Answer given by Mr Tajani on behalf of the Commission
In the communication on raw materials adopted in February 2011, the Commission recognises that many of the raw materials which the EU imports are produced in a few countries, some of which are subject to low political and economic stability. For one of these increased-risk countries — the Democratic Republic of Congo — the OECD considers that trade in certain minerals, namely in tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold, has a potential to exacerbate regional conflict in specific eastern Congolese regions. One of these materials — tantalum — is also deemed a ‘critical raw material’ for the EU, in part due to the risks related to its supply from Central Africa.
The Commission is closely involved in the ongoing efforts to address the issue of conflict minerals at the OECD and strongly supports the OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals and its supplements of the 3Ts and the currently developed supplement on gold. On 25 October 2011, the Commission approved a new European Strategy on Corporate Social Responsibility, in which it invites large European enterprises to make a commitment to take account of internationally recognised CSR guidelines and principles, such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and proposes to monitor such commitments. The new strategy also highlights the importance of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and commits the Commission to issuing a report in 2013 on EU priorities for the further implementation of those principles.
The Commission notes that the EU has imposed, under Council Regulation (EC) No 1183/2005(1), sanctions against individuals or entities supporting illegal armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo through illicit trade of natural resources. Moreover, the Commission is closely following the implementation of the US Dodd-Frank Act and its impact on the Democratic Republic of Congo minerals' trade. As the finalisation of the proposed rules of the Dodd-Frank Act has been postponed, further analysis is necessary to evaluate the impact of this policy.
In the context of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy Action Plan 2011-2013 and its priority on raw materials, the Commission is actively involved in capacity-building and transparency enhancing work. One example is the Workshop on Mining Taxation to be held on 9-10 December in Addis Ababa. The Commission is also examining ways to improve the traceability by among others a designated expert Working Group on management of natural resources in conflict and post-conflict area in the framework of the Joint Africa-EU Action Plan.