E.U. finally making progress against forced labor - FreedomUnited.org

E.U. finally making progress against forced labor

  • Published on
    April 23, 2024
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  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Law & Policy, Supply Chain
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It has been a big week for the European Union as the Members of the European Parliament voted on several important pieces of legislation. Most importantly for us, a law that will ban the sale, import, and export of goods made with forced labor and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) were passed and now present a way forward in the battle against forced labor in supply chains.

Banning products made with forced labor

The anti-forced labor regulation was adopted with a majority of 555 votes in favor, six against, and 45 abstentions. Lawmakers introduced it after growing concerns about forced labor in supply chains of cotton and solar panel industries, both of which are tied to the exploitation of Uyghurs in China.

This new law would allow E.U. member states to investigate suspicious goods, supply chains, and manufacturers and intercept them before goods enter the European market, as well as prohibit the sale of respective goods. Companies that fail to comply would face fines. Only if the manufacturers can prove that they have eliminated forced labor from the supply chains of their products, the products will be allowed to reenter the European Union.

“Today, worldwide, 28 million people are trapped in the hands of human traffickers and states who force them to work for little or no pay. Europe cannot export its values while importing products made with forced labour. The fact that the EU finally has a law to ban these products is one of the biggest achievements of this mandate.” – Maria-Manuel Leitao-Marques, Portuguese MEP

CSDDD for corporate accountability

Just a day later, the CSDDD was adopted by the European Parliament with 374 votes in favor, 235 against, and 19 abstentions. This directive will require companies and their supply chain partners to prevent, stop, or mitigate their adverse impacts on human rights and the environment, including forced and child labor, as well as labor exploitation. As we reported earlier, this version is significantly smaller in scope than the original one. Nevertheless, the European Parliament’s approval is an important step forward.

“Today’s vote is a milestone for responsible business conduct and a considerable step towards ending the exploitation of people and the planet by cowboy companies. his law is a hard-fought compromise and the result of many years of tough negotiations. I am proud of what we have achieved with our progressive allies.” – Lara Wolters, Dutch MEP and CSDDD negotiator

Both pieces of legislation now await final approval by the Council before they are published in the Official Journal and thus passed into law. E.U. member states then have two years to implement the provisions.

We’re intensifying our efforts in this final stage to ensure that the regulation banning products made with forced labor and the CSDDD pass through the legislative process and become law before this legislative period ends. Let’s urge the German government to vote YES in the Council after previously abstaining.

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