Efforts to prevent the trade in minerals from fuelling armed conflict abroad were yesterday (14 April 2015) blocked in the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee as Conservative and UKIP MEPs, bowing to corporate pressure, opposed plans for full mandatory trading rules.
MEPs were debating plans for a proposed voluntary certification system with the aim of decreasing the trade in gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten that has originated from conflict zones and is used mainly for components of electronic goods on sale in Europe
David Martin MEP who coordinates the work of the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group on the trade committee and had co-tabled Labour's proposals, said:
"A fully mandatory scheme is absolutely vital to stop the European Union being complicit in the devastation caused by the trade in conflict minerals. With the US and China already running mandatory reporting schemes, it is shameful that the EU looks likely to fall short on these proposals.”
“We have had voluntary guidelines in place for five years and over 80% of companies have chosen not to publish any information on their supply chain due diligence. Conservatives and liberals now have to explain why they bowed to corporate pressure and supported a weak and unenforceable system.
"Most people would be horrified to discover that that these minerals that have been linked with terrible human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and other conflict zones can be found in the electrical products that they use every day. Labour MEPs have been campaigning for legislation on this issue for some time, so it is hugely disappointing that now we have a chance to act, tough action is being blocked by a coalition of right wing parties."
Despite losing today's vote, David Martin and his fellow Labour MEPs have vowed to re-table their tougher proposals before the new EU rules are put to the all MEPs for approval in May.
“This was a progressive package that would have drastically improved human rights around the world” concluded Mr Martin.