Today, the Commission is presenting its Third Report on the progress made in the fight against human trafficking. Progress has been made in several areas, such as transnational cooperation particularly through referral mechanisms and as demonstrated through the joint efforts of Europol and Eurojust. However, the crime continues to evolve:
- Nearly half of the victims are EU citizens (49%), and one third (34%) of the victims were trafficked within their own EU Member State.
- The vast majority of trafficking victims are women and girls (72%). Almost one in every four (22%) victims of trafficking is a child.
- While trafficking for sexual exploitation remains the predominant purpose for trafficking, labour exploitation is also reported. This is also linked to the context of migration by the vulnerable situations migrants often face.
- The number of prosecutions and convictions remains low in relation to the reported number of victims. In 2017/2018, 14,145 victims were registered, but there were only 6,163 prosecutions and 2,426 convictions.
- The crime is increasingly online as traffickers make increasing use of the internet and social media to recruit and exploit victims.
- The coronavirus pandemic exacerbates vulnerability to trafficking, causes delays in identifying victims and hinders access to justice, assistance and support.
Protecting society from organised crime, and in particular tackling trafficking in human beings, is a priority under the new EU Security Union Strategy. A new strategic approach towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings is already underway as part of the EU’s Security Union Strategy and the New Pact on Migration and Asylum and will be developed in the context of the Agenda on tackling organised crime to be presented in early 2021.