EU Parliament approves ban on products made with forced labour News
Endzeiter / Pixabay
EU Parliament approves ban on products made with forced labour

The EU Parliament on Tuesday approved new regulations prohibiting the sale, import and export of goods made using forced labour. The regulations, were approved by an overwhelming majority, with 555 in favour and six against, and aim to tighten access to EU single market for third countries.

According to the press release, the regulations give member state authorities and the European Commission the ability to investigate suspected use of forced labour, suspicious goods, supply chains and manufacturers. Goods which are proven to have been made using forced labour will be withdrawn from the EU market. In addition the regulations prohibits goods declared to be product of forced labour from selling online in EU member countries.

Forced labour is prohibited under Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which aims to protect against instances of serious exploitation, notwithstanding whether, depending on the circumstances of a case, they are related to human trafficking.

The regulations await approval from the EU council and will then enter into force, a step that is considered as simply a formality. EU member states will start applying the law within 3 years after approval.

Rapporteur for the International Trade committee and activist against forced labour Samira Rafaela stated:

This is a historic day, we have adopted a ground breaking piece of legislation to combat forced labour worldwide. This regulation fosters EU and international cooperation, shifts power from exploiters to consumers and employees and offers possibilities for remedy for victims. It also transforms trade policies into a greener and fairer future. 

The move is motivated by growing concerns by EU lawmakers over human right abuses in Xinjiang, a north-eastern region in China, a major cotton producer. China was recently accused by US Government of committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims native to the Xinjiang region.

The EU joins a list of countries that have put in place forced labour import bans, including United States, Canada and Mexico, among others.