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Critics want tougher EU rules for use of materials from exploited miners

Loek Essers | May 19, 2015
The EU needs to impose stronger disclosure requirements over companies whose products contain materials from African mines controlled by warlords. Those companies include makers of computers and consumer electronic products.

In April of this year, the European Parliament's International Trade Committee voted to apply some changes to the draft, proposing mandatory transparency rules that would apply only to about 20 smelters and refiners that import raw materials.

But this proposed change would still let the vast majority of companies importing products containing these minerals entirely off the hook, the groups said.

Meanwhile, MEPs have filed hundreds of amendments in an effort to make transparency rules binding for companies importing consumer electronics and semi-finished products, said Judith Sargentini, MEP for the Greens.

If the amendments are adopted, not much would change for tech companies that are publicly traded in the U.S., which must comply with the SEC requirement, unless they have separate supply chains for the EU and the U.S. However, European tech companies like Philips and Ericsson would be required to reveal more about their supply chain, as would the European automotive industry, which has been actively lobbying against mandatory transparency rules, Sargentini said.

While a vote in a Parliament committee is often a good indication of how the vote will go in the plenary, this time it's going to be a close call, she said. "The pressure on colleagues has been increased lately and I cannot predict which way it will go."

The Parliament will debate the issue on Tuesday before the vote on Wednesday. After the vote, the draft will still have to be negotiated and approved by the Council of the EU, the EU's third legislative body that consists of EU country ministers.

 

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