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The European Parliament voted today to back new laws for the mandatory regulation of minerals imported into the EU, designed to break the link between armed conflict and the mineral trade - regulations Britain must maintain after Brexit, lest it regress to unethical trading practices, Labour MEPs have warned.

David Martin MEP, member of the European Parliament international trade committee, said:

“Labour MEPs knew a voluntary system would not have been effective and pushed hard for a mandatory approach and a broader coverage of the whole supply chain - this is a big victory for us. We can now show to our trading partners that the EU continues to be at the forefront of global efforts to create more transparent, responsible and sustainable business practices.

“Today’s vote represents a landmark step forward in ensuring responsibly-sourced products on our shelves. We cannot tolerate a situation where consumers buying jewellery or electronic products are unwittingly financing conflicts in some of the world’s poorest, most unstable countries.

“EU citizens have the right to know that the products they buy do not indirectly finance dictatorships abroad. It was unacceptable that the EU, through trade in minerals, was indirectly fuelling conflicts and human rights abuses in countries such as the DRC - and it would be truly unforgivable if the UK resiled from these new laws after Brexit and regressed to trading unethically.”

Notes to Editors:

1. The regulation now covers mandatory due diligence for smelters, refiners and importers of minerals and metals of 3TG (gold, titanium and tantalum-tungsten), whose imports exceed a specified annual threshold - ie. the vast majority of the imported volumes of each mineral and metal into the EU should be covered by due diligence requirements, preferably reaching full coverage of the imports of minerals and metals.

2. The OECD due diligence guidelines must serve as the overarching principle of this regulation - the recognition of existing and future (industry) due diligence schemes is a central element of the regulation. Conditions for recognition of such schemes should be robust and aligned with the OECD guidelines.

3. Recycled metals and by-products will not be covered.

4. External expertise will be called upon to provide an indicative list of conflict-affected and high-risk areas, based on existing information and identify high risk areas and areas where additional checks may be needed through a system of "red flags".

5. The European Commission will review the functioning and effectiveness of the Regulation and discuss the review report with European Parliament. The review will assess the adequacy and implementation of the due diligence systems and the latest impact of the scheme on the ground as well as the need for further mandatory measures in order to ensure sufficient leverage of the EU market on the global supply chain of responsibly-traded minerals.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

UK cannot regress to unethical trading after Brexit, warn Labour MEPs as EU gets tough on conflict minerals trade

The European Parliament voted today to back new laws for the mandatory regulation of minerals imported into the EU, designed to break the link between armed conflict and the mineral...

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Labour MEPs have warned that Theresa May must urgently build bridges with her fellow EU leaders, and listen less to the hardline ‘no deal’ Brexiters, after European Council President Donald Tusk told the European Parliament today that Europe will not be “intimidated” by threats, and that failure to reach a deal would hurt Britain more than the EU.

Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament, said:

“The signs are there, from Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande, and now Donald Tusk: threats and intimidation from the UK government are building hostility amongst our European partners and are making it harder to build the alliances we need to get a good deal.

“The prime minister lacks allies and ideas, seemingly alone and isolated in the EU, apparently more comfortable in the presence of Donald Trump than Donald Tusk. If this attitude persists, we risk crashing out of the European Union with either a dire deal or no deal at all.

“Theresa May needs to stop being led down the path favoured by Nigel Farage and the ‘no deal’ masochists on her front and back benches, and start building her relationships with her fellow EU leaders and negotiating partners. If she doesn’t, we will end up with a truly disastrous WTO Brexit, with high tariffs, job losses and economic chaos.”

Notes to Editors:

1. Here is Donald Tusk’s speech to MEPs this morning:
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/15-tusk-report-european-parliament/

These are the remarks on Brexit:

“Brexit was not on our agenda last week, but let me share two remarks, given that this is our last meeting before the UK triggers article 50.

“I will do everything in my power to make sure that the EU and the UK will be close friends in the future. Britain will be dearly missed as an EU Member State. At the same time, I would like to stress again that the EU's door will always remain open for our British friends.

“When it comes to negotiations, we will have no choice but to start the withdrawal talks once the UK notifies. We are carefully preparing for these negotiations, in close consultation with Member States and the European Parliament. It is our wish to make this process constructive, and conducted in an orderly manner. However, the claims, increasingly taking the form of threats, that no agreement will be good for the UK, and bad for the EU, need to be addressed. I want to be clear that a 'no deal scenario' would be bad for everyone, but above all for the UK, because it would leave a number of issues unresolved. We will not be intimidated by threats, and I can assure you they simply will not work. Our goal is to have a smooth divorce and a good framework for the future. And it is good to know that Prime Minister Theresa May shares this view.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Labour MEPs: May must ignore ‘no deal’ masochists and heed EU chief’s Brexit warning

Labour MEPs have warned that Theresa May must urgently build bridges with her fellow EU leaders, and listen less to the hardline ‘no deal’ Brexiters, after European Council President Donald...

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The European Parliament voted today to strengthen EU firearms legislation, backing plans for better cross-border information-sharing, tougher rules on the use and deactivation of the deadliest weapons, and enhanced monitoring of the medical condition of gun users - measures the UK must maintain after Brexit to keep Britain safe, Labour MEPs warned.

Catherine Stihler MEP, vice-chair of the European Parliament internal market and consumer protection committee, said:

“These new laws are vital for public safety and security. Thousands of people have been killed by firearms in the EU over the past decade, and these new regulations will mean the most dangerous weapons are subject to greater restrictions or are irreversibly deactivated.

“MEPs have also led the way in ensuring more sharing of information between national agencies and better monitoring systems for checking the medical conditions of firearms users, while preserving the rights of lawful owners.

“Britain has in the past led the way in firearms regulation, for example, the handgun ban, and it is vital we continue to do so. We must keep these new measures and carry on cooperating closely with our European partners after Brexit.”

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, added:

“This new legislation will play an important role in strengthening the EU’s security and anti-terrorism agenda in response to criminal and terrorist attacks.

“Thanks to the key role played by MEPs, the laws will improve European security by ensuring more effective information sharing among authorities, stronger rules on the deactivation of the most dangerous weapons, and medical checks of users. All while maintaining legal gun owners’ rights.”

The proposals will now go forward to the EU Council of Ministers for final approval, becoming law 15 months later.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

UK must keep newly-strengthened EU firearms laws after Brexit, warn Labour MEPs

The European Parliament voted today to strengthen EU firearms legislation, backing plans for better cross-border information-sharing, tougher rules on the use and deactivation of the deadliest weapons, and enhanced monitoring...

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