Green Talking Heads

How the EU can improve its fight against child labour
#07

Saskia Bricmont

MEP for the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament and Member of Ecolo

16December
2021
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How the EU can improve its fight against child labour

In this episode, Sarah Diedro is in conversation with MEP for the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and member of Ecolo Saskia Bricmont. They discuss the pressing issue of child labour and the European Union’s concerning footprint of child labour imports, as well as what can be done to lower it without pushing children into more dangerous activities.

Today we launch two episodes on forced and child labour. In the first episode, Sarah Diedro is in conversation with MEP for the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and member of the German Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) Anna Cavazzini. They discuss forced labour and what the European Union can do to tackle this critical issue, whilst also protecting the vulnerable people who suffer from it. In the second episode, Sarah Diedro is in conversation with MEP for the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and member of Ecolo Saskia Bricmont. They discuss the pressing issue of child labour and the European Union’s concerning footprint of child labour imports, as well as what can be done to lower it without pushing children into more dangerous activities.

Child labour

In the second part of this podcast we want to tackle another very concerning issue: that of child labour. It is important to distinguish forced labour vs. child labour, aseven though there are child labour situations which can be assimilated as forced labour, in most of the cases child labour is due to the socioeconomic situation of the family and community. This situation has worsened during the pandemic as many families in the Global South have run out of income, and many schools have closed. This has led to a clear increase in child labour within low-income families and communities.

Green MEP Saskia Bricmont has commissioned a study called ’50 Billions Euros: Europe’s Child Labour Footprint in 2019′, published in May 2021. Its main finding is that 2,43% (or 1/41 of all EU imports) during 2019 consisted of products made with child labour. With the authors of the study, they have developed an application where detailed data (disaggregated by regions, countries, and products) can be found.

More than 80% of child labour related imports are coming from 3 sectors: agriculture, electronic and textile. How should the EU tackle this? Development cooperation and EU trade policies is the main response. Unconditional trade bans and sanctions would likely lower child welfare and increase child labour. That’s why an approach to child labour should consider the degree of socio-economic development of the EU trade partners. Therefore, a system of incentives and disincentives/sanctions depending on the country situation, could be put in place. These would consist of general aid (in form of European aid programmes such as the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation instrument (NDICI); conditional aid (premised on performance tied to educational outcomes); conditional market access and trade preferences; surgical import bans; public procurement measures; creation of lists; or rebalancing measures (In order to be in a position to credibly challenge a trade partner on child labour ultimate outcomes, the EU should insert conditionality in re- negotiated and future trade deals, which in turn could trigger “rebalancing measures”).

Other measures concerning mandatory human rights due diligence and Investment Protection Agreements are considered in this study as well. Although the biggest changemakers are policymakers, there are other measures that citizens can take as consumers. They can demand more transparency, consume second hand products based on the circular economy, and educate and raise awareness within future generations on this matter.

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Urszula Sara Zielińska

member of the Polish Parliament, co-chair of Partia Zieloni

Rui Tavares

Portuguese National MP, city councillor in Lisbon and Co-Spokesperson of LIVRE

23June
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Ricarda Lang

Co-chair of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and Member of the German Bundestag

Virginijus Sinkevičius

European Commissioner of Environment, Oceans and Fisheries

Dritan Abazović

Prime Minister of Montenegro

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City of Valencia

Claire Roumet

Director of Energy Cities

Eloi Badia

City of Barcelona

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Jan Penfrat

EDRi Senior Policy Advisor

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Digital Workers’ rights activist

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Green Member of the European Parliament

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Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and Former Green MEP

10January
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How the EU can improve its fight against forced labourHealth Polices
#06

Anna Cavazzini

MEP for the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and Member of the German Greens

15December
2021
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In this episode, Sarah Diedro is in conversation with MEP for the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and member of the German Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) Anna Cavazzini. They discuss forced labour and what the European Union can do to tackle this critical issue, whilst also protecting the vulnerable people who suffer from it.

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Oras Tynkkynen

European Green Party Committee Member

Terhi Lehtonen

State Secretary of the Finnish Ministry of Environment

05November
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