BBC News reports that over 200 women’s rights groups have called for legislation to make paying for sex a crime across the entire EU.
Campaigners presented key policy recommendations for legislation to MEPs in Brussels yesterday.
"Prostitution is a form of violence, an obstacle to gender equality and an open door for organised crime to develop," a campaign spokesperson said.
According to the broadcaster, the European women’s lobby (EWL), which leads the campaign, wants EU member states to implement six key policies, including the criminalisation of all forms of procuring, and the creation of effective exit programmes for sex workers.
"The most important thing to understand about prostitution is that imposing sexual intercourse with money is a form of violence that shouldn’t be accepted," EWL spokesperson Pierrette Pape said.
However, critics argue that criminalising prostitution drives the industry underground and increases the risk of rape and violence against women.
The UK network of sex work projects believes the move would have damaging consequences for prostitutes.
"It creates a legal and policy climate, in which sex workers are more stigmatised and socially excluded, and in which it is harder to offer accessible support services," a spokesperson for the organisation said.