Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings

Briefing 14-06-2023

On 19 December 2022, the European Commission put forward a proposal for the targeted revision of Directive 2011/36/EU, which is the main EU instrument to combat trafficking in human beings and protect its victims. Despite progress achieved in fighting this crime, the Commission reports that, on average, 7 000 people per year are victims of human trafficking in the EU and that this figure is most likely only the tip of the iceberg. Moreover, forms of exploitation have evolved over time and have adapted to the new environment. For instance, criminal networks are now taking advantage of the possibilities offered by new technologies to recruit victims. Most recently, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has generated a massive displacement of women and children and created new opportunities for criminal organisations. While a large majority of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are women and girls, men are more victims of trafficking for labour exploitation, the share of which is increasing, or are forced to commit criminal activities. Against this background, the Commission is proposing a set of amendments to strengthen the current rules, further harmonise provisions across Member States in order to reduce demand, and collect robust data and statistics.