Modern slavery risks rise in majority of EU countries
Written by staff reporter
Modern slavery risks have risen in nearly three quarters of the 28 member states of the European Union over the last year. Compared with other countries around the world, the EU fares badly in terms of the strength of laws, enforcement effectiveness, and the severity of violations over the course of the year, with the slavery situation in Romania deemed as deteriorating worse than any country globally. Along with Italy, it has some of the worst reported violations in the bloc, including severe forms of forced labour, such as servitude and trafficking.
The International Organisation for Migration estimates that over 100,000 migrants have entered Europe by sea in 2017; 85% of which have landed in Italy. Arrivals in Greece have fallen dramatically since the 2016 signing of the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement, but the country, which dropped 16 places in the index, is host to significant numbers of migrants and remains a key destination for human trafficking.
According to global risk consultancy, Verisk Maplecroft, the presence of these vulnerable migrant populations in the primary countries of arrival is a key contributor for increases in slavery across multiple sectors in the region, such as agriculture, construction and services.
According to the second edition of the Modern Slavery Index (MSI), the five EU countries posing the highest risk are Romania, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria – key entry points for migrants into the region who are extremely vulnerable to exploitation.
Due to the geographic shift in migrant sea arrivals, Verisk Maplecroft expects the risk of modern slavery to worsen in Italy over the next year, with agriculture a sector of concern.
“The migrant crisis has increased the risk of slavery incidents appearing in company supply chains across Europe,” states Sam Haynes, senior human rights analyst at Verisk Maplecroft. “It is no longer just the traditional sourcing hotspots in the emerging economies that businesses should pay attention to when risk assessing their suppliers and the commodities they source.”
Even the EU’s biggest economies are not immune to the rise in slavery risk. Germany and the UK have seen slight negative shifts in their scores, taking them just over the ‘low risk’ threshold into the ‘medium risk’ category of the index. New data has revealed gaps in the UK’s labour inspectorate, while Germany has experienced an uptick in recorded trafficking and servitude violations.