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12 Feb 2021

Ben Vanpeperstraete for MEP Anna Cavazzini

European Parliament calls for import ban on forced labour

"Towards an EU import ban on forced labour and modern slavery", 12 February 2021

The European Parliament has called for a new EU instrument that allows for import bans on products related to severe human rights violations such as forced labour or child labour. This tool could be a complementary measure to the EU legislation on corporate human rights and environmental due diligence along supply chains which is currently being developed.

...The import ban...would allow [the EU] to immediately stop goods at our borders when [there is] reasonable suspicion that they are made with forced labour. The onus would then be on the company...to prove that this is not the case.

...[T]his paper...consider[s] whether the import bans could be introduced via:

  • EU foreign policy, i.e. the new EU Human Rights Sanctions mechanism
  • amending our Free Trade Agreements and other trade mechanisms
  • a new Internal Market instrument
  • a new instrument with a trade legal basis

A brief examination...leads to the conclusion that a new EU instrument with a trade legal basis would be preferred.