European Union countries cleared on Friday a proposed law requiring large companies in the bloc to check if their supply chains use forced labour or cause environmental damage and rectify this if they do, the Belgian EU presidency said in a statement on X.

A 'qualified majority' of 15 EU countries representing 65% of the EU population was required for the initiative to proceed to a final vote in the European Parliament, which is expected to support it.

On Friday, a sufficient number of envoys from the 27 EU countries backed the law, despite Germany's decision to abstain.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by GV De Clercq)