Agreement on forced labour ban : a future without modern slavery

Author: Hugues Stéphane Beaudouin



Forced Labour

Renew Europe welcomes last night agreement on the new legislation banning products produced using forced labour. This will assure consumers that the products they buy are produced in compliance with international labour conventions.

Worldwide, 28 million people are in forced labour, according to the International Labour Organization. It was therefore a necessity for the European Union to set a solid framework to address this issue.

The new legislation establishes a procedure that will launch an investigation conducted by the competent authorities to check if suspected items have been produced using forced labour. In case a product was manufactured using forced labour, it may not be placed in the EU or exported from the EU. If the product is already on the market, the economic operator will be required to remove it from the market. Sanctions will be imposed if a company fails to comply.

All businesses, including SMEs, will be affected to ensure that this legislation is widely and effectively applied. The text covers all items made accessible on the EU market, including products manufactured in the EU and imported goods, independent of sector or industry.

As a major achievement for Renew Europe, the European Commission will be considered as a competent authority, next to the national authorities. It will have the power to assess a situation where there’s a suspicion of forced labour. It will also have a coordinating role.

Renew MEP Samira Rafaela (D66, Netherlands), EP co-rapporteur, said : “This law is ground breaking in the field of human rights. It will prevent forced labour products from entering our market. And it has several references to remediation. It is a step forward in achieving fair trade and cleaning up supply chains, while prioritising human rights. To combat forced and state-imposed labour, we must work with like-minded partners and become a strong ally in the global fight against forced labour.”

Renew MEP Svenja Hahn (FDP, Germany), shadow rapporteur for IMCO said : “The regulation must help to combat modern slavery and ensure fair competition by eradicating the EU internal market as a market for products made from forced labour. The following technical negotiations will show how practical the law will be.“


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