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EU ‘conflict minerals’ proposals now being debated by EU decision-makers

By Rania Georgoutsakou, director, Europe Public Policy, SEMI

As the EU draft legislation on ‘conflict minerals’ now makes its way through the European Parliament and national governments, a number of proposals to change the original draft and create additional burdens for downstream users are being voiced.  SEMI in Europe is advocating  for a voluntary scheme that focuses on the upstream supply chain and that has the same product and geographic scope as the already existing schemes (including the US Dodd-Frank Act).

The EU proposals in a nutshell

European Union

The draft EU regulation sets up a voluntary self-certification scheme for importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum and their ores and gold originating from ‘conflict-affected and high-risk areas’.

Under the original draft, importers may voluntarily choose to implement an internal due diligence process, based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines. They will report the proportion of minerals originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas as well as a list of smelters from which these originated annually. Based on the information received from importers, the EU will create a list of responsible refiners and smelters, namely those who source responsibly from conflict zones, with the aim of incentivizing legitimate trade.

In contrast to the US Dodd-Frank Act requirements on ‘conflict minerals’, the EU scheme focuses on the upstream supply chain (importers, smelters, refiners) and creates voluntary due diligence, risk management and reporting requirements for importers choosing to apply the scheme. The EU suggests that the EU scheme will support the global supply chain in complying with the US Dodd-Frank requirements by encouraging and facilitating the flow of information and certificates through the supply chain.

SEMI Advocacy on EU proposals for ‘conflict minerals’

As the EU draft regulation on ‘conflict minerals’ makes its way through the legislative process, there are a number of calls to change the original proposals, in particular to:

• Introduce a mandatory scheme
• Apply the scheme to downstream users also
• Include additional minerals in the EU scheme

At the urging of its global membership, SEMI Europe Advocacy is urging legislators to ensure the EU proposal is consistent with existing schemes and does not create additional requirements or burdens on downstream users.

SEMI is meeting with Members of European Parliament and national government representatives to advocate for the following key issues:

• Maintain the voluntary nature of the scheme without sourcing restrictions.
• Maintain the product focus on tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – to remain consistent with existing schemes.
• Maintain the focus on importers and the upstream supply chain – a downstream user relies on the information they attempt to obtain from their upstream supply chain.
• Clarify the geographical scope of the EU scheme – currently the scope is global and there is no definition nor criteria for what constitutes a ‘conflict affected’ or ‘high-risk area’. SEMI believes the EU scheme should have the same geographical scope as the US Dodd-Frank Act.
• When reviewing the EU scheme, also consider evidence of positive impact in the conflict-affected areas.

To reinforce our advocacy work, SEMI is collecting information from members, in particular equipment manufacturers and their suppliers, on their experience in complying with the US Dodd-Frank Act. This information will be made anonymous and shared with EU legislators to demonstrate the difficulties for the downstream supply chain to comply with a mandatory scheme, especially for producers of high-mix, low volume products that do not have a strong control over their global supply chain.  For more information and to get involved, please visit the SEMI Europe website or contact: Ms. Rania Georgoutsakou, gourania@semi.org; +32 2 609 5334.

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