On 4th December 2014 the European Parliament held a public hearing to discuss initial views on the mineral self-certification regulation for EU importers put forward by the Commission. The proposal is contradictory in its objectives, claiming to be based on the OECD Guidance for due diligence on sourcing minerals from high risk areas, but limiting the scope to only those minerals already affected by Dodd Frank – this is despite the fact that the OECD guidance does, and the Commission proposal declares to, apply to all minerals, from all high risk areas around the world. This arbitrary choice was one of the points discussed during the hearing, with much support from the experts present to extend the scope to all minerals globally. Tyler Gillard of the OECD emphasised that any EU regulation should mirror the existing guidance, and recognise industry schemes that have been established in the last few years, ensuring that the audits should be required at the smelter level only, since companies handling products further downstream to the consumer cannot track back to the mines of origin.
The progress made by the tin industry through the iTSCi programme was highlighted by several speakers, and it was noted that this is a voluntary action started before Dodd Frank or even the OECD Guidance was drafted. This is an important fact since whether the regulation should be voluntary or mandatory was a key part of the debate among members of the Parliament, who concluded that this question is less critical than the effectiveness of the rule, also stating that an objective must be to ensure that the EU does not do harm to the affected supply areas in the same way that Dodd Frank is frequently criticised for. In their statement, the External Action Service of the EU was clear that this proposal would not solve conflicts, and highlighted that support for positive measures for the affected areas at the same time as any trade limitation would be critical.
ITRI is extremely concerned by the general lack of understanding of the complex factors underlying these human rights, market, trade and foreign policy issues and joins the call of other business associations for an urgent technical meeting with the EU institutions so they may come to an informed decision. Of particular concern is the arbitrary identification of some tin alloy bar and wire products within the scope, while other end products are seemingly not included. The Commission originally claimed that the scope would be limited to importers of pure metal but this is not reflected in the current draft, and similarly, secondary materials are also not yet specifically excluded. The regulation is expected to be further discussed and finalised during the course of 2015. We encourage any company with concerns about the current text and any suggested amendments to forward this information to ITRI. The proposal and relevant documents can be found here;