European conservatives fail to take a stand against conflict minerals, says S&D Group

European conservatives fail to take a stand against conflict minerals, says S&D Group

Despite today's negative vote from conservative forces on conflict minerals, in the international trade committee in the European Parliament, the S&D Group will continue its efforts, until the final vote in the plenary session in May, to convince MEPs of the need for a new global standard for the responsible sourcing of minerals. The Group is highly concerned by the abusive exploitation of mineral sources and child labour in this type of activity. S&D MEPs underlined that mining can be a source of economic development, but without controls and safety measures, unfortunately it becomes dangerous and inhumane.

Marie Arena, spokesperson for the S&D Group on conflict minerals said:

"We are fighting for robust and binding legislation in order to guarantee that enterprises have the capacity to trace the minerals entering their production facilities and throughout the entire supply chain.

"The international trade committee in the European Parliament voted this morning on regulation from the European Commission regarding the responsibility of enterprises in relation to conflict minerals.

"The proposal of the S&D Group, which would have made this legislation mandatory for the enterprises, was not passed, with 22 members voting against it and only 16 in favour.

"The conservatives in EPP, ALDE, ECR along with the extreme right decided to adopt a hypocritical position, which will have no impact on those suffering in conflict zones.

"The Dodd-Frank Act, passed in the United States in 2010, made it mandatory for American enterprises to abide by an ethical conduct in relation to conflict minerals, the attitude of the European conservatives leaves Europe lagging behind other areas of the world in relation to business ethics.    

"This attitude is unacceptable but we're not giving up the fight on this issue. In the plenary session of the week of the 18th of May, MEPs will be voting on the final text. I hope that in this upcoming plenary session those MEPs that were crying for the victims of the conflict minerals during the speech of Dr. Mukwege (Sakharov Prize winner 2014), who publically stated his support for the mandatory approach advocated by the Socialists, will demonstrate the same humanity when it comes to their voting."

David Martin, S&D Group coordinator for trade, added:

"Today's vote was a sad reflection of the conservatives' and liberals' attitude towards fair trade and development.

"A mandatory scheme is absolutely vital to stop the European Union being complicit in the devastation caused by the trade in conflict minerals. The EU should be leading the way on this.

"We have had voluntary guidelines in place for 5  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."