Belgian Interior Minister visits EMCDDA for talks on public safety and security

Belgian Minister of the Interior, Institutional Reform and Democratic Renewal, Ms Annelies Verlinden, visited the EMCDDA this week during an official visit to Portugal. The Minister met EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel who presented the work of the agency and its upcoming change of mandate. The focus of the visit was on public safety and security.

Minister Verlinden was accompanied by a delegation of Belgian dignitaries, including H.E. Serge Wauthier, Ambassador of Belgium to Portugal.

During the meeting on 12 December, EMCDDA experts briefed the Minister on the work of the agency in the area of security and drug markets, citing findings from the European Drug Report 2022 and the latest EMCDDA-Europol EU Drug Markets: In-depth analysis. Drug-related security issues have been high on the political agenda in Belgium recently.

The recent EMCDDA-Europol analysis describes how smuggling methods, particularly in seaports, have led to an increase in violence directed at port workers and officials. Data on cocaine seizures in Belgium indicate that almost 92 tonnes of cocaine were seized in 2021, almost all in the port of Antwerp.

The meeting also explored drug policy developments in the EU and perspectives for the future Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (January–June 2024).

Belgium contributes data to the EMCDDA, among others, via the Reitox network of national focal points (NFPs). The NFP in Belgium is located within the Epidemiology and Public health division at Sciensano, the Belgian Health research Institute. Sciensano implements policies in response to the legal framework and the priorities of the Federal Minister for Health and the President of the Federal Public Service for Health, Food Chain Security and the Environment. The institute is the scientific reference in the field of public health and supports health policy and policymaking through innovative research, analyses, monitoring activities and expert advice. In addition to Reitox collaboration, the EMCDDA works closely with Belgian law enforcement bodies and drug laboratories.

(European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction)