European Parliament seminar on combating and preventing trafficking in human beings: the way forward

During the seminar, members of European Parliament urged greater emphasis on this issue. As Parliament's rapporteur Anna Hedh said it "is 2010 and women are still sold into slavery - even though slavery was abolished long ago". The Swedish Socialist believes Europe is engaged in an "every day struggle" against it.

Experience has shown that the EU legal framework is not effective enough and that the EU has to do more. With this perspective, in 2009 the European Commission presented a proposal for a new Framework Decision. Due to the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, which interrupted all ongoing legislative procedures, negotiation at Council could not lead to the formal adoption of the Framework Decision and the European Commission has tabled a new proposal for a Directive on Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, and protecting victims, repealing Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA (COM(2010)95 final). The legislative process concerning the Commission's proposal of 29 March 2010 is ongoing, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) co-sharing the competence from the European Parliament side. The aim of this Seminar is to explore ways forward, together with the relevant institutional and civil society stakeholders, at EU and international level, in order to give the rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs the widest awareness of the phenomenon in view of negotiating the proposed Directive.


On 29 March 2010 the European Commission tabled a proposal for a new Directive on trafficking in human beings, COM(2010)95,aimed at further approximating legislation and penalties, ensuring successful prosecution, better protection of and assistance to victims, and prevention of trafficking. The text proposes a broader concept of what should be considered trafficking including "forced begging". An EP resolution in February stressed that "victims of human trafficking, especially women and children, should receive protection and "unconditional" assistance".

It builds on a previous Commission proposal made on 25 March 2009 aiming to establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of trafficking in human beings. The Directive, if approved, will replace current EU legislation dating from 2002 (Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA).

The European Parliament, who will have a codecision role, is currently preparing a report about the proposed directive.

The seminar is organised to provide a forum for discussion in light of these plans.


The seminar is organised jointly by two committees of the European Parliament: the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality.

According to several of Europe's police forces present at the seminar, trafficking in people is the third most lucrative form of crime after drugs and weapons. However, trafficking is still seen as a "low risk" activity for criminals. Steve Harvey of Europol's Serious Crime Department said, "We still do not have the hostile environment that makes traffickers think twice". He also said that patterns of trafficking were changing: "Five years ago it was easy to point to a map and say where people were being trafficked from. This is not the case today. Since Schengen opened its borders, this has facilitated trafficking."

Martina García Aranda from the Spanish presidency of the EU said the proposal would also punish clients using a service if they knew that the person was a victim of trafficking. In Sweden those seeking sex from people who have been trafficked can face criminal prosecution. Mats Paulsson of Gothenburgs anti-trafficking unit, said the Swedish model of criminalisation of sex purchasing has made it possible to bring down demand.

Slovak centre right MEP Ms Edit Bauer is Parliament's co-rapporteur on this issue. Closing the seminar she said, "we have a real responsibility, it is important that there should be a European approach"

Background documents

Here is a selection of links to key resources

European Parliament resolution of 10 February 2010 on preventing trafficking in human beings

Press release on the “Proposal for a Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting victims, repealing Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA” (29 March 2010)

The current status of the procedure concerning the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council.

Resources related to the seminar (including video, speakers’ notes and background documents)

Video of the hearing