EU forms port alliance to fight drug trafficking

International |  IANS  | Published :

Brussels, Jan 25 (IANS) The European Commission has launched the European Ports Alliance Public Private Partnership, aimed at bringing all stakeholders together to protect ports from drug trafficking and criminal infiltration.

The alliance was being launched in conjunction with the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), member states, ports authorities, European associations, EU anti-crime agencies, customs and law enforcement authorities, Xinhua news agency reported.

The vast majority of illicit drugs into the EU are trafficked along maritime routes and 70 per cent of drug seizures are in EU ports, according to Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Home Affairs. "That is why cooperation between national and EU authorities and EU ports is vital," Johansson said in a press release on Wednesday.

The Commission said the launch comes against a backdrop of "criminal networks using extreme violence, corruption and intimidation in their search for profits." Seizures of cocaine in the EU are at record levels, with more than 300 tonnes seized on an annual basis in recent years, said the Commission.

In Belgium alone, authorities seized a record 121 tonnes of cocaine at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges in 2023, a 10 per cent increase over the previous year.

EU figures show that ports contribute to 75 per cent of EU external trade volumes and 31 per cent of EU internal trade volumes, making them vulnerable to drug smuggling and exploitation by high-risk criminal networks.

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