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April 2024: Joint Statement in Support of Regulation to Prohibit Forced Labour Products on the EU market

Recent weeks have seen significant progress at the EU level on tackling forced labour as committed to under ILO conventions 29 and 105. On 13 March, EU Ambassadors confirmed the provisional agreement reached on the Regulation earlier that month and on 20 March, a strong majority (62 out of 67 MEPs) in the Joint Committee on International Trade and Internal Market and Consumer Protection (INTA-IMCO committee) voted in favour, opening the way to a vote in plenary.

The 76 undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions, investors, businesses, multistakeholders’ initiatives and industry bodies now call on Members of the European Parliament to vote in favour of the agreed text in the upcoming Plenary session.

Once signed into law, the Regulation will substantially increase the EU’s capacity to address forced labour, a crime which impacts 27.6 million people globally. The Regulation should prevent European consumers from inadvertently buying products tainted with forced labour, protect companies from the unfair trading practices of competitors who exploit their workers and strengthen an interlocking net of international protections against the import of goods made with forced labour.

The ILO’s latest report suggests a staggering US$63.9 billion in illegal profits are generated globally from forced labour exploitation (FLE)2 per year, with an average of US$3687 per victim. Forced labour is not limited to distant corners of the world, nor is it an exception. The 2022 Global Estimates on Modern Slavery (GEMS) have shown an increase of 2,7 million between 2016 and 2021, in the number of workers experiencing forced labour, mostly in the private sector. It is also present inside the EU and thus directly affects European citizens.

The Regulation rightfully bans products made from forced labour inside and outside the EU, sending a clear signal that goods stemming from exploitation, regardless of their origin, have no place on the EU single market, and that the EU will not stand idly by, while individuals profit from the illegal exploitation of human beings.

We call on all Members of the European Parliament to unite behind this law and vote in favour in the upcoming April Plenary session, paving the way for its entry into force.