The respect for human rights, including labour rights, is a key priority of the EU’s agenda. In addition to already existing EU policies and laws to address this issue, the proposed regulation sets rules prohibiting the placing on the EU market of goods made by forced labour.
Objective and scope
The objective of this proposal is to effectively prohibit the placing and making available on the EU market and the export from the EU of products made with forced labour, including forced child labour. Building on international standards (for example, ILO Conventions) and framed as complementing existing horizontal and sectoral EU initiatives, in particular the corporate sustainability due diligence and reporting obligations, the proposal lays down a prohibition supported by a robust, risk-based enforcement framework.
The forced labour proposal is cross-cutting, covering trade, customs and internal market, while aligning to international standards and other EU initiatives. The scope is very broad covering all companies (including SMEs) and all products that are imported or made within the EU as well as exports, including their components regardless of sector, industry or geographical location. The provisions also apply to the entire value chain.
Why this initiative is needed
Forced labour, including forced child labour, continues to be a major global issue, with the ILO estimating the global number of people in a situation of forced labour at around 27.6 million. Combating forced labour and promoting responsible business practices are priorities of the EU's agenda on business and human rights.
Enforcement of the regulation:
- EU member states will be required to designate a competent authority or authorities responsible for implementing and enforcing the regulation, with the necessary powers and resources
- the competent authorities will take a risk-based approach drawing from independent and verifiable information sources, for example, International Labour Organisation and a database that is being developed by the European Commission
- civil society can submit information for investigation by competent authorities
- customs authorities will be requested to identify and stop products at EU borders
- the European Commission will publish guidelines to facilitate the implementation of the prohibition both by businesses and competent authorities
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment invited submissions to a public consultation on the proposal on prohibiting products made with forced labour on the Union market. This consultation process closed on 20 October 2023.
Proposal for a regulation prohibiting products made with forced labour on the Union market (COM 2022 453)