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EU steps up fight against people trafficking - 19/06/2012

Proposals for coordinated measures against human trafficking aim to protect victims and target criminals more effectively.

Agnès arrived from the Ivory Coast as an orphan on the promise of an education. Instead she was made to work as a domestic servant without pay. Teodora came from Romania and was forced to become a prostitute in Belgium.

They are but 2 of the hundreds of thousands of adults and children who were or are modern-day slaves in the EU – coerced into becoming prostitutes, beggars, labourers, domestic servants, or working in other ways for little or no pay.

Almost all Europeans (93%) agree that EU countries need to cooperate in ending human trafficking, according to a survey . In response, the Commission is setting priority measures governments can take together over the next 5 years to help victims and jail traffickers more effectively. These include:

  • helping victims, especially children – developing a cross-border approach so countries can assist each other in tracking and protecting victims; providing clearer information to victims about their EU rights
  • more prevention, less demand – funding research to better understand the economics of trafficking and provide solutions; establishing a pan-European business coalition against human trafficking
  • catching and prosecuting traffickers – establishing specialised national investigation units to conduct more joint investigations with EU agencies such as Europol
  • more coordination and cooperation – within the EU, with international organisations and with other countries, creating EU-wide networks for NGOs and others working to protect victims here and abroad
  • responding effectively to emerging trends – developing an EU-wide system for sharing information and supporting research on Internet and social networks used to recruit victims.

Next steps

The new proposals will be considered by the European Parliament and EU governments. They complement an EU law adopted last year that establishes common standards on prosecuting traffickers and protecting victims. EU countries have until April 2013 to incorporate the rules into their national laws.

The Commission will report every 2 years on the progress EU countries make on fighting human trafficking, with the first scheduled for 2014.

More on EU action against human trafficking

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