The European Federation of Jewellery at the forefront for sustainable value chains for minerals
The European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ) was acknowledged once again as a valuable and proactive contributor to the discussion on sustainable value chains for minerals, during a lunch-debate co-chaired by MEPs Patricia Lalonde and Iuliu Winkler on the 28th of November in the European Parliament.
The event, titled “The role of the European jewellery sector in strengthening sustainable value chains for minerals”, enabled fruitful exchanges among the numerous and high-level participants on two EFJ’s priority topics: the implementation of the so called “conflict minerals regulation” and the ongoing reform of the Kimberley Process.
MEP Patricia Lalonde welcomed the positive dynamic going on between governments, businesses and civil society organizations, cooperating together to make the EU trade policy fairer and more accountable. She was echoed by MEP Iuliu Winkler, European Parliament rapporteur on Regulation (EU) 2017/821, who reiterated the importance of a joint involvement of the private and public sectors to ensure a good implementation of the new due diligence rules.
The representatives of the jewellery sector stressed the need to put in place the right conditions to have a simple, ambitious and coherent implementation of the Regulation. In particular, they underlined that the EFJ is fully committed to cooperate with the European institutions during the implementation phase and welcomed the decision of the European Commission to establish equivalence criteria to help companies which already comply with other recognised due diligence systems.
The representatives of the European Commission, Mr. Handley and Mr. Westrup, outlined the measures taken to ensure effective implementation of the Regulation and reiterated its commitment to deliver also the accompanying measures. In particular, the European Commission informed the meeting about the launch of a project to establish an online SMEs Due Diligence Support System. This capacity-building platform will help SMEs to apply the ‘OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas’. The system will be available in different languages and open to all companies that want to develop and implement due diligence of mineral supply chains, irrespectively whether they have obligations under the Regulation. The representatives of the European Commission also took the opportunity to announce that the EFJ has been selected to become a member of the Advisory Board, a body which will be created to advise the European Commission on implementation of the envisaged SMEs Support Measure.
Regarding sustainable value chains for diamonds, Ambassador Philippe Beke, Senior Policy Advisor on the Kimberley Process at the European Commission, evoked the punctual progress made during the latest Plenary of the Kimberley Process, among others improving the label on the provenance of rough diamonds as “Country of Mining Origin” instead of “Country of Origin”. The Plenary adopted four Administrative Decisions and more notably, consensus was reached on the need for enhancing effectiveness and for follow-up on strengthening the Process scope. Ms Karla Basselier, Head of Public Affairs at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, recalled that the jewellery and the diamond sector strongly advocate for the strengthening of the Kimberley Process and for its expansion beyond its current mandate. “This is a needed but difficult reform,” she said.
During the lively debate between the representatives of the sector, Members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission and the Member States, many parties agreed on the need to enhance the ground work with the mining countries in order to support their socio-economic development.
Ms Bernadette Pinet Cuoq, EFJ President, concluded by reiterating the willing of the EFJ to remain at the forefront of the discussion on ethic and fair value chains for minerals and by stressing the important role played by consumers in pushing towards this evolution.