top of page



The EU Strategy

The strategy towards the "Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016" originally made the policy framework and identified five priorities the EU should focus on. It also outlined a number of actions which the European Commission was proposed to implement during 2012-2016 in concert with other actors, including Member States, European External Action Service, EU institutions, EU agencies, international organisations, third countries, civil society and the private sector.


Those priorities are (still) as follows:

  1. ​Identifying, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking

  2. ​Stepping up the prevention of trafficking in human beings

  3. ​Increased prosecution of traffickers

  4. ​Enhanced coordination and cooperation among key actors and policy coherence

  5. ​Increased knowledge of and effective response to emerging concerns related to all forms of trafficking in human beings


Trafficking in human beings is specifically prohibited by Article 5 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.


The political commitment at EU level to address the problem of trafficking in human beings is reflected in the large number of initiatives, measures and funding programmes established in the area both within the EU and third countries as early as in the 1990s.


The scope of the EU's framework includes both trafficking into Europe and intra-regional trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation in third countries.


Source: EU Actions Explained


Legal measures

A dynamic legal framework


The legal framework for addressing trafficking in human beings is the Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting victims, which was the first EU measure of criminal law nature to be adopted under the Lisbon Treaty.  It harmonises the definition of the crime and the penalties. It furthers sets robust provisions for the protection, assistance and support to victims, as well as provisions to prevent the crime and provisions to better monitor and evaluate EU's efforts. It places the victims at its heart, and ensures that people who are victims of trafficking are given an opportunity to recover and to re-integrate into society. The main points in new directive are described below.



Criminal law and prosecution


Rules requiring tougher criminal laws to make prosecution easier, including:

  • ​An EU-wide definition of the crime

  • ​Non-prosecution or non-application of penalties to the victim (such as using false documents) that are a direct consequence of them being trafficked

  • ​Possibility to prosecute EU nationals for crimes committed in other countries (extraterritorial jurisdiction)



Includes measures to:

  • Discourage demand for trafficking (employers hiring trafficked persons and clients buying sexual services from trafficking victims)

  • Promote training – both for victims and officials likely to come in contact with them (border police, police, social workers, healthcare professionals, labour inspectors, etc.)



Victim protection and support


Includes measures to:


  • Set up national mechanisms for identifying and assisting victims early on, based on cooperation between law enforcement and civil society bodies

  • Provide victims with support (shelter, medical and psychological assistance, information and interpreting services)

  • Ensure victims are treated appropriately as soon as there's an indication they have been trafficked, and are given assistance before, during and after criminal proceedings



The EU Anti-Trafficking Day



The EU Anti-Trafficking Day was established by the European Commission in 2007 and is marked on 18 October of every year. The main purpose has been to raise awareness on trafficking in human beings and increase the exchange of information, knowledge and best practices amongst the different actors working in this field. Each year, the respective EU Presidencies, together with the European Commission, as well as Member States organise events to mark this day at the EU and the national level.


Outcomes from the EU level events include the Recommendations on the identification and referral to services of victims of trafficking in human beings (2007), input to the Action Oriented Paper on strengthening of the external dimension on actions against trafficking in human beings (2009) and the Joint Statement of the Heads of EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies (2011).



In many countries NGOs are also organising events on the European Anti-Trafficking Day. You can find out more about what is happening in your area by visiting a NGO website from your country.


You can find a list of NGOs here



bottom of page