A good cooperation on accompanying measures and support for SMEs: some of the key factors for an effective implementation of the Conflict Minerals Regulation

Iuliu Winkler (EPP), Vice-Chair of the International Trade Committee in the European Parliament has co-hosted a working lunch, together with MEP Patricia Lalonde (ALDE) and the European Federation of Jewellery on sustainable value chains for minerals.

His remarks, below:

“It is a great pleasure for me to be here today, at the event organized together with the European Federation of Jewellery, to discuss sustainable value chains for minerals, and the role of industry in this regard.

As rapporteur of the Conflict Minerals dossier in the EP, I am happy to see good engagement on this important matter, and I am particularly glad to have involvement of both public and private sector representatives. A good synergy and cooperation between public and private stakeholders is vital.

Moreover, I am keen to discuss the implications for our SMEs, believing that smaller companies and individual entrepreneurs need as much legal clarity as possible and simple bureaucratic frameworks in order to be beneficiaries of EU legislation. This is valid for all sectors of our legislative agendas – we need to empower and facilitate the growth of our SMEs, not to overburden them. As First Vice-President of SME Europe of the EPP, I have always strived for the inclusion of entrepreneurs in our legislative process, and I supported all endeavours to better inform and further assist SMEs.

Moving on to the concrete picture of the Conflict Minerals Regulation (CMR), I would like to highlight certain key aspects. The CMR was adopted in May 2017. Its due diligence requirements for Union importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, which are in line with the OECD five step approach for responsible supply chains of minerals will apply as of 1 January 2021.

The Commission, Member States (MS) and companies are already undergoing preparations on accompanying measures to ensure the correct and effective implementation of the Regulation. Some aspects related to implementation, such as the recognition of due diligence schemes and the thresholds for small volume importers are to be established through Delegated Acts. Here, I have been informed that DG Trade and other relevant DGs are well under way with preparations.

The Commission has thus already put together non-binding guidelines for the implementation of CMR and the definition of Conflict Affected and High Risk Areas has been published in the Official Journal. MS have also been proactive in setting up the national competent authorities that will oversee the CMR´s implementation. The MS expert group has furthermore been meeting regularly to discuss implementation and enforcement of the regulation at national level.

Additionally, I salute the fact that the Commission has successfully engaged in fulfilling some informal commitments that were taken during the negotiations, including a transparency platform for downstream companies, or the translation of the OECD due diligence guidelines.

Yet another important point is represented by the EU´s efforts for global outreach. The ambition of the EU CMR has always been to cooperate with our international partners in order to bring about a better due diligence system at the global level. While cooperation with the US and China on this matter has been more complex, I am happy to hear more positive news from Switzerland and India on standards concerning gold, and seeing Colombia also moving forward on its agenda for more responsible sourcing of minerals. I continue to support the Commission in its efforts for international cooperation and exchanges of good practices. Together with the support of the OECD, we can showcase to our partners that a good regulation, coupled with an effective implementation can indeed lead to positive results on the ground and can facilitate our efforts to move towards sustainable and responsible supply chains for minerals.

In conclusion, I would like to highlight three main points. Firstly, as rapporteur, I am pleased to see that the file is moving towards a solid implementation, based on the commitments and engagement from all relevant stakeholders. Secondly, I want to underline that Parliament will continue to be active, and will contribute procedurally through the Delegated Acts process. Finally, I am confident that a good cooperation between policymakers and industry, together with smaller enterprises and economic operators will lead to good results in the implementation phase of the Regulation”.