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EU Parliament Approves Ban of Products Made With Forced Labour

EU flags flutter in the wind in front of the Berlaymont, the EU Commission headquarters.
The European Parliament approved rules on Tuesday to ban in the EU the sale, import and export of goods made using forced labour. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

The European Parliament approved rules on Tuesday to ban in the EU the sale, import and export of goods made using forced labour.

Why It’s Important

The move was driven by EU lawmakers concerned about human rights in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.

The United States enacted a similar law in 2021 to safeguard its market from products potentially tainted by human rights abuses in Xinjiang, where the US government says China is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims.

China denies abuses in Xinjiang, a major cotton producer that also supplies much of the world’s materials for solar panels.

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How It Works

National authorities in the 27-country bloc or the executive Commission will be able to investigate suspicious goods, supply chains, and manufacturers. Preliminary investigations should be wrapped up within 30 working days.

If a product is deemed to have been made using forced labour, it will no longer be possible to sell it in the EU market and shipments will be intercepted at the EU’s borders.

Key Quote

“Today, worldwide, 28 million people are trapped in the hands of human traffickers and states who force them to work for little or no pay. Europe cannot export its values while importing products made with forced labour. The fact that the EU finally has a law to ban these products is one of the biggest achievements of this mandate,” Maria-Manuel Leitao-Marques, a Portuguese Member of the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the Parliament, said.

What’s Next

The EU Parliament approved the law with a large majority of 555 votes in favour, six against, and 45 abstentions.

It still needs approval from EU countries to enter into force — a final step that is usually a formality which approves laws with no changes.

EU countries will have to start applying the law within three years.

By Nette Nöstlinger, Editors: Charlotte Van Campenhout and Ros Russell

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