UK cannot regress to unethical trading after Brexit, warn Labour MEPs as EU gets tough on conflict minerals trade

The European Parliament voted today to back new laws for the mandatory regulation of minerals imported into the EU, designed to break the link between armed conflict and the mineral trade – regulations Britain must maintain after Brexit, lest it regress to unethical trading practices, Labour MEPs have warned.

David Martin MEP, member of the European Parliament international trade committee, said:

“Labour MEPs knew a voluntary system would not have been effective and pushed hard for a mandatory approach and a broader coverage of the whole supply chain – this is a big victory for us. We can now show to our trading partners that the EU continues to be at the forefront of global efforts to create more transparent, responsible and sustainable business practices.

“Today’s vote represents a landmark step forward in ensuring responsibly-sourced products on our shelves. We cannot tolerate a situation where consumers buying jewellery or electronic products are unwittingly financing conflicts in some of the world’s poorest, most unstable countries.

“EU citizens have the right to know that the products they buy do not indirectly finance dictatorships abroad. It was unacceptable that the EU, through trade in minerals, was indirectly fuelling conflicts and human rights abuses in countries such as the DRC – and it would be truly unforgivable if the UK resiled from these new laws after Brexit and regressed to trading unethically.”

Notes to Editors:

1. The regulation now covers mandatory due diligence for smelters, refiners and importers of minerals and metals of 3TG (gold, titanium and tantalum-tungsten), whose imports exceed a specified annual threshold – ie. the vast majority of the imported volumes of each mineral and metal into the EU should be covered by due diligence requirements, preferably reaching full coverage of the imports of minerals and metals.

2. The OECD due diligence guidelines must serve as the overarching principle of this regulation – the recognition of existing and future (industry) due diligence schemes is a central element of the regulation. Conditions for recognition of such schemes should be robust and aligned with the OECD guidelines.

3. Recycled metals and by-products will not be covered.

4. External expertise will be called upon to provide an indicative list of conflict-affected and high-risk areas, based on existing information and identify high risk areas and areas where additional checks may be needed through a system of “red flags”.

5. The European Commission will review the functioning and effectiveness of the Regulation and discuss the review report with European Parliament. The review will assess the adequacy and implementation of the due diligence systems and the latest impact of the scheme on the ground as well as the need for further mandatory measures in order to ensure sufficient leverage of the EU market on the global supply chain of responsibly-traded minerals.