Laurence


Due diligence

Position paper on mandatory due diligence

The European Federation of Jewellery supports the idea of an EU- wide cross-sectorial legislative framework on due diligence provided that the future requirements are coherent with the ones already in place and that a level playing field is ensured for EU companies at the international level.

On the 29th of April, Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, announced to the European Parliament Responsible Business Conduct Working Group that the European Commission plans to propose a legislative initiative on mandatory due diligence in 2021. Commissioner Reynders further specified that the legislation will be cross-sectorial and will include enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance and access to justice for the victims.

The European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ) supports the idea of an EU-wide cross-sectorial legislative framework on due diligence and is ready to take a proactive role in the decision-making process.

In this respect, the EFJ would like to point out that the European jewellery sector is preparing to comply with EU Regulation 2017/821 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of minerals originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas, that will become applicable from the 1st of January 2021. The EFJ has been cooperating with the EU decision-makers all along the legislative process to make sure that the Regulation took into consideration the specificities of the European jewellery sector, a sector mainly composed of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), with limited human and financial resources.

The EFJ welcomed the adoption of the Regulation and noted with satisfaction its alignment with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) framework as well as the provisions making it possible for industry / private sector schemes to be recognised as compliant with the European rules. The Federation was also an active contributor in the process that led to the creation of a set of tools aimed at supporting SMEs to comply with the regulation. The EFJ indeed thinks that all the actors in the jewellery sector should comply with the EU Regulation 2017/821 as a medium-term objective.

Furthermore, the EFJ would like to recall that the European diamond sector, which is an essential component of the jewellery sector, is committed to improving transparency and accountability in the global diamond value chain through the Kimberley Process (KP), an international certification scheme established in 2003 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond trade.

In light of the considerations above, the EFJ would like to invite the European Commission to build the new framework on the basis of existing schemes such as the so-called Conflict Minerals Regulation and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in order to avoid any duplication of legal requirements which would lead to an increased administrative and financial burden on EU companies or even create incentives to companies to relocate their activities outside of the EU. The EFJ notes that it will be more difficult, or even virtually impossible, for EU companies to comply with the new legislative framework if coherence is not ensured between the new requirements and the ones already in place.

To this aim, the EFJ invites the European Commission to perform a thorough impact assessment as well as an analysis of the existing schemes to clearly identify potential compliance issues.

The EFJ would like to invite the Commission to also take into consideration existing third-party’s schemes such as the Responsible Jewellery Council’s (RJC) Code of Practices (CoP). The RJC is an industry-driven body and its CoP integrates the OECD guidelines into a special framework for jewellery companies to handle and trade gold, silver, platinum-group metals as well as diamonds in a way that is fully traceable and responsibly sourced. The RJC has already applied to have its certification schemes recognised as compliant with EU Regulation 2017/821 and thus represents a valuable example of due diligence for the jewellery sector.

Furthermore, the EFJ urges the Commission to ensure a level playing field for EU companies at international level in order to support European competitiveness. The EU trade policy could play a crucial role in this area and the Commission should promote the future EU legal framework in international fora, through bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and political high-level contacts.

Commissioner Reynders stressed that the new EU rules would be mandatory and that enforcement mechanisms will also be put in place. In this respect, the EFJ would like to underline that the Regulation should also incorporate a supporting mechanism to promote compliance and tools to support EU companies during the implementation phase. A specific and agile framework should be envisaged for SMEs to encourage them to incorporate due diligence into their business model without increasing the administrative and financial burden. The cross-sectorial EU legal framework on mandatory due diligence should include a transition period of at least 3 years before entering into full force to allow national governments and companies to adapt to the new regulation.

The EFJ believes that an EU-wide cross-sectorial legal framework on due diligence has the potential to significantly influence the way EU business will conduct their operations in the future and will define an ambitious threshold for countries and companies globally. However, it is essential that the new rules are pragmatic and implementable, and this can be achieved only by fully involving all stakeholders in the discussion and by taking into consideration the challenges and needs of the different sectors as well as their specificities.

Download: EFJ position paper – Mandatory due diligence – September 2020

Diamond terminology

Position paper on the New EU Consumer Agenda: the case of diamond terminology

On the 6th of October, the European Federation of Jewellery sent its contribution to the European Commission on the consultation on the New EU Consumer Agenda. By its answer, the EFJ wished to flag the issue of diamond terminology, that can be misleading for the consumer.

Here are the key points:
❖ The EFJ applauds the European Commission’s willingness to reinforce consumer rights by proposing a new EU Consumer Agenda. The Federation considers that consumers must receive full and accurate information on the products they buy in order to make informed choices.
❖ The EFJ is committed to contributing to the current reflection of the European Commission in order to shape an ambitious European consumer policy up to today’s challenges and wishes to flag the issue of diamond terminology in this position paper.
❖ Protecting consumers against misleading and fraudulent advertising practices on diamonds, which own high financial and emotional value, is perfectly in line with the current EU political agenda. To achieve this goal, the EFJ advocates the adoption of an EU legal (or legally binding) definition that would:

  • define the characteristics of a natural and synthetic diamond and the fundamental differences between them.
  • oblige the trade to accurately inform consumers, by means of a certificate, about the jewellery product they are purchasing.

Download:

EJF position paper: new consumer agenda: the case of the diamond terminology

EFJ infographic: Diamond terminology

The European Federation of Jewellery mobilised and ambitious in this year of European elections

The General Assembly of the European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ) took place in the prestigious setting of the buildings of the French Union of Jewellery, Silverware, Stones and Pearls (UFBJOP) in Paris on the 1st of April. An exciting visit to the Haute École de Joaillerie (Higher School of Jewellery Arts) opened this day full of discussions. A few figures suffice to show the history and fame of the oldest jewellery establishment in the world: 151 years of existence, 600 students and 12 workshops.


Under the auspices of Bernadette Pinet Cuoq, President of the UFBJOP and EFJ, the discussions allowed for further reflection about the full application of the mutual recognition principle for European jewellery products. Such an application would significantly facilitate the free circulation of jewels throughout the European Union.


International trade was another topic. The EFJ reaffirmed the importance of maintaining an open European trade policy towards third countries and is currently working to identify the main tariff and non-tariff barriers that prevent the European jewellery sector from reaching 60% of consumers in the world.


2019 will also signify a year of change, as the European elections will substantially modify the political landscape. The EFJ will be equal to this challenge with the development of a new awareness and communication strategy. The members of the Federation will notably meet the newly elected Members of the European Parliament in October in Strasbourg.


At the dawn of the advent of a new European Parliament and a new Commission, the EFJ remains more mobilised than ever. “The European jewellery sector is faced with a growing number of challenges. We decided today to include the issue of synthetic diamond in our mandate. The EFJ will advocate for the implementation of a specific customs code to differentiate synthetic diamond from natural diamond.” concluded Ms. Pinet Cuoq.

Limits for Cash Payments

Position paper for a harmonised cash payement ceiling

The European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ) has been proactive on the issue of cash payment thresholds, notably by providing inputs to the 2018 report on restrictions on payments in cash. The Federation will continue to be a force of proposal in the future discussion and looks forward to working with the European Commission on the legislative proposal aiming to reinforce and develop the EU single rulebook.

The EFJ welcomed the adoption on the 7th of May of the “Action Plan for a comprehensive Union policy on preventing money laundering and terrorism financing.” The Federation fully agrees with the overall objective to reinforce the fight against money laundering notably by addressing “the major divergences in the way [the current legal framework] is applied.” The Action Plan rightly points out that “the current approach to EU legislation has resulted in a diverging implementation of the framework across the Member States and, partly, in the setting of additional requirements that go beyond those implied by EU law. Examples of such measures are (…) the introduction of limitations to payments in cash.”

Key points of the position paper:

  • Different ceilings for cash payments in business-to-consumer transactions go against the internal market principles, have serious economic impact and can be a cause of money laundering.
  • Cash restriction limits often differ also within the Member States creating unjustified discriminations between residents and non-residents.
  • Due to its market structure, the jewellery sector is particularly exposed to the current lack of harmonisation in the cash limit rules within the EU.
  • Cash remains the preferred form of payments in the Euro area: on top of ensuring the protection of personal data, it is universally accepted, costless, flexible and allows the immediate closure of payments.
  • The EFJ urges the European Commission to put forward an EU initiative aimed at harmonising the limits for cash payments in business-to-consumer transactions by proposing a proportionate ceiling which takes into consideration the different necessities and sensibilities of EU citizens.

Download:

EFJ position paper – For a harmonised cash payment ceiling

EFJ infographic – For a harmonised cash payment ceiling

News

Busy and fruitful meeting day in Brussels for the EFJ

On the 21st of April, a delegation of the European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ), headed by its President, Bernadette Pinet Cuoq, had a series of successful meetings with several representatives of the European Commission. The objectives were to raise awareness about the sector and its main challenges as well as to exchange on several key issues: COSME, the European support programme for SMEs, the EU policies in favour of creative industries, conflict minerals, market access and opening of third countries’ markets and cash payment limits.

Regarding the implementation of the newly adopted EU conflict minerals regulation, the EFJ reiterated its commitment to work with the European Commission, the OECD and the other stakeholders to enhance the due diligence responsibilities of its members.

An ambitious and proactive approach was also defended during the high level meeting with the Cabinet of Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs. The EFJ advocated the adoption of a European harmonisation of cash payment thresholds in order, notably, to achieve a level playing field between the economic actors on the European territory.

The representatives of the European Commission welcomed warmly the EFJ and were happy to get information on this high value sector. This first day of fruitful meetings set the foundation for a deeper involvement of the Federation in the European scene.