On March 19, the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament (INTA) met to debate the amendments to the conflict minerals regulation that were proposed by its members. The amendments reflect the views of the political parties that have been expressed in the ongoing discussions in the committee. The debate focused on the question of mandatory versus voluntary self-certification procedures for importers of minerals from conflict affected areas. The other key issue that MEPs raised in the discussion was a list naming responsible importers. An amendment to accomplish this was proposed by the committee’s rapporteur, Luliu Winkler (EPP, Christian Democrat). The representative from the European Commission responded to the points raised in the debate and restated the Commission’s view that the mandatory system would disrupt supply chains and would not lead to a balanced and reasonable solution.
In March, two other European Parliament committees considered the draft regulation. On March 9, the Development Committee (DEVE) adopted its opinion on the proposed conflict minerals regulation. The DEVE opinion would change the proposed system of due diligence from voluntary to mandatory. The DEVE opinion is now annexed to the INTA report, and will be considered by the INTA Committee in its final vote on the issue. On the same day as the DEVE vote, the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) voted on its own draft opinion. However, AFET failed to reach consensus, and the draft opinion did not receive the required votes to be adopted.
The next step in the legislative process is the INTA meeting on April 14, at which the INTA amendments to the draft report, including the annexed DEVE opinion, will be voted on in its entirety. The final report that emerges from this vote will then be voted on in the plenary session of the European Parliament in May.