Will the EU Ban Solar Products Linked to Forced Labor?

The European Commission is taking a firm stance against forced labor, aiming to prevent any products, even those partially produced by forced labor, from being imported into the . However, the industry, a field with major ongoing projects, is pushing back, advocating for a softer approach.

Resistance from the Solar Energy Industry

The industry's resistance is demonstrated by the vocal criticisms from SolarPower Europe. This lobby group, which represents around 600 companies in the solar sector, has expressed concern over the proposed measures. Their worry originates from the possible reversal of the proof burden in potentially dangerous situations. Such a change would mean companies would be obligated to demonstrate that there's no forced labor involved in their supply chains, which could prove to be a complex task.

SolarPower Europe’s Counter Proposal

Rather than implementing the European Commission's plan, SolarPower Europe is advocating for the adoption of measures from its Solar Stewardship Initiative. This initiative focuses on encouraging targeted efforts from companies in the sector. It also supports the use of third-party verification to ensure there's no forced labor in the production chains.

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Challenges and Uncertainties

Despite this counter proposal, there are still challenges in regions like Xinjiang, where external observers are not permitted, making the verification of free labor difficult. The efficacy of the solar lobby's activism is also uncertain, with no clear indication of how much it will influence the impending legislation. The solar power field continues to be a subject of major projects and will likely remain in the spotlight as these debates continue.

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