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7 Sep 2023

Anti-Slavery International, Clean Clothes Campaign Europe, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, European Trade Union Confederation & 12 others

Civil society red lines to the Regulation on “prohibiting products made with forced labour on the Union market”

As the negotiations on the content of the legislation advance, and in order to ensure that the European Commission proposal fulfils its best potential, we, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations, Coalitions and Trade Unions, believe that the below elements are essential to make the proposed regulation efficient, implementable and above all, impactful to address forced labour meaningfully.

Indeed, the changes below are crucial to create the sufficient leverage to both foster better working conditions for all and to improve the lives of workers trapped in situations of forced labour by providing them with adequate remedies.

Thus, we consider the elements below as fundamental:

  • The inclusion of remedies for all workers (both EU and non-EU based) trapped in forced labour must be a crucial point of the legislation. The provision of remedy - including compensation and back wages - should be a prerequisite to the lifting of a ban in particular (Art 6.6). These remedies should be defined through meaningful stakeholder engagement and ideally include the victims themselves when and wherever possible.
  • All complainants should be protected, whether or not they are based in the EU and thus under the scope of the Whistleblower directive. This implies that all complainant’s information should be treated as confidential (Art. 10.3 and Art. 25).
  • To be implementable, the proposed legislation should foresee appropriate lower evidentiary standards to initiate the investigation and to adopt a decision...
  • Avoid that due diligence measures reported by companies could be used as a defence against the opening of a full investigation. In particular, social audits and certifications cannot be deemed sufficient defence to ward off an investigation.
  • The European Commission should be designated as a competent authority...
  • Bringing to an end the use of forced labour shall not mean disengagement with the economic operator except as a measure of last resort...