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Sustainability // Legislation


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European Parliament Considering Conflict Minerals Regime

As summarised in a recent article in National Law review, the European Parliament is currently considering its opinion on the ‘self-certification’ of importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten, their ores or gold for a future EU conflict minerals regime. The draft regulation as proposed by the European Commission was a mishmash solution aiming to emulate the OECD Guidance on due diligence of minerals, and the US Dodd Frank 1502 legislation but failing on both counts putting forward requirements on importers of not only tin metal, but tin alloys into the EU, while at the same time failing to address import in downstream products. While the Commission proposal is applicable to materials arising in any ‘high risk’ area around the world, it fails to identify where those areas are, and similarly, although stating an ambition to manage all links between resources and conflict, is only applicable to the four metals already covered by Dodd Frank which significantly limits its impact. Many Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) criticized the Commission for a ‘lack of ambition’ with the proposal and are now discussing how to make it both more effective, as well as more appropriate for EU business.

Three Committees of the European Parliament are considering the proposal, with draft opinions from the Committees on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and Development (DEVE) calling for a mandatory rather than voluntary mechanism, and AFTE also extending reporting from importers of metals and alloys, to ‘public-interest entities and large undertakings that manufacture or contract to manufacture products containing [conflict minerals]’ in a similar manner to Dodd Frank. The lead Committee on International Trade (INTA) proposes to make use of existing knowledge and activities under a less damaging voluntary approach. MEPs will be able to amend the draft INTA report until February 26. Information on the legislation 2014/0059/COD and process is available here.

Belgium takes action on coatings in contact with food

Chemical Watch reports that Belgium has notified the European Commission of a draft proposal for a royal decree on the regulation of varnishes and coatings, intended to come into contact with food.

The text sets out criteria for their manufacture as well as methods of analysis used to verify compliance. The order also includes an indicative list of substances, used in the manufacture of varnishes for materials and articles intended for food contact.

There is currently no European regulatory text concerning varnishes in contact with food, which, Belgium says, leads to uncertainty for authorities and industry. The text proposed, it says, will ensure a high degree of consumer safety.

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