Members from the EU parliament have been visiting Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi to see how they could be affected by a new law being drafted that would regulate export of conflict minerals.
The minerals in question include tin, tungsten, gold and tantalum. If passed, the new law would require EU companies to declare their supply chains when purchasing these minerals to prove they did not help to fund conflict in Africa’s Great Lakes region, according to a report in Voice of America.
Judith Sargentini, member of parliament from the Netherlands, is leading the charge.
“We cannot just have the U.S. work on this issue, when we are the biggest traders with Africa, and ignore this,” Sargentini said. “Europe has a responsibility to a lot of countries that are even former colonies.”
Sargentini refers to the Dodd-Frank Act, passed by the U.S. in 2010. According to a report in U.S. News, Dodd-Frank was designed to force companies such as Apple and Philips to check that the profits from the minerals they import from Congo for cell phones, iPads and other technology aren’t being used to fund the area’s conflict.
The act has resulted in a near embargo on materials from the Congo, however, hurting its economy and possibly provoking more violence as well as smuggling, according to Voice of America. Some Congolese say, however, that Dodd-Frank has succeeded in cutting funding to warlords.
The EU wouldn’t necessarily follow the U.S. lead, Sargentini said, because the goal is to encourage trade with Congo, not to stop it.
“It will not be a complete stop on commodities from Eastern Congo – even if they were mined in bad circumstances,” said Sargentini. She believes the EU trade commissioner, Belgian Karel de Gucht, who is drafting the legislation, will suggest advantages for companies that do business with Congo but do so transparently.