EU lawmakers agree: forced labour products no longer allowed on the EU market

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission have reached a provisional political agreement on a proposal for a regulation prohibiting products made with forced labour on the Union market. Each EU institution still needs to adopt the regulation in accordance with its own procedures.

The regulation will be directly applicable legislation in the Member States. It is aimed at preventing products made with forced labour from entering the EU market. The ban will also apply to exports from the EU market. The regulation will apply to all economic operators, regardless of their legal form and the scope of their activities, as well as to all products produced in the EU and imported products.

The regulation promotes responsible business conduct in the EU market and creates a level playing field for companies operating within the EU. The regulation addresses distortions of competition in the internal market resulting from the commercial exploitation of forced labour products. 

Finland committed to ending forced labour

Finland has supported the objectives of the regulation and sought to promote the progress of the regulation in the negotiations. Finland is committed to ending forced labour by 2030 as part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as through numerous other international conventions and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The prohibition of forced labour is part of the work related to the fight against human trafficking, to which Finland is also committed.

Forced labour seriously violates human rights and is a major global problem. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), an estimated 27.6 million people globally are in forced labour. Forced labour exists in all sectors, but it is particularly prevalent in certain service sectors, the textile industry, mining and agriculture.

Finland emphasises the circular economy perspective and the role of small enterprises

The regulation assigns national authorities as well as the European Commission the task of monitoring the compliance of companies with the regulation. If an undertaking is suspected of breaching its obligations, depending on the circumstances, either a national competent authority or the European Commission could initiate an investigation. The investigating body is also competent to resolve the matter. Legislation on the competent authority in Finland will be enacted nationally at a later time.

On the basis of preliminary and actual investigation, a prohibition of placing on the market may be imposed on products produced using forced labour. In addition, the company should, as a rule, recall products placed on the market and dispose of them, taking into account separately regulated environmental considerations. However, the ban and the requirement to recall products will not extend to products that have reached end-users. 

During the preparation, Finland considered, among other things, sustainability and climate aspects related to the disposal of products to be important. In the negotiations, provisions on the recycling, deactivation and donation of forced labour products were added to the regulation where possible. However, Finland emphasises that economic operators must not benefit financially from products made with forced labour.

Finland has also sought to promote precise and predictable legislation and stressed the proportionality aspects of the regulation for small businesses. In addition, Finland has considered it important for the Commission to provide guidance to companies and other actors and to provide the necessary support tools to implement the obligations of the regulation. 


Laura Pätsi, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 047 276
Nadine Hellberg-Lindqvist, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 047 023

Press Release 5.3.2024 (Council of the EU)(Link to another website.)