Photograph: (Kriss) Szkurlatowski

The European Union's spending on projects to fight sex trafficking is not in line with the dimension of the problem, according to a policy review released on Monday by the European Commission.

Of the nearly 16,000 known victims of trafficking in 2013 and 2014 in the EU, two thirds were trafficked for sexual exploitation, while a fifth were trafficked for forced labour, according to the latest available EU data.

However, only 7 per cent of the EU's anti-trafficking funding between 2004 and 2015 was earmarked specifically for sexual exploitation, while 14 per cent went to projects against labour exploitation, according to the policy review.

The Commission, the EU executive, paid a total of 158.5 million euros (174 million dollars) to fund relevant projects by international organizations, non-governmental groups and governments during this period.

More than half of this sum was spent on initiatives that address trafficking in general, rather than its specific forms.

The EU should focus more on preventing "sexual exploitation, which is rarely the focus of the current funded projects on prevention," said the report, which was prepared by Lancaster University on behalf of the EU Commission.

The EU's Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou acknowledged in Vienna that "a lot has been achieved, a lot of efforts have been initiated, but a lot remains to be done."

The EU should also look more deeply into who pockets the 23.8 billion euros of annual profits of those who engage in sexual exploitation in Europe, she said.

"We must crack down on the traffickers and target the profits," she said.

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