Landmark legislation as EU Parliament bans products made with forced labour

25 Apr 2024
The European Parliament has given its final approval to a new regulation enabling the EU to prohibit the sale, import, and export of goods made using forced labour.

Member state authorities and the European Commission will be able to investigate suspicious goods, supply chains, and manufacturers. If a product is deemed to have been made using forced labour, it will no longer be possible to sell it on the EU market (including online) and shipments will be intercepted at the EU’s borders.

Rapporteur for the International Trade committee, Samira Rafaela (Renew, NL) said: “This is a historic day. We have adopted a ground-breaking piece of legislation to combat forced labour worldwide. This regulation fosters EU and international cooperation, shifts power from exploiters to consumers and employees, and offers possibilities for remedy for victims. It also transforms trade policies into a greener and fairer future.”

The regulation was adopted with 555 votes in favour, 6 votes against and 45 abstentions. The text now has to get a final formal approval from the EU Council. It will then be published in the Official Journal. EU countries will have to start applying it in 3 years.


Further important news from the European Parliament is the approval of the Due Diligence Directive, agreed on with the Council, requiring firms and their upstream and downstream partners, including supply, production and distribution to prevent, end or mitigate their adverse impact on human rights and the environment. Such impact will include slavery, child labour, labour exploitation, biodiversity loss, pollution or destruction of natural heritage.

Following the plenary vote, lead MEP Lara Wolters (S&D, NL) said: “Today’s vote is a milestone for responsible business conduct and a considerable step towards ending the exploitation of people and the planet by cowboy companies. This law is a hard-fought compromise and the result of many years of tough negotiations. I am proud of what we have achieved with our progressive allies. In Parliament’s next mandate, we will fight not only for its swift implementation, but also for making Europe’s economy even more sustainable.”