In July, the EU Commission published a combined evaluation roadmap / inception impact assessment on “Fighting human trafficking – review of EU rules”. This public consultation, which closed on 16 September 2021, aimed to gather views relevant for both the evaluation of the Directive and the impact assessment. You can see the submissions by La Strada International, KOK, PAG-Asa, ESWA (formerly ICRCE) and Victim Support Europe.
In the request for feedback, the European Commission suggested four policy scenario’s; 1) No new EU action; 2) Non-legislative action at EU level or national level; 3) Legislative action at EU level and 4) Legislative action at EU level plus non-legislative measures. La Strada International and its members KOK, and PAG-Asa opted for option 2) non-legislative action at EU or national level.
The main reason for selecting this option, is that Platform members in particular observe gaps related to the implementation of the current EU Trafficking Directive. Moreover a risk is foreseen that a potential revision of the Directive will be used by EU MS to renegotiate and limit the scope of its important rights provisions and will reduce Member States’ obligations to protect and guarantee victims’ rights and service provision and or might be used as an excuse to not implement the directive. Another concern is that the main reason for the proposed legislative action seems to be the wish for mandatory rules on the criminalisation of the use of services, which are the objects of exploitation, with the knowledge that the person is a victim of trafficking, which La Strada International also opposes, as such legislative measure seems so far mainly used as a measure to address prostitution and has not resulted yet in much positive action. Moreover La Strada International is concerned that if sanctions will be imposed related to all forms of human trafficking, anyone can be held criminally liable for buying goods, products or services for everyday use, produced within the global supply chain by workers in extremely precarious and exploitative conditions.
Following the closure of the public consultation, a factual summary report is now expected to be published shortly. In addition, the Commission will carry out a targeted consultation with relevant networks of stakeholders, who will be asked to provide their views and opinions through questionnaires and/or interviews, including the EU network of National rapporteurs or equivalent mechanisms on trafficking in human beings and the EU Civil Society Platform against trafficking in human beings, of which several LSI members are member. See also earlier LSI article on the evaluation of the THB Directive
Currently the European Commission is also evaluating the EU Victims’ Rights Directive of 2012. The deadline for this public consultation will close on 25 October 2021, see more here.