Monday

23rd Apr 2018

Demand for forced labour increasing in EU

The economic crisis is leading to a rise in the number of people being trafficked for sex, hard labour or organ donation, the EU commission said Monday (15 April,) but the vast majority of member states have failed to implement an anti-trafficking law.

While the Czech Republic, Latvia, Finland, Hungary, Poland and Sweden have transposed the law, the remaining 21 member states, including Bulgaria and Romania from where most of the victims come, have not.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The EU has published official statistics on human trafficking, but the real numbers are thought to be much higher (Photo: Hans Op De Beeck)

Reported statistics, published by statistical agency eurostat, show that around 23,600 people were trafficked between 2008 and 2010. The figure rose each studied year with 6,309 in 2008; 7795 in 2009 and 9,528 in 2010.

EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom put the rise in numbers partly down to Europe's economic crisis which has seen public spending slashed and GDP slump in several EU countries.

"We see signs of organised crime gangs increasing their trafficking activities as demand for forced labour increases in the EU in parallel with the worsening economic crisis," she said.

But she warned that the official numbers are likely only be the "tip of the iceberg," with a 2012 study by the International Labour Organisation indication that 880,000 people in the EU are in forced labour, including sexual exploitation.

Among those trafficked, women represent the greatest share (68%) and are mostly likely to be trafficked for sex (62%). Other reasons for trafficking, which is increasingly referred to as modern day slavery, included forced labour (25%) with organ removal, begging, criminal activities and trafficking to sell children accounting for 14 percent.

Men make up 17 percent of those trafficked, while 12 percent are girls and 3 percent are boys.

"As we speak, men, women, and children are being sold for sex, hard labour in agriculture, construction, or the textile industry. They are forced into marriages, domestic servitude, begging or have their organs removed for trade," said Malmstrom.

She added that she was "very disappointed" with those member states that missed the 6 April deadline. The law includes a common definition of the crime - making it harder for traffickers to shop around for lenient justice systems - as well as the possibility to prosecute EU nationals for crimes committed in other member states. There are also provisions to help prevent trafficking by raising awareness and supporting victims.

Human trafficking is 'modern day slavery'

Human trafficking is the slavery of our times, with the victims a tiny cog in a corruption machine that involves criminal gangs working across several member states, say experts.

Opinion

EU: Show leadership to end forced labour

Forced labour and human trafficking may seem distant from ordinary Europeans on the eve of Labour Day, but almost 1 million victims in Europe have little to celebrate.

EU takes step closer to 'posted workers' deal

Negotiators from the member states, EU Parliament and Commission reached a 'common understanding' to guarantee equal pay for equal work in the EU. They hope to reach a final agreement in June.

Magazine

A sustainable death wish

No one can escape death. But choices over how one's body is disposed of could either lessen or increase your carbon footprint.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists