On Monday 16 October, the Internal Market and International Trade committees of the European Parliament adopted their position on the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation introducing a ban on the placing and making available on the EU market, or export from the EU market, of products made using forced labour (published on 14 September 2022).
The following amendments have been proposed:
- Reversal of burden of proof in high-risk cases – for goods produced in geographical areas and economic sectors at high risk of using forced labour, the authorities would no longer need to prove that people have been forced to work, as the burden of proof would fall on companies.
- Remediation – where goods have been removed from the market, they should only be allowed back on after the company demonstrates that it has stopped using forced labour in its operations or supply chain and remedied any relevant cases.
- Definitions – definition of forced labour to align with ILO standards and include “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily”.
Plenary will have to confirm the draft report as the European Parliament’s negotiating mandate. Once the European Council also adopts its position, inter-institutional negotiations can commence over the final shape of the legislation.
Companies should continue to monitor developments in this space and build robust processes to ensure that potential human rights (including forced labour) and environmental risks in their supply chains are identified and properly addressed.