Taking stock of measures taken since 2015, the report highlights the main trends in trafficking in human beings and outlines remaining challenges that the EU and Member States must address as a matter of priority.
The report shows that 20,532 men, women and children were registered as victims of trafficking in the EU in 2015-2016. However, the actual number is likely to be significantly higher as many victims remain undetected. Women and girls continue to be most vulnerable to trafficking (68%) while children represent 23% of registered victims.
Trafficking for sexual exploitation remains the most widespread form (56%), followed by trafficking for labour exploitation (26%). The level of prosecutions and convictions is low, with 5,979 prosecutions and 2,927 convictions reported and only 18 reported convictions for knowingly using services provided by victims. The report also highlights an increase in trafficking within Member States and targeting of younger victims and persons with disabilities. The use of Internet and social media to recruit victims is also noted as well as the heightened risk of trafficking in the context of migration.
While there have been certain improvements, particularly in relation to cross-border cooperation (demonstrated by the joint efforts of Europol and Eurojust), the phenomenon continues to evolve. As a result, the Commission outlines a number of priority areas for Member States to focus on to effectively combat trafficking in human beings:
Since the release of a first progress report, the Commission has taken numerous steps to address trafficking in human beings and will continue to assist Member States in their efforts, through both financial support and operational measures.