Ban on products made with forced labour: Parliament presents its recommendations  

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Products made or transported by people forced to work should be excluded from the internal market through a WTO-compatible import and export ban, according to Parliament.

In a resolution intended to feed into the ongoing drafting of new EU rules on products created or transported by forced labour, Parliament recommends that such products be banned on the basis of production site, importer, company, transporter, or the particular region in case of state-sponsored forced labour. In practice, public authorities should detain and seize the goods at the EU borders in case there is “sufficient evidence” that the goods were made or transported by forced labour, MEPs say.

The importer should have the burden of proof to show the absence of forced labour for the release of the cargo. To help importers, a public list of sanctioned companies, regions and producers should be established, says the Parliament, arguing for assistance to SMEs to cope with the new rules.

Define forced labour

MEPs underlined that for the determination of what counts as a product of forced labour, the items should be measured against International Labour Organisation (ILO) indicators which include abuse of vulnerability, restriction of movement, withholding identity documents and debt bondage.

Global issue

Parliament calls for cooperation with like-minded partners to ensure that goods banned on the EU market do not simply get re-routed to other markets. It underlines: a ban on forced labour products will in itself not eradicate forced labour. Tackling this global issue requires a collective solution involving dialogue with third countries, technical assistance and capacity building as well as awareness raising.


"The EU has to do more to combat the vicious practice of forced labour systematically, and should do so in alliance with other countries. There can be no room for exploitation-based products or transport. With the vote today, Parliament laid down the principles along which a ban on such inhumane practices should be constructed: now it is time for the Commission to deliver," said the International Trade Committee Chair Bernd Lange (S&D, DE).

Following a debate when Commission responded to questions concering the design, scope, the choice of international blueprints and practical application of the new tool, the resolution was adopted by 503 votes, with six votes against and four abstentions.


Commission has been working on a new proposal on how to ban forced labour products, announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union address of 2021. The new legislative instrument is planned for September 2022.

According to the Commission, globally 25 million people are in a situation of forced labour.