There have been a number of developments at EU level which have impacted on Ireland’s response to the crime of human trafficking and the protection of victims. 

In April 2011 EU Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting human beings was adopted. The Directive takes a victim centred approach, including a gender perspective, to cover actions in different areas such as criminal law provisions, prosecutions of offenders, victim support and victim rights in criminal proceedings, prevention, and monitoring of the implementation. 

The provisions of the Directive were fully transposed in Ireland by way of legislation including:

Based on Article 20 of the Directive, the EU Anti-trafficking Coordinator ensures coherence and coordination in the area of trafficking of human beings and oversees the implementation of the EU legal and policy framework addressing trafficking in human beings. 

The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016 identified five priorities for the EU to focus on in order to address the issue of trafficking in human beings. These priorities were identifying, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking; stepping up prevention of trafficking; increased prosecution of traffickers; enhanced coordination and cooperation among key actors and policy coherence; and increased knowledge of and effective response to emerging concerns related to all forms of trafficking in human beings. The 2012-2016 Strategy provided a coherent basis and direction for the EU policy in the area of trafficking in human beings.

On 4 December 2017, the European Commission adopted a new communication for addressing trafficking in human beings and committed to a new set of priorities to be implemented in the coming period. Building on the EU strategy and in light of recent migratory, economic and security challenges, the priorities set out by the Commission identify key areas that require immediate action from the EU and Member States to disrupt the modus operandi of traffickers, strengthen victims’ rights and intensify EU internal and external efforts to provide a coordinated and consistent response.