Brussels: The European Commission Wednesday proposed to prohibit products made with forced labour on the EU market.
The proposal covers all products, namely those made in the EU for domestic consumption and exports, and imported goods, without targeting specific companies or industries.
This comprehensive approach is important because an estimated 27.6 million people are in forced labour, in many industries and in every continent.
The majority of forced labour takes place in the private economy, while some is imposed by States, it said in a press release.
EU national authorities will be empowered to withdraw from the EU market products made with forced labour, following an investigation. EU customs authorities will identify and stop products made with forced labour at EU borders.
EU Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “This proposal will make a real difference in tackling modern-day slavery, which affects millions of people around the globe. Our aim is to eliminate all products made with forced labour from the EU market, irrespective of where they have been made.” “We will also further deepen our cooperation with our global partners and with international organisations,” he said.
The proposal now needs to be discussed and agreed by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union before it can enter into force. It will apply 24 months after its entry into force.
Forced labour is defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily.”