Saturday, June 22, 2024

European Parliament Committees Adopt Their Position on the Proposed EU Forced Labour Regulation

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On October 16, 2023, the Committee on International Trade (INTA) and the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) of the European Parliament adopted their position (the Committee Position; see here and here) on the Proposed Regulation on prohibiting products made with forced labour from circulating on the EU market (the Proposed Regulation). Published by the European Commission (Commission) in September 2022, the Proposed Regulation seeks to effectively prohibit the placing and making available on the EU market of products made with forced labour, as well as the export of such products from the EU.

The Proposed Regulation covers all types of EU and non-EU products (including components), regardless of their sector or origin. National competent authorities (NCAs) will be able to investigate whether forced labour has been used, in whole or in part, at any stage of the supply chain of these products. In case of infringement of the forced labour prohibition, these authorities are to prohibit the placing of the products in question on the EU market or their export from it. Companies will have to withdraw any products already placed on the market and dispose of them. Noncompliance will result in fines for the companies involved. 

The Committee Position includes some important amendments to the Proposed Regulation: among other things, it provides for investigatory powers for the Commission, in addition to those of national competent authorities, reverses the burden of proof in investigations relating to high-risk areas or products, provides for the communication of Commission or NCA decisions to the public, and updates certain definitions in the initially proposed text. 

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