BRUSSELS – The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to ban all products that contain “blood metals” sold by African warlords, but the legislation is likely to be blocked by EU governments who fear it would impose an unrealistic burden on business.
The surprise result marked a defeat for the pro-business European People’s Party (EPP), the parliament’s biggest grouping, who need fellow centrist allies to pass laws following last year’s EU elections where protest parties did well.
The European Parliament voted 402 in favour versus 118 against with 171 abstentions on a proposal to require companies, including electronics firms, that buy gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten to certify imports do not finance warlords in Africa.
“Parliament votes for mandatory transparency against conflict minerals. Big success!” tweeted German Green Ska Keller after the vote in Strasbourg as some lawmakers broke out in applause while others stood in huddles, surprised by the result.
The result is set to paralyse the bill because European Union governments say firms across the 28 EU countries cannot track materials from small mines all the way through commodity exchanges to component manufacturers and the final product.
Greens, centre-left and protest lawmakers from the far-left and far-right gained critical mass in the vote to challenge a more pro-business proposal from the European Commission that would make blood-free certification only voluntary.
While party discipline is traditionally poor in the European Parliament, the result bodes poorly for the grand coalition that the centre-right and the centre-left had hoped to form to channel European Commission proposals through the 751-seat body.
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