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Today, the European Parliament adopted, with a broad majority, the long-awaited regulation to prohibit products made with forced labour. This new law could have a significant impact on the solar industry, as it mandates the banning of all products made with forced labour from the European market. It is widely acknowledged that a significant portion of the materials used in solar panels originate from the Xinjiang province in China, where state-imposed forced labour is prevalent.

We welcome the decision of the European Parliament. This new regulation should put an end to all imports of solar modules or components from areas where state-imposed forced labour takes place, says Jens Holm, Sustainability Policy Director at European Solar Manufacturing Council. This ban marks a historic opportunity to both defend human rights and to bring back manufacturing capacities to Europe instead of being reliant on China and other regions with risks of forced labour, he continues.

In the same manner as ESMC welcomes the new law, the slow implementation process raises concerns. According to today’s decision it will take three years before the regulation is fully operational. That is far too long, and the ESMC expects the EU and its member states to start to work in the new law’s spirit already today.

The solar PV supply chains needs to be free from all human rights abuses now. Until the forced labour regulation is in place it will be up to the EU and its member states to do all they can to support socially and environmentally clean manufacturing in Europe totally free from forced labour. Just let’s get starting with it, says Jens Holm.

The European Commission published its proposal for a Regulation on Prohibiting Products made with Forced Labour in September 2022. The regulation will establish a framework to investigate and prevent the use of forced labour in the supply chains of companies. If the use of forced labour is proven, all import and export of the related goods would be stopped at the EU borders. The forced labour regulation was adopted today in the European Parliament with 555 votes in favour, 6 votes against and 45 abstentions. The text now has to get a final formal approval from the EU Council, which is expected to happen shortly and should only be a formality.

Jens Holm
ESMC Sustainability Policy Director

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