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E.U. one step closer to corporate due diligence law

  • Published on
    January 30, 2024
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  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Law & Policy
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The European Council has unveiled an updated strategy to address the issue of forced labor within the European Union (E.U.). Just Style shares that the current draft policy is aimed at aligning both international standards, including the robust U.S. Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, and EU legislation. This includes a few new measures to strengthen the prohibition of products made with forced labor in the EU market.

Key points of the plan:

  1. Expanded scope to online sales: The move to extend the regulation’s scope to include online products ensures that online platforms are also subject to the ban on goods produced through forced labor.
  2. Creation of a Union Network and a single portal: The plan includes the creation of a Union Network against Forced Labor Products and a single portal. This will enable better coordination among authorities in the European Commission and offer a platform to access information, tools, and guidelines to enforce the ban effectively.
  3. Investigation process: If the Commission finds that there is concern over products made with forced labor, they will automatically take over the pre-investigation phase. This will streamline cross-border investigations, designating a lead competent authority and involving the Union Network to ensure transparency and a unified approach.
  4. International collaboration: To tackle forced labor cases outside the EU, the Commission will initiate contact with third countries and ask the third country governments to conduct inspections on the suspected cases of forced labor.

Following the Council’s negotiating mandate, the Commission will play a crucial role in assessing cases and making final decisions on banning specific products.

If passed, this regulation would mark a significant shift in the global regulation of labor and environmental practices within the supply chains of major corporations. 

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Economy and Employment Pierre-Yves Dermagne says,

“It is appalling that in the 21st century slavery and forced labour still exist in the world. ILO estimates that 27.6m people were in forced labour. This hideous crime must be eradicated and the first step to achieving this consist of breaking the business model of companies that exploit workers. With this regulation we want to make sure that there is no place for their products in our single market, whether they are manufactured in Europe or abroad.”

Keep calling for businesses to be held accountable!

The Council must now negotiate with the European Parliament. Advocates hope that European authorities and legislators act promptly to enact the legislation as there has been pushback along the way from industry and companies. The E.U. is very close!

The Freedom United community has been campaigning within the Justice is Everybody’s Business coalition for strong European rules to hold businesses accountable, as part of our wider global campaign to call for laws that put people and the planet before profit in all jurisdictions. We’re glad to see the E.U. this much closer to keeping companies accountable. 

Sign our petition in support of strong, mandatory human rights due diligence legislation in the U.S., U.K., and E.U. As large markets for the global industry, their passage will help address human rights and environmental violations around the world, sending a clear signal to the private and public sectors that they will be held accountable for failing to prevent modern slavery and human rights abuses in their supply chains.

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