The European Parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday calling for a ban on the import-export of products manufactured or transported under duress, in addition to the duty of vigilance of large companies, which is in the making.
Last February, the European Commission proposed a directive on this duty of care for companies, which aims to promote sustainable and responsible behavior by companies along global value chains. These companies will be required to detect and prevent the negative impacts of their activities on human rights (child labor and exploitation of workers, for example) and on the environment (pollution, loss of biodiversity, etc.). the largest firms are concerned, namely some 13,000 in the EU and 4,000 abroad.
The European Parliament calls for more ambition. In his resolution approved almost unanimously, he asks the Commission to provide that any product manufactured under duress be banned from the single European market. Unlike the duty of vigilance project, there is no difference here regarding the size of the company or the sector concerned, but SMEs would be supported to adapt to the new rules. The legal instrument should concern import-export and be compatible with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to give it a universal ambition.
25 million people worldwide
For Belgian MEP Saskia Bricmont (Ecolo, Verts/ALE), “It’s time to end modern slavery! Shirts, shoes or cars made by modern slaves, including Uyghurs in Xinjiang, by forced laborers all over the world, can no longer be found in European stores“. The United States and Canada have already taken trade regulatory measures to ban the import of these products, she argues, denouncing the pressure of lobbies who fear loss of profit.
“Forced labor is estimated to affect 25 million people worldwide, even in countries with which the EU has free trade agreements. Nearly 10 million of these victims are minors“, adds the chosen one.