On 8 September 2020, Belgian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Pascal Arimont of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“On 20 July, the United States Department of Commerce added 11 Chinese companies to the US economic blacklist for their complicity in human rights violations related to the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang in western China. The US has now cited 37 companies and others involved in China’s repression in Xinjiang.
In light of this:
1. Is the Commission aware of products imported from China which have been produced through human rights abuses of the Uyghur people?
2. What action is DG Trade proposing against companies, organisations and individuals, be they European or Chinese, which are complicit in human rights abuses against the Uyghur community in China?
3. In line with Commissioner Reynders’ proposed policies for transparent supply chain audits, will the Commission consider drawing up an economic blacklist to help European businesses identify foreign entities involved in human rights abuses?”
On 1 February 2021, Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission is gravely concerned with the situation of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The EU has repeatedly expressed concerns, both in bilateral meetings with the Chinese authorities and in international fora, about the violation of human rights situation and called on China to respect its human rights obligations. The EU has also been at the forefront of international efforts to facilitate meaningful access and a conducive environment for visits by independent observers to the region.
As for European companies, the EU attaches great importance to promoting responsible business practices on their part and has a solid body of legislation and measures on responsible business conduct. For example, under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, large EU companies are required to provide regular reports on how they mitigate risks in their supply chains. Based on international guidelines and principles, European companies operating in China are already encouraged to implement effective human rights due diligence practices across their supply chains.
In addition, the Commission is working to further enhance due diligence requirements and promote responsible business conduct in supply chains. To this end, the Commission is working to present a legislative proposal in 2021 on sustainable corporate governance, which may introduce mandatory due diligence requirements concerning human rights and the environment across all sectors. EU companies would then be obliged to take measures to identify and address human rights violations in their supply chains. At this stage of the legislative procedure, the Commission cannot give more specific replies to the Honourable Member’s question.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/china-land-smartphone-search-3303411/