Cocoa Coalition members including Fairtrade, Mondelēz, Unilever, Rainforest Alliance and others have signed a position paper supporting objectives of proposed EU regulation on ‘Prohibiting Products Made With Forced Labour on the Union Market’.
The regulation looks to prohibit all products made with forced labour as, according to EU estimates, a total 27.6 million people are in forced labour worldwide. in the cocoa sector, according to findings gathered from a collaboration between Tulane University, Tony’s Chocolonely and the Chocolonely Foundation, there is an estimated 1.5 million children working in the cocoa industry in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Worryingly, findings showed that less than one percent of working children are forced to work by someone other than a parent, with an estimated number of 16,000 forced child labourers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
“This proposal will make a real difference in tackling modern-day slavery, which affects millions of people around the globe. Our aim is to eliminate all products made with forced labour from the EU market, irrespective of where they have been made,” explained Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice President and Commissioner for Trade.
If the regulation is passed, authorities will start investigations on products where there are founded suspicions they have been made with forced labour. If forced labour is found, authorities will order the withdrawal of these products on the market.
“In today’s geopolitics, we need both secure and sustainable supply chains. We cannot maintain a model of consumption of goods produced unsustainably,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market. “Being industrial and technological leaders presupposes being more assertive in defending our values and in setting our rules and standards.”
In the signed letter from the Cocoa Coalition, the signatories said that they believed the regulation would be capable of transforming the cocoa and chocolate sector into one that respects human rights and environmental sustainability.
The signatories endorse areas for improvement included in the EU’s consultation on the proposal, which was developed by the International Cocoa Initiative, one of the members of the Cocoa Coalition, covering definitions, enforcement and guidance, remediation, purchasing practices and state-imposed forced labour.
“We also stress the importance of ensuring that the costs of compliance with the regulation are shared fairly across the supply chain, and do not fall only on cocoa farmers,” they wrote.
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