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During the last week of January, I met with policy advisors for the European Parliament (EP) Socialists & Democrats (S&D), Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and European People’s Party (EPP) to discuss the EU conflict minerals legislation.
In each of the meetings, I introduced IPC’s EU Conflict Minerals White Paper which supports the European Commission (EC) proposal to create a voluntary, self-certification system for importers to the EU of conflict minerals. IPC also advocates for the inclusion of measures to exempt verified recycled minerals. All of the advisors I met with supported the Commission’s proposed global scope, as opposed to the Dodd-Frank focus on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and adjacent countries. The proposed EU legislation would not include a list of affected and high risk areas, instead companies are expected to do this. All of the advisors I spoke with believe that it is politically impossible to change this aspect of the legislation.
Following IPC’s lobbying meetings on February 3, 2015, Iuliu Winkler, the EP Rapporteur, issued his draft report on the proposal for a regulation of the EP and of the Council setting up a Union system for supply chain due diligence self-certification of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. The report was issued by the Committee on International Trade, which has lead jurisdiction on the conflict minerals legislation.
Amendments proposed by the Rapporteur include the addition of language to address scrap metals in a manner similar to that under Dodd-Frank; a two year transition to establish EU certification for responsible importers; and language amending the Directive 2014/95 to require large companies (greater than 500 employees) to disclose conflict minerals information.
Also on February 3, Bogdan Brunon Wenta issued a draft opinion with the proposed amendments supported by several members of the EP Committee on Development. Amendments proposed by the Committee on Development include a number of statements about the significance of the human rights issues and the criminal complicity of those continuing to engage in trade of conflict resources; requirements for mandatory certification; and mandatory due diligence reporting and auditing requirements for the entire supply chain including finished products containing conflict minerals.
The Development Committee is scheduled to vote on their amendments on February 24. Amendments approved by the Development Committee, along with other amendments submitted, will be voted on by the International Trade Committee in either March or April. The legislation is expected to be brought to all members of the EP for a vote in May. During the plenary, any member of the EP may propose an amendment, including those that were rejected by the International Trade Committee. Following the plenary vote, the legislation must be approved by the European Council, which is made up of a representative from each EU member country. If the Council does not support the legislation, as approved by the EP, they will return the legislation to the EP for further consideration and amendment.
Given the wide variety of opinions and proposed amendments on the conflict minerals legislation, it is hard to predict what will be included in the final legislation or when it will be passed into law. IPC will continue to stay involved, advocate for our members and keep you informed.
About the Author:
Fern Abrams is the Director of Government Relations and Environmental Policy for IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries. She is responsible for advocating member positions in the areas of environment, health and safety, tax, trade, intellectual property and other regulatory issues. Current activities focus on conflict minerals regulations; implementation of best practices for protecting intellectual property, research and development tax credits, international materials restrictions, hazardous waste, and environmental reporting and record keeping.