The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime (Karen Bradley):
The Forced Labour Convention (the Convention) is 1 of 8 fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO proposed supplementing the Convention by agreeing a recommendation and a protocol on how ILO members should apply aspects of the Convention.
The European Commission proposed that a council decision should be adopted to determine the position to be taken on behalf of the EU during negotiations on the recommendation. The government, while supporting the implementation of the Forced Labour Convention, did not agree that the EU had the competence to negotiate this recommendation on behalf of the member states, and did not agree that there was an appropriate legal base in the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union to allow the council to agree a decision setting out a common position in relation to an international organisation of which the EU was not a member. The government therefore decided not to opt in to the JHA provisions with the council decision. A number of other member states supported the UK position and the council decision was not adopted ahead of the ILO conference.
The UK, along with other EU member states, supported both the protocol and the recommendation following negotiations at the International Labour Conference, and the ILO has subsequently adopted both instruments.