European Ports Alliance hopes to reduce drug smuggling and crime in ports
The European Ports Alliance was launched at Antwerp's Havenhuis on Wednesday. The new public-private partnership primarily aims to curb international drug crime and infiltration in European ports.
Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) invited members from 16 ports, including Varna (Bulgaria), Algeciras (Spain), Gdansk (Poland) and Gothenburg (Sweden). Organisations such as Aquapol and shipping and terminal associations ECSA and FEPORT were also present.
The European Port Alliance will support customs authorities and law enforcement agencies with advanced scanners or other equipment. The alliance will promote further standardisation and information exchange between European member states and private players to ensure seizures or container handling, for example, can be better coordinated.
"A structure is being set up in which all actors involved will cooperate in the fight against international drug crime," a joint statement reads. "Criminals know no borders, so police and control services must also be able to operate across borders in their fight. In addition, port operators and private companies can play an important role."
European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, like Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA), previously paid a working visit to South American ports. "The young people who are being enlisted in the drug trade are getting younger and younger," Johannson said. "The drug trade is a huge threat to our democracy. To fight a network, you need another network."
© BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS