Fight against drug trafficking and organised crime

7 March 2024, during the meeting of the 65th Trade Contact Group, the members of the group presented several developments and raised critical issues. The TCG provides a platform for regular consultations at Union level on the development and implementation of customs related issues and developments of customs policy.

The topics discussed during the last meeting included the application of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), the release of guidance document for importers and exporters in several languages, and a growing concern regarding a booming drug trade in Europe.

The latter was revealed by the report of the European law enforcement agencies. The report highlights the growing concern about young people being drawn into the drug trade valued at €30 billion annually and fueling record violence. Cocaine and cannabis are linked to most of the trouble, with children getting involved in gangs and even killings. Gangs are recruiting adolescents for tasks like drug sales or lookout, leading to disturbing situations like children using Kalashnikovs.

The response to the issue is divided. Some propose alternative policies like government control or legalisation, while others focus on traditional methods like increased port security and international cooperation. European countries are also working with South American nations to tackle the problem. However, South American countries point the finger back at Europe, highlighting the high cocaine consumption rates in cities like Brussels and Amsterdam. This suggests that tackling both supply and demand is crucial for addressing the drug trade and its violent consequences.

24 January 2024, the Commission, together with the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, launched the European Ports Alliance and its Public-Private Partnership to step up the fight against drug trafficking and organised crime. This partnership aims to bring all relevant stakeholders together, to form solutions to protect ports.

The European Ports Alliance aims to strengthen security in all EU ports:

  • with 200 million EUR to fund modern equipment which will help EU Customs officials scan containers and check imports more efficiently;
  • through the specific and efficient law enforcement operations in ports with increased cooperation between the Member States, the European Commission, Europol, Eurojust, European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO) and the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT);
  • via the Public-Private Partnership which will support port authorities and shipping companies, to protect logistics, information, staff, and processes in ports.

For more information, please see here.