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Raw Materials: a blessing or a curse?


no ranking for this case

Topic: Raw Materials

Policy recommendations

  • The European Union should allow ACP countries to maintain their sovereignty and policy space in relation to the appropriate use of their own natural resources. They should be able to use investment regulations, tariff barriers and export restrictions to promote equitable, local and sustainable economic development.
  • The European Commission through its development policy should stimulate resource-rich developing countries to implement their own industrial policies, to protect their infant industries by using legitimate barriers to trade, and by introducing environmental measures. This should allow resource-rich developing countries to move up the value chain, so that the added value to (semi) processed products will remain in the country of origin and would thus stimulate economic development.
  • Within its development budget the EU should allocate sufficient resources to the building of energy and environmental infrastructure to enable developing countries to stimulate economic development.
  • The EU should use its political and economic power to set clear rules in relation to the extraction of raw materials. Like suggested in the February 2011 RMI update an EU code of conduct for EU companies operating in third countries should be developed and measures should be taken to enforce such a code of conduct.
  • In order to provide for more transparency in the supply chain and to minimize the role of European companies in fuelling conflicts over resources, the EU should implement Country by Country reporting, following the US example of the Dodd Frank Act.
  • Within the EPA negotiations the EU should be more flexible as suggested in the RMI update and make sure developing countries can demonstrate the use of export taxes as a policy tool and therefore keep using them.
  • In all policy initiatives and actions elaborated on the basis of the strategy laid down in the Raw Materials Initiative that affect developing countries, DG Development should be closely involved, and ACP partner countries and civil society organisations should be consulted.




EU reaches agreement on conflict minerals
On 16 June 2016, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU member states reached a joint agreement on conflict minerals. Companies will now be obliged to check if their purchases of minerals indirectly finances conflicts. The new, binding rules are expected to enter into force within a few months. - 30-06-2016

MEP Karol Karski (ECR) asks question about ‘blood’ minerals
Minerals that are used in aviation industry, the electronics industry, the car industry as well ass in jewellery are often extracted illegally in Africa, and the money is used to finance conflicts. MEP Karol Karski (ECR) asked a question about this to the Commission. - 16-09-2015

Miguel Viegas asks question about illegal tin mining in Indonesia
MEP Miguel Viegas (GUE/NGL) has asked the Commission if it is aware of the situation in Indonesia, where illegal tin mines are prospering due to a long and complicated supply chain. This leads to serious environmental and social consequences and thousands of people are being forced to work in subhuman conditions. - 01-06-2015

MEP's vote for binding rules on conflict minerals
On the 20th of May 2015 the European Parliament voted on conflict minerals. The European Parliament wants to end the link between minerals in phones, laptops and other electronic devices and human rights violations in countries such as Democratic Republic of the Congo. - 29-05-2015

MEP Staes asks questions about phosphate mining in Western Sahara
According to MEP Bart Staes (Greens/EFA), the extraction, sale and purchase of phosphorus in Saharan mines is unethical and constitutes a human rights violation. There have been conflicts in the Western Sahara ever since it was annexed by Morocco in 1975, and UN security forces are in place to calm the situation. - 22-04-2015

Trade committee in European Parliament misses opportunity to end trade in conflict minerals
On the 14th of April, the international trade committee (INTA) of the European Parliament voted on the proposal for setting up a Union system for supply chain due diligence self-certification of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. - 20-04-2015

MEPs ask questions to the European Commission about regulation of conflict minerals
Recently, there has been increased attention by MEPs for conflict minerals in written questions. This is most likely related to the current proposal under review by the European Parliament, based on voluntary regulation of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold from conflict-affected areas. You can read more about this proposal here. - 20-04-2015

MEPs amend draft report on proposed regulation of conflict minerals
On the 24th of march, the European Parliament committee for International Trade published amendments to the proposal for setting up a Union system for supply chain due diligence self-certification of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. - 13-04-2015

MEP Szejnfeld asks question about the sale of minerals in the EU mined in breach of the law
On the 27th of February, MEP Adam Szejnfeld of the European People’s Party (EPP) asked a written question to the European Commission on the sale of minerals that are mined in breach of the law. - 26-03-2015

No more conflict minerals: ALDE and EPP groups are holding the cards!
On the evening of March 9th, all political groups within the Development committee of the European Parliament voted in favour of a mandatory system that applies to all companies importing tin, tungsten, tantalum or gold as raw materials, semi-final or final goods. While this is of course very good news, the fate of the legislation all depends on the vote in the International Trade committee. - 12-03-2015

MEP’s amend draft opinion on certification of conflict minerals
On the 7th of January, DEVE rapporteur Bogdan Brunon Wenta (EPP) published his draft opinion on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council setting up a Union system for supply chain due diligence self-certification of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. In this draft opinion his main message is that the certification system should be mandatory and not voluntary, as it stands now in the proposal. He also emphasizes that the proposal for regulation should be seen from a broader international perspective, including development cooperation. Since his draft opinion emphasizes essential steps in contributing to sustainable natural resources management and policy coherence for development, we reward him with two points in our ranking. - 18-02-2015

MEP’s ask question about the proposed regulation on conflict minerals and development cooperation
In 2014, The European Commission proposed a new legislative proposal on conflict minerals (discussed in the European Parliament on the 4th of December). MEP’s Louis Michel (ALDE), Linda McAvan (S&D), Bogdan Brunon Wenta (PPE), Seb Dance (S&D), Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA), Lola Sánchez Caldentey (GUE/NGL) and Ignazio Corrao (EFD) asked a question about the impact of this proposed legislation on developing countries. - 04-02-2015

Breaking the resource curse: The ball is now in the European Parliament’s court!
On the 4th of December, a public hearing was organised in the European Parliament, to discuss and reflect on the legislative proposal on conflict minerals. Whereas some might say that the current proposal lacks ambition (especially civil society organisations), others support the proposal in its current form (as one might expect, mostly industries). In the end, the proposal aims to break the link between resource extraction and armed conflicts. - 10-12-2014

U.N. Security Council lifts export ban on diamonds from Ivory Coast
On the 29th of April, the U.N. Security Council eased a decade-long arms embargo on Ivory Coast and removed a ban on its diamond exports, a measure that U.N. experts said had failed to stop illicit trafficking. - 10-05-2014

MEP Hall draws attention to ‘Blood Minerals’ from North Korea
A recent UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights in North Korea published some very worrying observations regarding human rights abuses and the use of political prisoners for hazardous slave labour in North Korean mines. - 17-04-2014

MEP Tarabella criticizes Commission’s conflict minerals proposal
The Commission's legislative proposal on the sustainable supply of minerals from conflict zones is not rigorous enough to provide any guarantees that European companies' mineral purchases are not funding conflicts or human rights violations.  - 17-04-2014

MEP Dodds asks the Commission’s attention for unregulated gold mining in northern Nigeria
In some parts of northern Nigeria at least 460 children died and nearly 2000 were poisoned as families tried to exploit the area’s natural resources to stave off poverty. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), unregulated gold mining in northern Nigeria is causing blindness, brain damage and paralysis among children, as well as making adults infertile and even causing death through what HRW has called the worst incident of lead poisoning in modern history. - 17-04-2014

ACP countries and EU member states come with joint resolutions
Joint Parliamentary Assembly - 09-04-2014

MEP Casa asks question about Commission proposal on conflict minerals
MEP David Casa (EPP) asked a question to the Commission concerning the voluntary nature of the recent Commission proposal on conflict minerals. - 05-04-2014

EU proposal on conflict minerals dissapointing
The law proposed on the 5th of March by the European Commission on responsible sourcing of minerals falls far short of expectations and is too weak to prevent European companies’ mineral purchases from financing conflict or human rights abuses. - 11-03-2014

MEP Kaczmarek asks questions about EU policy on conflict minerals
MEP Kaczmarek (EPP) has asked two questions about natural resources and conflict minerals. He asked about the latest developments on the Commission initiative concerning conflict minerals, and about the Commission’s stance towards the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the CAR. - 24-02-2014

Conflict Minerals Update
The European Commission is working on a proposal about conflict minerals. This proposal should prevent that armed groups controlling mines, profit from the trade in minerals as tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold. Examples of armed conflict funded by trade in minerals can be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but also in Colombia. The proposal of the European Commission is delayed and is expected to be public in the Spring of 2014. - 17-12-2013

MEP Meyer (GUE/NGL) asks questions about European involvement in trade of conflict minerals
MEP Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL) pays in his question attention to the trade in coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Often coltan mines are under the control of armed rebel groups. Profits made from these mines through trade, often by illegal trafficking of the goods to Rwanda and export of the coltan from there, contribute to the remaining problem of conflict in the DRC. With the questions of Willy Meyer, attention is paid to European involvement in this conflict. - 17-12-2013

Questions about upcoming legislation on conflict minerals
MEPs Michael Cashman (S&D), Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA), David Martin and Marc Tarabella (S&D) asked questions about upcoming legislation on conflict minerals that is expected to become public by the end of 2013. They not only ask questions, but also pose recommendations to the European Commission. - 19-11-2013

Raw Materials: A raw deal for developing countries?
On the 2nd and 3rd of October, the S&D Group in the European Parliament organised a conference on raw materials. In this conference the focus was on raw materials and developing countries. - 16-10-2013

Extractive Industries and Development: A Responsible Business Practices View
Tuesday, the 17th of September, MEP Judith Sargentini (Greens) of the Committee on Development organised a public hearing about the promotion of development through responsible business practices and especially focused on the role of extractive industries in developing countries. In the hearing there was a balance between the input of NGOs which gave practical examples of the impact of extractive industries and the European point of view which focused more on (proposed) legislation. - 19-09-2013

Bütikofer: Copper/gold mine project is a non-starter and deeply flawed
MEP Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA) wants to know what the position of the Commission is regarding the financing of the Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold mine project in southern Mongolia by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which gets a bad review by several NGOs and experts. - 23-04-2013

Representatives of EPP and Greens/EFA connect conflict in CAR to mining and rough diamond trade
MEPs on behalf of the EPP group and MEPs on behalf of the Greens/EFA have prepared a motion for a resolution 'with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure on Central African Republic (CAR) (2013/2514(RSP))'. In their resolutions both groups make an important remark about diamond trafficking and the management of mining. - 05-02-2013

MEP Hadjigeorgiou asks question on oil companies in the Niger Delta
In his question, MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou (GUE/NGL) refers to recent news articles in which is noted that oil companies are casing irreparable damage in the Niger Delta. The Nigerian parliament is considering measures, such a fine on the responsible companies. Hadjigeorgiou asks if the Commission is aware of this issue. The behaviour of European companies in third countries is an important issue when it comes to development. Therefore we thank Hadjigeorgiou for his question and reward him with one point in our monitor. - 05-12-2012

Marita Ulvskog asks question on EU law on conflict minerals
MEP Marita Ulvskog asks the Commission what the status is of the promised proposal with regards to conflict minerals, how it will incorporate the relevant OECD guidelines, and when the proposal will be presented. - 20-11-2012

MEP Sargenitini asks question on EU and Dodd-Frank Act
In her question to the Commission MEP Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA) refers to the Dodd-Frank Act of the US, which requires companies to report on their use of conflictminerals. Sargentini asks the Commission on the consequences of this policy for the EU and EU companies, why the EU has not cooperated with the US to establish a common piece of legislation, if the Commission expects EU countries to adapt to this legislation and when it will come with a proposal how the EU will combate trade in conflict minerals. - 20-11-2012

MEPs Franco and Saïfi ask question on Transparency of extractive industries and traceability of minerals
MEPs Gaston Franco and Tokia Saïfi (both EPP) address in their question to the Commission the importance of transparency of the extractive industries and the traceability of minerals for democratic stability and economic development. - 20-11-2012

MEP Kiil-Nielsen asks question on EU legislation on mining in conflict areas
MEP Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (Greens/EFA) points to the recent violence in Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the American Dodd-Frank Act and the Dutch project 'conflict-free tin'. She asks the Commission when it will initiate legislation with the aim to develop a supply chain outside the control of armed groups. Furthermore, she asks why it has failed to act up to now. - 20-11-2012

MEP Gomes asks question on transparency and conflict minerals
MEP Ana Gomes (S&D) asks the Commission to outline in what ways it is monitoring and measuring implementation of the OECD due diligence standards by European companies trading or using in their manufacturing processes any or all of the following: tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold and "by companies importing these minerals into the EU?" - 20-11-2012

Martin asks question about transparency in supply chain
David Martin (S&D) asks a question about the commitments the Commision has made on transparency in the supply chain in order to help prevent natural resource-fuelled conflicts. - 31-10-2012

Fair Politics goes Rwanda!
In March we officially launched our impact study on the EU Raw Materials policy and mining in Rwanda in the European Parliament. With different EU institutions and civil society organisations present  the launch was an interesting and successful gathering! At the launch the findings of the research, Rwanda’s experiences with mineral certification and its efforts to add value to its mineral export were discussed. Mister Augustin Bida from the Rwandan federation of mining cooperatives was our special guest and gave us many interesting insights about the mining sector in Rwanda. During the debate it became clear that all participants had the same goal: develop a transparent and structured dialogue to create more Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) and make sure that African nations like Rwanda start benefiting from their raw materials. Fair Politics supports this goal and hopes that the launch increased awareness on PCD and in particular on the EU Raw Materials strategy and its importance for development! - 04-04-2012

MEP Aylward: Transparency needs to be improved
3.5 billion people live in countries rich in oil, gas and minerals. With good governance the exploitation of these resources can generate large revenues to foster growth and reduce poverty. However, when there is a lack of transparency and governance is weak, it may result in poverty, corruption, and conflict. - 27-03-2012

MEP Rossi asks about WEEE compliance
In 2009, the European Commission adopted a directive on electronic waste (e-waste). This so called WEEE (waste electric and electronic equipment) directive requires Member States to collect electronic waste separately in order to increase the recycling of electronic devices and to fight illegal export of e-waste. Despite this directive, the illegal dumping of hazardous electronic waste still takes place on a large scale. African and Asian countries that are used as dumping ground are hit the hardest, and in effect their soil and water resources are being polluted by toxic materials such as lead, arsenic, beryllium and cobalt. - 11-01-2012

Concerns over minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), some of the critical mineral raw materials that are essential to EU markets are mined. These critical minerals are used for i.e. electronic devices. MEPs Dan Jørgensen (S&D) and Syed Kamall (ECR) have expressed their concerns on the mining of these minerals in the DRC. - 11-01-2012

MEP Aylward asks about sustainable trade and development
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated that a new international development architecture is needed to assist developing countries with their development of sustainable trade and development and to reverse their marginalisation. In our case study on the Raw Materials Initiative (RMI) we have shown that indeed trade in raw materials is often unfair and incoherent with development policies. - 11-01-2012

MEP Koppa questions the Commission on illegally dumping of hazardous electronic waste in West Africa
Referring to information from the NGO the Environmental Investigation Agency, MEP Maria Eleni Koppa (S&D) posed questions about illegally exporting and dumping of hazardous electronic waste (e-waste) in third-world countries by British companies. - 10-10-2011

Adoption ITRE report on effective raw materials strategy
On September 13th, the ITRE report on an effective raw materials strategy for Europe by rapporteur Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA) was adopted by the European Parliament. The European industry is facing an increasingly difficult situation with regards to the supply of raw materials (RM), due to a growing global demand for RM and a lack of supplies. The report makes several proposals to increase the effectiveness of the Raw Material Initiative. - 28-09-2011

Raw Materials discussed thoroughly in the European Parliament!
On behalf of the ITRE committee, Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA) wrote 'an effective raw materials strategy for Europe' as the European industry is facing an increasingly difficult situation with regards to the supply of raw materials. This is particularly the case for the 14 critical raw materials, which the European Commission identified. Increasing global demand coupled with a lack of supplies due to long lead-times in the mining industry and the increased use of export restrictions by resource-rich countries, are not only pushing prices to record heights, as is the case with copper, but are also leading to potential supply shortages. - 28-06-2011

Raw Materials and transparency hot topic among various MEPs
The Raw Materials Initiative set up in 2008 leads to many discussion and questions among MEPs. In the first place this initiative could lock resource-rich developing countries in a situation where they have no choice but to remain net exporters of raw materials, instead of being given the chance to develop their own downstream industries and move up the value chain. This outcome conflicts sharply with EU developments objectives, as to better integrate developing countries on the world market. In the second place, the raw material industry is subject to many financial scandals. - 12-05-2011

MEP De Rossa questions the Council on the European Conflict Minerals law
MEP Proinsias De Rossa (S&D) asked a question to the Council on the European Conlflict Minerals law. In this question he wonders the response of the Council to the call on Failure in protection of human rights and justice in the Democratic Republic of Congo. - 26-04-2011

ALDE group questions Commission on Rare Earth Elements
In the last weeks and months, many questions have been asked to the Council and the Commission on Rare Earth Elements (REE). Most of the questions were however about, how Europe will safeguard its position next to China. As currently, China controls 97% of the world production of REE imports, the EU is dependent on China, which announced significant export restrictions as a reply to the global demand for REE. - 17-03-2011

MEP Patriciello concerned about waste disposal and raw materials
Fair Politics follows the EUs Raw Materials Initiative (RMI) and the incoherence between this initiative and the  EUs development policy (see our case study on the RMI). In its new communication which was published at the beginning of February, the Commission is taking some steps in the right direction as it points to the sustainable exploitation of natural resources, combined with the creation of a sound investment climate as one of the main drivers of growth in Africa. Nevertheless the good suggestions made like for instance the possibility of introducing Country by Country reporting, and investigating the policy goals of export resrictions, will still need to be put into practice The European Union, as Africas most important trading partner and donor of development aid, should help lift developing countries out of poverty by investing in the sustainable management of their natural resources, in good governance and in promoting sound financial management. - 24-02-2011

MEP Michel wants a European Dodd-Frank Act
Fair Politics has already referred to the American Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in previous news items, because MEPs continue to pay attention to this topic. This time Louis Michel (ALDE) asked the European Commission why the European Union (EU) has not yet introduced similar legislation. The significance of the Dodd-Frank Act is not just about reforming Wall Street. More important is the legal obligation for extractive companies to disclose information on the origins of the raw materials and whether their payments are used to fund conflicts in developing countries. Michel provides the example of the DRC as a clear case where this has happened in the past. - 24-01-2011

Collier: ‘Brussels was build on the plunders of Congo, and should not make the same mistakes again!’
On the 6th and 7th of December the 5th edition of the European Development Days (EDD) were organised in Brussels by the European Commission and the Belgian presidency. During the EDD many high level meetings and side events were organised by the European Commission and civil society on current topics in relation to developing countries. On the afternoon of the 6th Fair Politics contributed to the EDD by the organisation of a side event on Policy Coherence towards the good governance of natural resources. We organised this side event together with the Belgian Natural Resources Network, the Alternatrade project and Forum Syd. - 13-12-2010

S&D MEPs advocate for new European law for the extractive industry
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the best known example of a country suffering from the resource curse. When looking at the natural resources reserves it is one of the richest countries is the world, since it has for instance 80% of the worlds coltan reserves and 30% of the diamonds reserves. Yet today the DRC is one of the poorest countries where human rights are violated on a daily basis. Two S&D MEPs Marc Tarabella and Ana Gomes asked questions to both the European Council and the European Commission about the relationship between resources and the desperate human rights situation. - 02-12-2010

Fair Politics at the European Development Days
The European Development Days will take place in Brussels on December 6th and 7th. In cooperation with the Belgian platform on Natural Resources and more NGOs active in the field of raw materials, Fair Politics is organising a side event. The topic is policy coherence toward the good governance of natural resources and its contribution to sustainable development. How to change the European Raw Materials strategy in order to fulfill the goals of internal and external sustainable development. Paul Collier (University of Oxford) will be among the speakers, as well as Claude Kabemba (Southern Africa Resource Watch). There will also be representatives of the European Commission and the Belgium Presidency. Fair Politics is inviting everybody who is interested to visit this event. - 15-11-2010

Raw Materials Round Tables with MEP Merkies (Update)
Fair Politics in cooperation with Member of Parliament Judith Merkies (S&D) is hosting a series of expert round tables in relation to raw materials. Raw materials, often found in developing countries, are running out because of the dramatic population growth and increase in use due to economic and technological development. This will have problematic consequences for the whole industry, whether at the beginning or the end of the production chain and on development in general. - 23-06-2010

The Raw Materials Initiative and Policy Coherence for Development under discussion in our Expert Meeting
On Tuesday the 17th of November, in a room deep into the busy European Parliament, the Fair Politics Expert Meeting on the Raw Materials Initiative (RMI) and Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) took place. This meeting aimed to create awareness and debate on this potentially tricky initiative launched by the European Commission in November 2008 by bringing together policy makers from the European Commission, European Parliament Members, NGOs, business and experts from both Europe and Africa. The Fair Politics case study working paper on the issue was also to be launched. All this in order to prevent the RMI from being developed into an aggressive strategy in favour of European industries. - 18-11-2009