“The vast majority of illicit drugs into the EU are trafficked along maritime route. 70% of drug seizures are in EU Ports. That is why cooperation between National & EU Authorities and EU Ports is vital. Organised Crime is adept at moving from one port to another, as opportunities rise and fall. To challenge this network we must build a network. The violent consequences of drug trafficking are as big as the threat of terrorism. This is why I am encouraged to see this EU Port Alliance launched today.” Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Home Affairs
On 24 January 2024 the European Commission launched the European Ports Alliance to fight organised crime and drug trafficking.
The purpose is to propose solutions to protect ports from drug trafficking and criminal infiltration, based on the EU Roadmap to fight Drug Trafficking and Organised Crime aligned with President von der Leyen’s commitment to take action in 2024 to fight drugs smuggling and criminal infiltration into European ports.
Indeed, seizures of cocaine in the EU are at record levels, with more than 300 tonnes seized on an annual basis in recent years. In Belgium alone, authorities seized a record 121 metric tonnes of cocaine at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges in 2023, a 10% increase from the previous year.
“The European Ports Alliance aims at:
1.Mobilising the customs community against drugs trafficking to strengthen risk management and more targeted and effective controls in ports, to account for the fact that 70% of drugs seizures made by customs take place in ports;
2.Strengthening law enforcement operations in ports and against the criminal organisations orchestrating drugs trafficking with support from Europol, Eurojust, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and through dedicated actions within the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats; and
3.Setting up a Public Private Partnership helping against drugs smuggling to raise awareness among the different actors but also to support port authorities and private shipping companies in their role in the fight against drug trafficking and criminal infiltration.
This public private partnership will strengthen the resilience of ports and step up the fight against drug trafficking and criminal infiltration. It will focus on identifying vulnerabilities, sharing best practices and finding practical solutions to strengthen port security. It will address intimidation, corruption and criminal infiltration in ports, through the implementation of international and EU security standards and cooperation between law enforcement and customs with public and private operators working in the ports.”
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