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EU Commissioner for Home Affairs
EU takes eradication of trafficking in human beings from words to action
Brussels, 17 October 2014
Between 2010-2012, 30.146 women, men, girls and boys were registered as victims of trafficking in the EU Member States. That means 30.146 broken lives, and as many broken dreams. Victims living in horrific conditions in today's Europe, exploited against their will.
In fact, we can assume that the actual number of victims is even higher. This is what we are told by law enforcement and other authorities and those remarkable people working in shelters and other organisations assisting victims every day.
Marking the Eight EU Anti trafficking day taking place tomorrow, on the 18th of October, we are now taking stock of all the efforts taken during this Commission mandate to eradicate this horrible phenomenon. To prevent more people from becoming victims. To assist and support those who have fallen prey to criminals. And to make sure that the perpetrators do not escape justice.
Trafficking in human beings is one of the most severe violations of human rights. It is a serious and organised crime, prohibited explicitly by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It is a phenomenon that knows no borders, and one that Member State cannot tackle alone. We must act together and we must act with a sense of urgency.
During this mandate, we have laid the foundations to deal with this issue jointly in the EU. We have adopted the 2011 EU Anti-trafficking Directive, so courts all over Europe are now judging crimes relating to human trafficking as equally severe, with common prison sentences, and EU countries are obliged to provide proper support to victims. We have also presented the EU Strategy, with forty concrete actions.
During this Commission, there has been a clear shift in how Europe deals with this issue. I am today proud to present three separate documents to you today, about the work that we have undertaken.
First, we are presenting the Mid-term Report on the EU Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking. Vast amounts of work has already been done across Europe to carry out the Strategy. For instance to…
I.Better inform victims of their rights, and help authorities in the Member States deliver the assistance and protection that victims need and deserve: the Commission has published "The EU rights of victims of trafficking in human beings" available in all languages on the EU anti-trafficking website
II.We have become better at identifying the victims. This is one of the biggest challenges we face in this work. For example, we have published Guidelines for border guards and consular services.
III.We are now better at assisting and protecting children who are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Member States are now required to immediately appoint a guardian to unaccompanied child victims.
IV.We are increasingly engaging and cooperate closely with civil society. I have for this purpose launched the EU Civil Society Platform against trafficking, and launched an electronic Platform for hundreds of civil society organisations.
V.Our agencies are now better coordinated and we are strengthening the cooperation with non-EU countries
So, a lot has been achieved. But needless to say, much remains to be done.
In addition to the progress made to directly address trafficking, we have also significantly improved our understanding of the extent of the problem, through statistics at EU level.
Today I can present to you our second set of statistical data on trafficking in human beings, covering the years 2010, 2011 and 2012:
Collecting reliable, accurate and comparable statistical data at EU level has been a hard and very complex task, but since 2013, we have official statistics on trafficking in human beings at EU level. What we have developed is one of the most comprehensive analyses of the available data in this field.
We do not claim to have measured the full extent of trafficking but we are today able to provide the numbers on the victims and traffickers that have been reported as coming in contact with authorities and actors at national level.
Member States have become better at reporting this data to us in the Commission.
However, differences between Member States when it comes to definitions and the recording of data still makes it difficult to compare and assess trends across Member States. But let me give you some key figures:
During the period 2010-2012, Member States registered 30 146 victims of trafficking in human beings for 2010-2012. Two-thirds of them were EU citizens.
Sadly, over 1.000 child victims were reported as trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Trafficking victims overall were 80% female (that is, 67% women and 13% girls). 20% were male. 16% of registered victims were children.
The data also shows how trafficking affects men and women differently: The overwhelming majority of the victims of sexual exploitation were female. And the large majority of victims of labour exploitation were male.
And now to the traffickers and how EU Member States bring them to justice: Over 8 500 prosecutions for trafficking in human beings were reported by Member States over the three years 2010-2012.
Seven out of ten traffickers were male. This is the case for both suspects and convicted traffickers.
And finally: Almost 3 800 convictions for trafficking in human beings were reported by Member States over the three years.
We will continue our efforts to collect reliable data to guide our efforts in making efficient policies and improve the situation of victims.
Finally, the Commission has adopted today a report on our Directive that allows for residence permits to non-EU victims of trafficking, who cooperate with the authorities.
This Directive is an important instrument. It addresses the specific situation of trafficking victims from outside the EU, to ensure that they get the right support, and that they can stay in Europe – so that authorities can take their traffickers to court.
The figures that we are presenting today show that the possibility of issuing temporary residence permits to victims of trafficking is currently under-used by Member States. For example, in 2012 1,124 first residence permits were granted in the EU to victims who cooperated with the authorities, whereas for that very same year 23 Member States registered more than 2,171 non-EU citizens as victims of trafficking. The Commission is currently looking into the transposition of the 2011 EU anti-trafficking Directive and this will provide further evidence to help us consider whether we need to change this Directive on residence permits
Therefore let me conclude by stressing again how important it is that ALL EU COUNTRIES transpose and implement all EU laws in full.
Also, the deadline for putting the EU anti-Trafficking Directive in place passed in April of last year. Now, a year and a half later, all but two Member States have informed the Commission that they have made the Directive into national laws. Unfortunately, Belgium and Germany have still not done so. I expect all Member States to fulfil their obligations and transpose the Directive into national law without delay. The Commission will not hesitate to take the necessary measures to ensure that this is being done.
To conclude - as you may know, I’m leaving my role as EU Home Affairs Commissioner soon. The new Anti-Trafficking legislation was my first order of business when I became Commissioner in 2010, and one of the things that I’m most proud of. Now, it will be up to my successor to make sure that we keep up the pressure on Member States to implement and make full use of these laws. That we carry out all of the actions that we have set out to do, and that a new Strategy against trafficking is drawn up when the present one is finished.
I believe that we are making good progress in eradicating this awful crime. Now, we owe it to those 30.146 victims to keep up the pace in our efforts. Thank you.