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Ban products made with forced labour, S&Ds demand from EU Commission

Date

09 Jun 2022

Sections

Development Policy

Speaking ahead of a debate and vote on an Oral Question with Resolution in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, the Socialists and Democrats Group reiterated their call on the Commission to urgently propose a robust instrument to ban products made with forced labour from entering the EU market. This is a key demand and policy proposal of the Socialists and Democrats in this legislature. In September 2021, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen yielded to S&D demands and promised to make it a reality. Today, S&D MEPs are holding her up to her word, especially now that the recent release of the Xinjiang Police Files shed new light on human rights abuses toward the Uyghur minority and the urgent need to eradicate forced labour.

Raphael Glucksmann, S&D MEP and negotiator on a ban of products made with forced labour, said

“25 million people worldwide are forced into labour. We want to ban these products made with blood and tears from our market. In addition to new robust European laws, which will force companies to perform strict due diligence checks throughout their supply chain, we call on the EU Commission to propose a new, robust instrument for banning any product made with forced labour. We will make sure there are no legal or technical loopholes through which companies could slip through. By empowering the EU to block products made with forced labour at our borders, we can hold companies accountable for the conditions under which their products are produced. Companies will only change their business model when faced with consequences. People must come before profits!”

Bernd Lange, S&D MEP, rapporteur on the file and Chair of the international trade committee, said:

“Tackling forced labour is a momentous task, but one we must face head on. A ban alone will not be able to address the root causes of forced labour - the challenge is too complex and too great. International cooperation and coordination of different instruments are the only viable way forward if we are serious about making a change on the ground. That is exactly what the S&Ds are calling for today - and for the Commission to speedily translate our demands into an instrument so we can hit the ground running.”

Note to the editor:

The Resolution proposes that the EU should have the ability to block forced labour products at our borders.

  • Products should be detained by public authorities when there is sufficient evidence that forced labour has been used to produce or transport the goods. Public authorities may act on the basis of information provided by stakeholders, NGOs, affected workers, or anonymous submissions.
  • The cargo would be released if (a) the company can prove that no forced labour was used, or (b) if the responsible companies provided remediation to the affected workers and forced labour is no longer present on the ground.
  • Public authorities may request companies to disclose relevant information about their supply chains.
  • A coordination system should be created at an EU level to support customs authorities.
  • This new trade instrument should be coherent with the future Due Diligence Directive and the review of the action plan on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapters.

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