“Trafficking in human beings is the slavery of our times”: this is the conviction which has led Home Affairs CommissionerCecilia Malmström to launch a consultation between EU member states on the application of a five point plan adopted by the Commission in June, writes Corriere della Sera.

According to Brussels, profits from human trafficking within the EU amount to tens of millions of euros per year, and after drug dealing is the second largest source of revenue for criminal organisations. 76% of the victims are women, mostly recruited in Romania and Bulgaria before being forced into prostitution. And trafficking figures are on the rise, because, as Malmström explains, “the economic crisis has made the victims even more fragile”.

The Commission’s strategy aims to harmonise definitions of human trafficking, along with sentences for traffickers and procedures for assisting victims throughout the EU. The process is complicated by the existence of different cultures and norms in the union’s member states. As Corriere points out —

… in certain countries, like Commissioner Malmström’s Sweden, it is a crime to pay for sexual services (but not to sell them); in others, like the Netherlands, brothels are legal.