The EU must fight all forms of forced labour and become a world leader on human rights, urged the EESC in an opinion adopted at its January plenary session.

In its opinion "Forced labour products ban", drawn up by Thomas Wagnsonner, the Committee backs the European Commission's proposal to ban products made using forced labour from the Union market, stressing that it is key for all EU Member States to ratify the 2014 Protocol to the International Labour Organization (ILO)'s 1930 Forced Labour Convention.

The EESC is also pleased to note that the proposal encompasses the fight against forced child labour and calls on the Commission to speed up this process by including existing ILO conventions on child labour in the scope of the regulation.

Mr Wagnsonner said: "The promotion of economic, social, cultural and labour rights and therefore the eradication of all forms of forced labour and exploitation is crucial to secure  the EU's global leadership on human rights and democracy in particular".

To prevent forced labour, the EESC emphasises the importance of international cooperation and the institutional anchoring of organised civil society in the Commission's new proposal, recommending guidelines to assist companies, a specific database with risk indicators and a benchmarking system. (mp)