03 November 2023


On the 18th of October, the European Commission adopted an EU Roadmap to step up the fight against drug trafficking and criminal networks.  The Roadmap includes 4 priority areas: 

  1. A new European Ports Alliance which should increase the resilience of ports against criminal infiltration by reinforcing the work of customs authorities, law enforcement as well as public and private actors in ports across the EU;
  2. Dismantling high-risk criminal networks such as by facilitating financial and digital investigations, and reinforcing cooperation between specialised prosecutors and judges;
  3. Measures to prevent organized crime through exchange of best practices and guidance among Member States in order to, for example, prevent the infiltration of criminal groups in society and limit more effectively access to drug precursors;
  4. Working with international partners such as by reinforcing information exchange, by performing joint operations on the main drug trafficking routes and strengthening law enforcement and judicial cooperation with non-EU countries.

The Strategy for a new European Port Alliance includes three priority actions:

  • Mobilising the customs community against drug trafficking

Through the European Ports Alliance, and financed under the Customs Programme, the Commission will set up a framework which facilitates the effective risk management and customs controls linked to illicit drugs smuggling and to ensure the cooperation of customs authorities. 

A dedicated project group involving Member States’ customs authorities will therefore be put in place which should work towards a common understanding and coordinated approach, set out common targeting criteria and share best practices. These efforts should set the ground for establishing common risk criteria and priority customs controls at EU level. Furthermore, as from 2024, the Commission will provide more than EUR 200 million of funding for state-of-the-art equipment that will help customs authorities to scan containers and other means of transport. These funds will be made available via the Customs Control Equipment Instrument (CCEI) programme. 

  • Strengthening law enforcement operations in ports

EMPACT, the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats, will continue to be supported by the European commission. In EMPACT, there are currently two operational priorities regarding the fight against drug trafficking: cannabis, cocaine, and heroin (CCH) and synthetic drugs and psychoactive substances (SYN-NPS). In 2024-2025, the Commission will boost cooperation further by providing additional support to further integrate non-EU countries into these two priorities.  

  • A public-private partnership against drug smuggling and criminal infiltration 

It is recognized that port authorities and private shipping companies need to be aware of their role in the fight against drug trafficking and criminal infiltration. They should have the necessary tools to track containers with cameras, sensors and scanners. In addition, they should have the means to properly screen their employees to avoid attempted corruption by criminal networks.  The Commission will bring all relevant public and private actors together into a public-private partnership ie Member States, local authorities, law enforcement authorities, customs, EU agencies and private operators in the ports. The European Ports Alliance will promote best practices and due diligence.

More information can be found here.