EU Parliament approves ban of products made with forced labour

By Thomson Reuters Apr 23, 2024 | 9:25 AM

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


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 U.S. 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.


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.


“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.


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.

(This story has been refiled to change province to region in paragraph 2)

(Writing by Nette Nöstlinger, Editing by Charlotte Van Campenhout and Ros Russell)