Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings

EU Legislation

EU Legislation

EU legislation provides for various instruments on addressing trafficking in human beings.

The Seasonal Workers Directive (2014/36/EU) sets the conditions of entry and stay of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers.

The Directive rules governing working conditions aim to prevent exploitation and protect the health and safety of non-EU seasonal workers. 

Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA.

The purpose of this Directive is to ensure that victims of crime receive appropriate information, support and protection and are able to participate in criminal proceedings.

Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA

This Directive establishes minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and solicitation of children for sexual purposes. It also introduces provisions to strengthen the prevention of those crimes and the protection of the victims thereof.

The European Commission has adopted the decision to apply to United Kingdom the Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.

The Directive 2011/36/EU shall come into force for the United Kingdom from the date of notification of this Decision.

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime

The Directive gives a definition of “victims” as “natural persons who have suffered harm […] caused by a criminal offence” and “family members of a person whose death has been caused by a criminal offence”. These victims are granted several quite specific rights.
The first set of rights (Art. 3 – 7) deal with the provision of information and support to victims.
The second set of rights (Art. 8 – 16) deal with the rights of victims to participate and when participating in a criminal procedure.
The third set of rights (Art. 17 – 23) deal with protection of victims against “retaliation, intimidation, repeat or further victimisation.”
This Directive addresses the specific needs of particularly vulnerable victims in a more targeted manner. In particular, adult victims of trafficking in human beings, child victims of trafficking in human beings, child victims of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child pornography shall benefit from the measures established in Council Directive 2011/36/EU.

Report on the application of Directive 2004/81 on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings13 pages

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of Directive 2004/81 on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration, who cooperate with the competent authorities

The EU directive 2004/81/EC from 2004 makes it possible for Member States to issue residence permits linked to the length of national proceedings in exchange for cooperation of victims with investigation authorities. The Commission report shows that in a majority of EU Member States, only a small number of residence permits are issued to victims of trafficking.

It notes that while the number of identified victims in some Member States ranges from several hundred to even two thousand per year, the number of residence permits based on the Directive is rarely higher than twenty per year.  Although a proportion of victims would not qualify under this Directive (e.g. because they are not third-country nationals), the difference between identified victims and those who made use of the specific residence permits is significant. The report indicates that the potential of the Directive in dismantling networks of traffickers while protecting the rights of victims is not being put to full use.

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of seasonal employment

The structural need for low-skilled and low-qualified workers is likely to continue expanding and there is a more permanent need for unskilled labour within the EU. Further, there is significant evidence that certain third-country seasonal workers face exploitation and sub-standard working conditions which may threaten their health and safety.

For this reason the Commission has been asked by the Hague Programme of November 2004 to present a policy plan on legal migration ‘including admission procedures, capable of responding promptly to fluctuating demands for migrant labour in the labour market’. The aim of this Directive will be to set up swift and flexible admission procedures and to guarantee a legal status for seasonal workers to protect them against exploitation.

Directive 2009/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 providing for minimum standards on sanctions and measures against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals

This Directive establishes that cooperation among Member States should be strengthened to tackle illegal immigration. In particular measures against illegal employment should be intensified at Member State and EU level.

Member States should guarantee the full effectiveness of the general prohibition by providing criminal penalties in their national legislation in serious cases, such as the illegal employment of a significant number of third-country nationals, particularly exploitative working conditions, the employer knowing that the worker is a victim of trafficking in human beings and the illegal employment of a minor.

The Directive stresses also that Member States should be free to grant residence permits of limited duration, to third-country nationals who have been subjected to particularly exploitative working conditions or who were illegally employed minors and who cooperate in criminal proceedings against the employer.

Council Directive 2002/90/EC of 28 November 2002 defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence

The Directive 2002/90/EC defines assisting irregular migration.

The Directive requires that Member States apply appropriate penalties against those who attempt, instigate or commit the infringement of assisting irregular migration procedures. The Directive 2002/90/EC punishes assisting irregular migration for financial gain no matter whether a criminal organization is involved or not.

Council Framework Decision of 28 November 2002 on the strengthening of the penal framework to prevent the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence

This framework decision establishes a common action for European Union countries to prevent violations relating to the facilitation of illegal immigration, illegal employment, trafficking in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children.
The framework decision provides minimum rules for penalties, liability of legal persons and jurisdiction.

2000/375/JHA, 2000, 5 pages

With this Council Decision, the European Union aims to prevent and combat the production, processing, distribution and possession of child pornography on the Internet.

In order to intensify the measures to prevent and combat this crime, established focal points should be established for communication between Member States together with other channels such as Europol and Interpol. A dialogue between Member States and the industry should further eliminate child pornography on the Internet.

Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA

The European Commission welcomes the publication on 5 April 2011 of the new EU Directive 2011/36/EU on prevention and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ L 101, 1 15.4.2011). The adoption follows a Commission Directive proposal last spring, with binding legislation to prevent trafficking, to effectively prosecute criminals, and to better protect the victims, in line with the highest European standards.

"This is a very important step towards a comprehensive and more effective European anti-trafficking policy. I would like to thank the Council and the European Parliament for the swift adoption of this directive. The new ambitious rules adopted today will keep the EU at the forefront of the international fight against human trafficking by protecting the victims and punishing the criminals behind this modern slavery", said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.

The Directive takes a victim centred approach, including a gender perspective, to cover actions in different areas such as criminal law provisions, prosecution of offenders, victims' support and victims' rights in criminal proceedings, prevention and monitoring of the implementation.

 

The Directive 2011/36/EU is available in 23 languages

COM_2007_716 final, 9 pages

This report concludes that most Member States have adopted the necessary measures to comply with the provisions of the Framework Decision on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. The Commission notes the need to revise the Framework Decision, in particular to deal with offences related to developments in electronic communications technologies.

2004/68/JHA, 5 pages

The purpose of this Framework Decision is to approximate the laws and regulations in Member States in order to combat the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. The Framework Decision introduces a base of common provisions on criminalisation, sanctions, aggravating circumstances, jurisdiction and assistance to victims.

COM/2010/95 final, 24 pages

The Commission proposal for a Directive on preventing and combating human trafficking and protecting victims, adopted on 29 March 2010, will replace the 2002 EU framework decision on combating trafficking in human beings. The proposal for a Directive further reconciles discrepancies between the laws of the Member States on prevention, victim protection and prosecution of traffickers. The new Directive brings robust provisions on victim's protection, including national mechanisms for early identification and assistance, and supports the principle of non-punishment for petty crimes and unconditional assistance. It also obliges MS to set up National Rapporteurs or equivalent mechanisms to be responsible for monitoring implementation of anti-trafficking policy at the national level.*

* This Directive follows up on the Commission's proposal for a Framework Decision on the same subject from March 2009. That proposal was negotiated in Council during 2009, and political agreement was reached on a text in the JHA Council of the 30 November 2009. The next day, the proposal for a Framework Decision lapsed due to the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.