Speech to World Jewellery Confederation
Diamond Industry Exhibition - EP - 27th May 2008
Mr President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests
It's a great pleasure and a privilege to welcome The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) to the European Parliament. I'm delighted to be sponsoring this exhibition. There are two reasons I decided to do so. The first reason is the importance of the diamond industry, both to the producer states – many of which are developing countries in the ACP and to Europe's economy.
One of the most significant aspects of securing the long-term stability of the diamond industry for both producers and consumers is terminology. As the EU single market has grown we've seen how important standardisation has become as a guarantee of quality. The diamond industry is no different. I fully support the CIBJO's efforts to standardise diamond terminology across the EU. This will increase consumer confidence in the diamond industry and help to lay the foundations for the industry's sustainable growth in the future.
Standardisation is so important because the diamond industry is changing rapidly. Historically the diamond market revolved around mined stones, but technological advances mean that now it's possible to synthesise diamonds in a laboratory. I'm the last person to complain about competition, but customers need to know what they're buying. A lack of standardisation and clear terminology risks damaging consumer confidence, undermining the diamond industry and impact negatively on economies which are reliant on the diamond industry for revenue and jobs.
The second reason that I'm proud to be supporting this exhibition is that I am profoundly impressed by the lead that the CIBJO has taken to transform the ethical dimension of the diamond industry.
The CIBJO, in partnership with governments, organisations and its industry peers, contributed much to the Kimberley process – a system designed to assure the provenance of diamonds and thereby end the trade in stones from conflict zones or so called "blood diamonds". I'm delighted that the European Parliament has given such strong support to the Kimberley process. Last year the EU chaired the Kimberley process and continues to remain heavily involved. As founder and co-president of the European Parliament Friends of India I'm pleased to say that India has taken on this responsibility in 2008.
I'm also pleased to say that my friend the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Indian Embassy to the EU, Mr Lokesh, has been able to join us today. Indeed, the presence here today of distinguished ambassadors, public officials, politicians and industry experts underlines the vitality of this coalition and the integrity of our common purpose.
They say that diamonds are forever – well, this exhibition sadly is not going on forever, only for a few days. However, I am sure of the importance of the CIBJO's terminology standardisation campaign to the future health of the diamond industry. Equally, I am sure that the changes in diamond sourcing and certification pioneered by CIBJO will endure, and become a testament to what socially responsible global industries such as de Beers, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto can achieve in partnership with legislators for the benefit of humanity.