Modern slavery encompasses many forms of slavery including human trafficking and forced labour too.
There are 27.6 million people in a situation of forced labour today. Women and girls make up 11.8 million of the total in forced labour. No region of the world is spared from forced labour, according to the International Labour Organisation, 800,000 people in the European Union alone, mainly in the agriculture, domestic work, construction and manufacturing sectors.
What do you think of the Commission proposal on prohibiting products made with forced labour?
This legislative initiative only relates to products, services under forced labour are not covered. But frankly, people become not only enslaved by making clothes or working in factories for iPhones. People have also become enslaved by working in houses as cleaners and nannies or working on construction sites. That's why we emphasise also that the ratification and implementation of the ILO protocol of 2014 is one of the most important steps in ensuring an effective fight against forced labour. This protocol of the International Labour Organisation demands that countries have to take concrete and effective measures to prevent forced labour, to protect victims, and give them access to justice and remedies, and these, in my point of view, are the most important steps we have to set in the future.
What does the EESC suggest to improve this regulation?
For example, we point to the importance of taking effective measures to provide victims with protection and access to remedies and such compensation. We also ask for a strong institutional anchoring of social partners and NGOs in this legislative act. And we also call for common European standards for due diligence systems because such standards could really contribute to the creation of a level playing field, which is in particular in the interest of European companies.