Following the publication earlier this year of the proposed Corporate Due Diligence Directive, the European Commissioned has now brought forward draft rules which would prohibit the placement of products made with forced labour on the European market.
The new rules:
- Outlaw products made with forced labour from being placed on the EU market or exported, no matter whether they were made within the EU or elsewhere
- Use the ILO’s definition of forced labour: “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”
- Be enforced by member-state customs authorities, who will carry out investigations based on information collated by the EU and external submissions from civil society organisations.
- Where forced labour is uncovered, require customs authorities to intervene to and withdraw products from free circulation within the EU and prevent export. Businesses would then be required to dispose of the products.
- Empower member-states to penalise non-compliant companies.
- Require member-states to recognise each other’s decisions.
- Include a non-cooperation clause, allowing authorities to take decisions based on best available evidence, in the event companies and non-EU countries refuse to cooperate.
- Unlike the corporate sustainability and supply chain due diligence proposal, which applies solely to larger companies, cover SMEs.
- Come into effect 24 months after the rules are placed on the statute books, meaning it would apply from 2025 at the earliest.