns of violence against civilians. Only full transparency on the source of all minerals will end the terror inflicted on so many, which is why this outcome is so welcome.”
Greens will continue to campaign on the issue of conflict minerals as there are still concerns about potential loopholes. In particular, firms processing the minerals and producing the final consumer products, such as tablets and smartphones, are not currently subject to binding rules.