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The Ban on Products Made With Forced Labor in the EU

Forced Labor in the EU
The ultimate goal of forced labor is to obtain cheap labor for a considerable profit margin. For reference, the annual profit from forced labor practices in Africa, the poorest continent in the world, was $13.1 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, the annual profit per victim of forced labor in Africa was $3,900. The EU recently motioned for novel legislation within the union to address and aid the issue in Europe. For reference, the annual profit from forced labor in the EU was $46.9 billion in 2014, while the annual profit per victim of forced labor was $34,800.

About Forced Labor

Forced labor is the involuntary coercion of individuals into providing employment for fraudulent services. Approximately 27.6 million people across the globe are victims of forced labor. Forced labor traffickers generally target vulnerable groups of people in need of work and money. Those with language barriers, unsettled immigration statuses, disabilities, large debt or those living in great poverty make for basic forced labor targets because they are highly susceptible to manipulation. There are several sectors of forced labor that individuals may be subject to. For example, sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, agriculture and domestic work are all sectors of forced labor. Moreover, all sectors of forced labor feature a power imbalance between the employee and employer. Often, employers will threaten or intimidate workers through physical or sexual violence or; for example, by withholding important documents.

The EU’s Proposed Legislation

On September 14, 2022, the European Union proposed a ban on all goods made via forced labor throughout the 27 nations under its jurisdiction. The rule would mandate that all goods made with forced labor at any point in the supply chain – imported or domestic – would not be allowed for sale in EU nations. The committee plans to launch an international campaign in which EU customs authorities would detain all products made with forced labor at EU borders. Furthermore, at the domestic level, the EU plans to include the immediate withdrawal of all products that use any degree of forced labor for their production. They also plan to comprehensively investigate all forced labor risks submitted by civil society by operating a database of forced labor risks focusing on specific products and geographic areas.

Why This is Important

If this proposal is agreed upon, it should be implemented and applied throughout the EU in just two years. This is an incredibly important global advancement regarding the practice of forced labor because it will essentially make it completely unprofitable in EU nations. Seeing as how it is the second most profitable region in terms of forced labor in the world, the EU’s enactment of this legislation will work to discourage the practice globally. Additionally, this can potentially impose political pressure on other nations to take action regarding their forced labor policies, which will contribute to a global decrease in the issue. By encouraging the ban of these products, the EU is enabling millions of people who are already subject to poverty, to escape additional abuse.

– Aarika Sharma
Photo: Flickr