EU Parliament Designates Surrogacy as Human Trafficking

6 October 2023

Surrogacy could soon be classified as a form of human trafficking by the EU.

At its meeting on October 5th, the EU parliament’s joint committee on women’s rights and civil liberties added surrogacy to the list of crimes targeted by the bloc’s directive on preventing human trafficking.

The directive, put in place in 2011, is being revised at a crucial moment when parallel legislation on rules recognizing parentage risks facilitating surrogacy within Europe.

Most EU member states have bans on surrogacy in place, but several do permit altruistic surrogacy or simply have not regulated it. On the edges of the EU though, in countries from Ukraine to Georgia, a booming commercial surrogacy industry exists whose clients often come from within the EU. Additionally, Ukraine, well-known for its surrogacy industry, is seeking fast-track entry into the EU.   

“By classifying surrogacy as a form of human trafficking, the European Union takes a substantial step toward preventing the exploitation of women’s bodies and the commodification of children,” the European citizen’s initiative One of Us said in a statement. “This marks a significant stride in effectively safeguarding the most vulnerable and actively combating the commodification of human bodies.”

“This decision means that the weakest will be more protected in the European territory and the unborn are closer to being considered as one of us by the EU institutions,” One of Us president Marina Casini added.

She expressed her hope for the comprehensive inclusion of surrogacy in the directive. The amendment did not distinguish between surrogacy arrangements where the surrogate mother is financially compensated and those where she is not offered a financial incentive, meaning all forms of surrogacy would be designated as exploitative.

French MEP François-Xavier Bellamy with the EPP celebrated the approval of the amendment he had brought to the table as a complete ban on surrogacy within the block.

“Nice victory this morning: the proposal that I tabled, with the support of several colleagues, to ban [surrogacy] across the European Union, was adopted by a majority of votes, both right and left, he posted on X. “An essential step for the dignity of the most vulnerable.”


The position on surrogacy was overwhelmingly endorsed by MEPS with 69 votes in favor and 22 abstentions. No one opposed it.

The parliament committee also approved amendments to include the illegal adoption of children from group homes as a form of human trafficking and to ensure that victims of trafficking are not prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit. It is common for victims of sex trafficking to also be forced to commit other crimes such as robbery. 

The committee’s draft negotiating position still has to be approved by the parliament’s plenary before the directive enters trialogue negotiations, but the wide acceptance from the Left and the Right to recognize surrogacy as a form of human trafficking is promising.