EU forced Labour Regulation: EU Council must focus on remediation for victims

Terre des Hommes and its partners, including civil society organisations and trade unions, share concerns about the slow pace of engagement at the European Union (EU) Council level on a proposed EU Forced Labour Regulation.

With the European Parliament actively defining its own position, during the upcoming Spanish Presidency, the EU Council must open avenues for concrete discussions amongst Member States to agree on a general approach that would centre the regulation around remediation of forced labour.

The proposed regulation should help EU companies to meaningfully address forced labour in their value chains, both inside and outside the EU. But the draft Regulation published by the European Commission falls short of attaining this objective. The following serious gaps should be addressed:

  • Forged as a product-based legislation, it does not provide remediation to workers who have experienced forced labour.
  • Targeting product lines alone is a narrow and flawed approach to tackling forced labour. The underlying systemic causes of forced labour are not isolated to product lines within a production site.
  • While foreseeing some transparency requirements, it does not require sufficient transparency and traceability, including when it comes to raw materials.
  • It fails to sufficiently clarify the responsibility of buyers to conduct robust due diligence, in particular in relation to: fair purchasing practices; the need for living wages; support for remediation; and responsible disengagement. It also lacks provisions to discourage buyers from ‘cutting and running’ after identifying forced labour in their supply chains.
  • It offers no concrete protections for whistle-blowers and human rights defenders, including requiring companies to refrain from using strategic lawsuits to silence journalists, workers, or non-governmental organisations that file complaints of forced labour.

Read the full letter to the Spanish EU Presidency from Terre des Hommes and partners.