CSR State of Play and Future Perspectives

 

In February the European Commission published a new report on its raw materials initiative. The EU and its member states are increasingly worried about securing access to raw materials for European companies because of the rise of China, and also of India and Brazil. The main focus of the European raw materials strategy is not on reducing the consumption of raw materials and on looking for alternatives but on securing the European supply through the pursuit of 'raw materials diplomacy'.

 

In June the Industry, Research and Energy Committee of the European Parliament is expected to approve its report on the Commission's new raw materials initiative. Together with other NGO's, AEFJN presented amendment proposals to the draft report. However, considering the conservative majority in the European Parliament, it will be difficult to gather support for all our requests.

 

The issue is likely to remain dominant also over the next months, but the fears of both European governments and European enterprises create an environment where it will be difficult to draw attention to our concerns.

 

The European Commission has promised repeatedly to present a legislative proposal in line with the American Dodd-Frank Act. The Dodd-Frank Act requires multinationals quoted on Wall Street to disclose their payments to foreign governments. The French and the British government have expressed their support to this measure, but business lobbies already expressed their concerns. It is therefore important to remain vigilant and keep up the pressure on the Commission to ensure that it lives up to its promises. 

 

The Dodd-Frank Act also contains an obligation for purchasers of minerals originating from conflict zones to prove that this did not contribute to the enrichment of armed groups. This aspect of the legislation is more controversial as representatives of the Congolese mining sector have expressed their fear of not being able to live up to the requirements and therefore be unable to continue exporting to the US. The EU has not yet taken a clear position on this aspect of Dodd-Frank, but there can be no doubt that a solution needs to be found to stop the minerals trade fueling conflicts, such as the one in the Congo.

 

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which oversees Wall Street and is charged with implementing Dodd-Frank, has in the meantime announced that it will postpone the implementation until December 2011. This means we will have to wait longer before we see the first tangible results of the Act and be able to measure its impact.

 

 

Thomas Lazzeri

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