July 13, 2021

EU publishes Guidance to help businesses combat forced labor

On July 12, 2021, the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) published guidance to assist EU businesses with the implementation of effective due diligence practices to address the risk of forced labor in their operations and supply chains, in line with existing international standards and principles.  The purposse of the guidance is to provide tools to help businesses identify, prevent and mitigate the risk of encountering forced labor in their operations, supply chains and business relationships, while promoting responsible business conduct throughout the EU regardless of a company’s location, size, sector, ownership and structure.  The guidance focuses solely on the risk of forced labor and does not address due diligence related to other supply chain risks.  

One of the pillars of the recent EU trade strategy is to promote responsible and sustainable value chains, and the Guidance builds upon this strategy by enabling businesses to take measures to combat forced labor before legislation imposes mandatory due diligence requirements.  EU trade policy also currently supports the suppression of forced or compulsory labor through various instruments, including all fundamental International Labour Organization Conventions, the special incentive arrangement under the EU’s General Scheme of Preferences, and the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.  

European Commission Press Release | EU Guidance