Trafficking in human beings is a violation of fundamental rights, and as such it is explicitly prohibited under Article 5 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Trafficking in human beings is also listed as a crime in Article 83 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Crimes listed in Article 83 are known as ‘Euro crimes’. These are particularly serious crimes with a cross-border dimension.
The EU has developed a comprehensive legal and policy framework to address trafficking in human beings in particular the Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims (Anti-trafficking Directive) and the EU Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings 2012-2016.
Article 2 par.1 of the Anti-trafficking Directive defines trafficking in human beings as
"The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or reception of persons, including the exchange or transfer of control over those persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation"
In 2010 the Commission appointed an EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, who is responsible for improving coordination and consistency between EU institutions, EU agencies, the Member States and international actors, and for developing new and improving existing EU policies to tackle trafficking in human beings.