Disconnecting agricultural workers' exploitation from migration policies: a trend towards a business and human rights approach in the European Union
European Law Open
AbstractSeasonal migrants' exploitation in Europe, especially in agriculture, is often seen as having its origins in failure of migration or labour policies. Indeed, the virtual impossibility to enter a country as a regular non-European Union (EU) worker coupled with the needs of agricultural work, requiring low-skilled workforce and short time notice for recruitment, generates a perfect environment for exploitation and the related phenomenon of gangmastering. However, work exploitation in
... ulture is nowadays a structural problem, requiring structural changes in the way food is produced and intended by the agri-food supply chain as a whole. Indeed, a truly preventative approach needs not only to protect seasonal migrants from human rights violations, but also to involve agribusiness in tackling the root causes of migrants' exploitation. Building on international standards on business and human rights, the aim of this contribution is to propose a more holistic view of the phenomenon workers exploitation in agriculture. Recent European policies seem to have understood this need, calling enterprises and farmers to bear their responsibility by introducing an accountability discourse for the agribusiness and the food supply chain, either indirectly or directly. The new social conditionality clause in the Common Agricultural Policy, the Directive on Unfair Practices in Agriculture and the recent Commission proposal for a Directive on mandatory human rights due diligence should therefore be read in conjunction with major developments in international law that call for the responsibility of powerful private actors operating in agri-food sector.