Abolish forced labour, not our SMEs

05.03.2024 12:42

Abolish forced labour, not our SMEs

Uyghur1 [nid:104603]

“Forced labour is a serious violation of human rights. We have now managed to agree on a law that will contribute to the eradication of modern-day slavery,” said Jörgen Warborn MEP, the EPP Group’s chief negotiator on the Forced Labour Regulation and Spokesman on international trade.

“To ensure that businesses, and especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are not overburdened with more administration than what they already face today, the EPP Group has insisted on a risk-based approach while providing practical support for SMEs. This includes specific provisions for SMEs, such as a hotline that is based in their own country that will allow them to receive live support in complying with the regulation,” Warborn continued.

The negotiators from the European Parliament and the Member States agreed to ban products made with forced labour from the EU market.

Andreas Schwab, EPP Group’s Spokesman on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection added, "We had to ensure that the focus of any future investigation is only on big fish and not minor cases. But for the new system to work in practice, we need to give the Commission the resources necessary to investigate such high-risk cases. This is particularly important in light of the blocked legislation on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDDD), on which this law is based and refers. How these two pieces of legislation will interact in the future has not yet been finalised, but it will be up to the Commission to ensure a functioning and coherent compliance regime. In general, however, all reporting obligations for importing companies should be consolidated into a single report based on a single form."

"One of the key elements that the EPP Group managed to exclude from the legislation is the reverse burden of proof, which would have only created more uncertainty and burden for already overburdened companies," said Warborn. “I believe we have succeeded in finding a proposal that ensures the effectiveness of the legislation in helping to eradicate forced labour, while at the same time protecting SMEs from regulatory burdens. Europe's SMEs should feel that the EU is working for them - not against them. I am pleased that the agreement includes a specific article on support for SMEs."

The European Parliament and Member States must now formally approve the outcome of the negotiations.

Note to editors

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 178 Members from all EU Member States

Other related content