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15 Mai 2023

Anti-Slavery International and 16 other EU CSOs

EU: CSOs urge Council to focus Forced Labour Regulation on remediation for victims

Photo: sinonimas, Getty Images via Canva

'CSO letter to Spanish Presidency of the EU Council re: Forced Labour Regulation', 15 May 2023

"Dear State Secretary Navarro Rios,

We are writing on behalf of the undersigned civil society organisations and trade unions to share our concerns about the slow pace of engagement at the Council level, on the proposed EU Forced Labour Regulation (FLR).

With the European Parliament actively defining its own position, it is of utmost importance that, during the Spanish Presidency, the Council opens avenues for concrete discussions amongst Member States with the goal of agreeing, during your Presidency, on a General Approach that would centre the regulation around remediation of forced labour.

As described in a joint statement by 75 nongovernmental organisations, the proposed regulation could contribute to creating conditions for EU companies to meaningfully address forced labour in their value chains, both inside and outside the EU. But the draft published by the European Commission falls short of attaining this objective. It has the following serious gaps:

  • Forged as a product-based legislation, it does not provide remediation to workers who have experienced forced labour. As a result, it fails to put workers and their complaints about working conditions that amount to forced labour at the centre of the legislation’s architecture.
  • Targeting product lines only is a narrow and flawed approach to tackling forced labour. The underlying systemic causes that create working conditions that rise to the level of forced labour are not isolated to product lines within a production site. As a result, the proposed regulation 2 fails to address forced labour in full production sites and does not cover group-wide bans that could have a greater impact. In particular, it does not explicitly address State-Imposed Forced labour (SIFL) such as in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or in Turkmenistan.
  • While foreseeing some transparency requirements, it does not require sufficient transparency and traceability, including at raw material level. It also does not formally require a revision of the EU Custom Code that would allow civil society organisations, trade unions and companies alike to monitor trade data to identify forced labour cases in supply chains, as is the case in the US..."