EU Parliament approves ban of products made with forced labour

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Approval of Forced Labour Ban

  • The European Parliament approved rules to ban the sale, import, and export of goods made using forced labour within the EU.
  • This move was influenced by concerns about human rights violations in Xinjiang, a Chinese region associated with forced labour.

Background and Importance

  • The law is inspired by similar legislation enacted by the United States in 2021 to protect against products linked to human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
  • The U.S. government has accused China of committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims in the region, an allegation that China denies.
  • Xinjiang is a significant producer of cotton and a source of materials for solar panels.

Mechanisms and Investigations

  • National authorities in the 27-country EU bloc and the European Commission will have the power to investigate suspicious goods, supply chains, and manufacturers.
  • Preliminary investigations are to be completed within 30 working days.
  • If a product is found to have been made using forced labour, it will be banned from the EU market, and shipments will be intercepted at the EU’s borders.

Key Quote on Forced Labour

  • Maria-Manuel Leitao-Marques, a Portuguese member of the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, stated, “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.

Next Steps for the Law

  • The EU Parliament approved the law with a majority of 555 votes in favour, six against, and 45 abstentions.
  • The law still requires approval from EU countries to become official, but this step is typically a formality, where approval is granted without changes.
  • EU countries will need to start applying the law within three years.

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