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Joint Statement: Call on the European Parliament to adopt the EU’s Regulation to prohibit forced labour products on the EU market

Joint Statement: Call on the European Parliament to adopt the EU’s Regulation to prohibit forced labour products on the EU market

Brussels, April 18th, 2024

Recent weeks have seen significant progress at the EU level on tackling forced labour as committed to under ILO conventions 29 and 105. On 13 March, EU Ambassadors confirmed the provisional agreement reached on the Regulation earlier that month and on 20 March, a strong majority (62 out of 67 MEPs) in the Joint Committee on International Trade and Internal Market and Consumer Protection (INTA-IMCO committee) voted in favour, opening the way to a vote in plenary.

The 76 undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions, investors, businesses, multi- stakeholders’ initiatives and industry bodies now call on Members of the European Parliament to vote in favour of the agreed text in the upcoming Plenary session.

Once signed into law, the Regulation will substantially increase the EU’s capacity to address forced labour, a crime which impacts 27.6 million people globally1. The Regulation should prevent European consumers from inadvertently buying products tainted with forced labour, protect companies from the unfair trading practices of competitors who exploit their workers and strengthen an interlocking net of international protections against the import of goods made with forced labour

The ILO’s latest report suggests a staggering US$63.9 billion in illegal profits are generated globally from forced labour exploitation (FLE)2 per year, with an average of US$3687 per victim. Forced labour is not limited to distant corners of the world, nor is it an exception. The 2022 Global Estimates on Modern Slavery (GEMS) have shown an increase of 2,7 million between 2016 and 2021, in the number of workers experiencing forced labour, mostly in the private sector. It is also present inside the EU and thus directly affects European citizens.

The Regulation rightfully bans products made from forced labour inside and outside the EU, sending a clear signal that goods stemming from exploitation, regardless of their origin, have no place on the EU single market, and that the EU will not stand idly by, while individuals profit from the illegal exploitation of human beings.

We call on all Members of the European Parliament to unite behind this law and vote in favour in the upcoming April Plenary session, paving the way for its entry into force.

Signatories:

Businesses: Chicory Wealth, First Solar GmbH, Holosolis, Nia Impact Capital, SharePower Responsible Investing, Tony’s Chocolonely, Trinetra Investment Management LLP.

Business associations: Amfori.

Civil society: Above Ground (a project of MakeWay), Anti-Slavery International, Anukatham Unorganised Workers Union, Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany, ASTRA-Anti trafficking action, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Clean Clothes Campaign European Coalition, CorA Netzwerk für Unternehmensverantwortung (CorA Network for Corporate Accountability), Corporate Accountability Lab, Environmental Justice Foundation, European Coalition for Corporate Justice, Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Fashion Revolution, Finnwatch, Focus Association for Sustainable Development, Frank Bold, German NGO Network against Trafficking in Human Beings, Global Legal Action Network, Heartland Initiative, Human Rights Law Centre, Human Rights Without Frontiers, Human Trafficking Legal Center, IJM Deutschland e.V., IndustriAll European Trade Union, INKOTA-netzwerk, Investor Alliance for Human Rights, La Strada International, Lady Lawyer Foundation, Oceana, Payoke vzw, Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business, Social Awareness and Voluntary Education (SAVE), SÜDWIND Institut, Terre des Hommes International Federation, The Freedom Fund, Transparentem, Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Verité, World Uyghur Congress.

Industry Body: European Solar Manufacturing Council.

Investors: Adrian Dominican Sisters, Portfolio Advisory Board, AP Pension, Bridgestone Hispania Pension, FP, CCOO, FP., Christian Brothers Investment Services, Church of England Pensions Board, Congregation of St. Joseph, Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise, Dominican Sisters of Springfield, IL, Ecofi, EFG Asset Management, Ethius Invest, Ethos Foundation, Everence and the Praxis Mutual Funds, Future Group, Harrington Investments, Inc., LBP AM, Maryknoll Sisters, Mercy Investment Services, Inc., Plan de Pensiones Empleados de Telefónica, Storebrand Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management, UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, Zevin Asset Management.

Multi-Stakeholder Initiative: Fair Labor Association, Fairtrade International, International Cocoa Initiative, Sisters of Mary Reparatrix.