Human trafficking

The victims of human trafficking are often the most vulnerable in society – the poor, minorities, women and children. The EU approach to tackling the trafficking of human beings encompasses law enforcement, prevention and victim support.

The EU's approach to trafficking begins from a gender and human rights perspective and focuses on prevention, prosecution of criminals and protection of victims. This is reflected in the Directive on trafficking in human beings , which was adopted on 21 March 2011.

At the end of 2010, the Commission appointed Ms. Myria Vassiliadou to the position of EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. Her task is to improve coordination and coherence between EU institutions, agencies and States as well as non-EU countries and international actors in the field of anti-trafficking. A new EU anti-trafficking policy website has also been launched, which provides a one-stop-shop for practitioners and the public interested in the problem of trafficking.

The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings was adopted in 2012. This updated the 2005 EU Action Plan on best practices, standards and procedures for combating and preventing trafficking in human beings. The strategy is a set of concrete and practical measures to be implemented over the next five years. These include prevention, protection, support of the victims and prosecution of the traffickers as well as the establishment of national law enforcement units specialized in human trafficking and the creation of joint European investigation teams to prosecute cross-border trafficking cases.

As with other human rights issues, the EU raises trafficking in political dialogues with third countries, within multilateral and regional fora, and at the level of cooperation programmes, for example in development.

Financial assistance is made available through the EU programme on migration and asylum and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).