EU Trafficking Directive

Combating human trafficking is one of the European Union priorities in the area of justice and home affairs. In March 2010, the European Commission proposed a Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting victims. The European Parliament voted in favour of the proposed directive in December 2010 and the Council of Ministers adopted a final text on 21 March 2011.

The Lisbon Treaty gives the UK Government the right to opt in to legislation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs. This means that the Government can decide whether or not to apply EU law adopted in this field in the UK. In June 2010 the Government announced it favoured an opt out. The Government has since reviewed this decision after seeing the final text of the Directive and now intends to opt in. The Commission welcomes this move.

As national human rights institution and equality body for Great Britain we encouraged the government to opt in to this valuable new legal instrument. We stressed to Theresa May, the Home Secretary and Damian Greene, Minister for Immigration, that signing up to the Directive was right in principle and in practice as it would help the Government to tackle human trafficking.

The Directive will add value to the UK anti-trafficking framework in a number of areas and in particular:

  • it will consolidate and broaden the definition of human trafficking
  • it will strengthen efforts to fight child trafficking and enhance child protection
  • it will mandate a victim centred approach in protection, provision and prosecution.

Further information


Last Updated: 17 Mar 2011