Organised Crime and Human Trafficking

Organised criminal networks often operate across borders and are involved in different types of criminal activities. These include trafficking in human beings, drugs, illicit goods and weapons, counterfeiting and money laundering.

Human trafficking is a particularly serious form of organised crime affecting the most vulnerable citizens. It is linked to the establishment of control over a person via coercive or fraudulent means for the purpose of sexual or labour exploitation of the trafficked person, hence constituting a grave violation of human rights. Organised crime represents a threat to European citizens, businesses as well as state institutions and it is estimated that it costs the European economy alone around EUR 110 billion yearly. Comprehensive actions at the EU and national levels are essential to tackle the continuously evolving challenges related to the fight against organised crime.

Milieu has been working on a variety of projects in this area, supporting the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Fundamental Rights Agency. Some highlights of our projects in this area include:


It is estimated that money laundering, which can often be tied to terrorist financing, accounts for between 2 and 5% of global GDP each year. Many countries have developed legislation to address this issue. The EU stands out as having one of the strongest anti-money laundering standards in the world. The 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) (Directive (EU) 2015/849) came into force in 2015, replacing the 3rd AMLD from 2005. The 4th AMLD implements stricter requirements in an effort to better combat money laundering and terrorism financing in the EU. Along with this Directive, is the Fund Transfer Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2015/847), which aims to ensure payments are fully traceable.

DG JUST entrusted Milieu to carry out a compliance assessment of this Directive and the Fund Transfer Regulation in all 28 Member States to ensure proper implementation in national legal frameworks.

The trafficking of human beings is a crime that deprives an individual of his or her fundamental rights and dignity, by treating and trading a person as a commodity for sheer economic gain. Human trafficking can serve several purposes, including forced labour exploitation. At the time of this study, trafficking for forced labour exploitation equated to nearly 20% of all registered victims of trafficking.

Milieu carried out an analysis of Member States’ case law on the trafficking of human beings (THB) which focused on forced labour exploitation and provided an insight into Member States’ practices in this area. It also contributed to the identification of barriers to successful prosecution and best practices. The research and analysis mapped the trends, practice, police and judicial architecture, and the legal situation in EU Member States in order to clarify some of the issues pertaining to this complex crime. The analysis also provided an indication of how national legislation transposed the EU Anti-trafficking Directive (Directive 2011/36/EU). Ultimately, the work created clarity, exchanged knowledge, and more broadly, sought to increase the number of investigated and prosecuted cases on THB for forced labour.

The final report can be found here.