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A containership arrives at the Port of Rotterdam

Port of Rotterdam. Shutterstock/nattanan726

European Ports Alliance: EU Launches Effort to Combat Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in Ports

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1153
January 25, 2024

The European Commission, along with various EU Member States and agencies, have launched the European Ports Alliance Public Private Partnership to combat drug trafficking and criminal infiltration in ports.

This partnership aligns with the EU Roadmap to fight Drug Trafficking and Organised Crime and President von der Leyen’s pledge to combat drug smuggling and criminal infiltration in European ports by 2024.

Recent years have seen a significant increase in cocaine seizures in the EU, with criminal networks employing violence, corruption, and intimidation to secure profits. The Port of Antwerp-Bruges in Belgium, for instance, confiscated a record 121 metric tonnes of cocaine in 2023, marking a 10% increase from the previous year.

Given that ports account for 75% of EU external trade volumes and 31% of EU internal trade volumes, they are especially vulnerable to exploitation by high-risk criminal networks. These criminals often use ports as transit points for containers bearing illicit goods, including drugs – a criminal venture that poses significant security threats to the EU.

The partnership will strengthen risk management, implement effective controls, and bolster law enforcement operations in ports. It also aims to raise awareness and support port authorities and private shipping companies in their fight against drug trafficking.

A joint declaration will follow the launch, reiterating the commitment of law enforcement, customs, and public and private operators working in ports to collectively combat the threats posed by organised crime.

The fight against organized crime and drug trafficking is a priority for the European Commission, as outlined in the EU Security Union Strategy, the EU Strategy to Tackle Organised crime, and the EU Strategy on Drugs. The European Ports Alliance forms a flagship initiative, bringing together all relevant public and private actors in the fight against drug smuggling and criminal infiltration of logistic hubs.

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