EU: European Commission proposal to ban products made with forced labour on the EU market

Through . Published on 15 September 2022 Ă  10h50 - Update on 15 September 2022 Ă  10h50

With its proposal for an European regulation that it unveiled on 14 September, the European Commission intends for the EU Member States to create national authorities responsible for assessing the risks of forced labour and identifying the geographical areas and products particularly concerned. These authorities will also be responsible for conducting investigations in the event of suspected imports of products made with forced labour. If investigations provide evidence of a violation, then the companies concerned will be prohibited from exporting these products (if they come from the EU) and will have to withdraw the products concerned from the European market, and failing that, the national authorities will manage that process at the expense of the companies in question. In order to make this requirement real and concrete, the competent authorities will have to communicate a list of the products at risk to the customs entities so they can identify and stop their entry. These national authorities will be replicating the model put forward by the EU directive on corporate due diligence, which requires large companies to prevent human rights violations, such as forced labour (c.f. article No.12924). While this initiative also follows the lines of the US human rights law banning products from Xinjiang adopted in December 2021, in contrast it does not target any particular region and does not place the burden of proof on companies. Unlike a directive instrument, this regulation does not require transposition into national law, although it does still require approval by the both the EU Council and the EU Parliament.

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