EU drug centre for capital

THE FUTURE headquarters of both the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the European Maritime Security Agency are to be based in Lisbon.

Lisbon Câmara President, Professor Carmona Rodrigues, and the Portuguese Secretary of State for the Sea, Dr Nuno Fernandes Thomaz, joined executive directors, the architect and the president of the project for the launch at its future site at Ribeira das Naus, Cais do Sodré, recently.

The new maritime HQ, the Agência Europeia de Segurança Marítima (AESM) and Observatório Europeu da Droga e Toxicodependência (OEDT) drug centre are due to be completed in From page 1

2006. They will form an integral part of the renovation, regeneration and urban planning of the rundown Cais do Sodré area of the city. The project will be underway around the same time as works are concluded on the new metro extension under Terreiro do Paço.

The Ribeiro das Naus project – a waterfront quayside located to the left of the Cais do Sodré station – is a joint initiative between the Portuguese government, Lisbon Câmara and the Lisbon Port Authority.

Established in 1993 and based in Santa Apolónia, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction is the hub of drug-related information in the EU. Its role is to gather, analyse and disseminate ‘objective, reliable and comparable information’ on drugs and drug addiction’. In so doing, it aims to provide governments, health groups and academics with a sound, evidence-based picture of the drug phenomenon at a European level.

Portugal, with its long, exposed, coastline and proximity to Northern Africa, has one of the worst levels of illegal drug trafficking in the EU, which is difficult for police and customs to effectively control.

The centre obtains information primarily from the Reitox Network – a group of focal points in each of the 15 EU Member States and Norway – which is passed on to governments and other interested groups, as well as the European Commission. But, while both agencies are primarily Europe-focused, it has increasing ties with countries further afield, forging links with organisations in other parts of the world.

Its more specific aims are to prevent children and young people from initiating drug abuse, prevent the transition from experimental use to addiction and to reduce drug-related deaths and health problems such as HIV and Hepatitis. The OEDT also aims to reduce drug offences inside prisons, treat and integrate drug users, and prevent money laundering and drug trafficking.

The new 4,000sqm building is designed by Lisbon architect Manuel Tainha and will reflect the increased number of staff needed to man the two centres because of EU enlargement. Both entities will be situated on the site formerly used by the Lisbon Port Authority (APL) and will incorporate a 240-space car park and gardens on a site totalling three hectares.

Dr. Nuno Fernandes Thomaz praised the project saying: “It will be capable of accommodating 200 employees, and has excellent access to Portela airport, as well as Lisbon’s main residential and suburban areas.” Prof. Carmona added: “This project is of paramount importance for the health, wellbeing and security of the EU population, as much as it benefits Lisbon. The project also serves to regenerate what has become a run-down area as part of an overall project which will provide employment and serve to upgrade the area.”

Part of the Cais do Sodré/Terreiro do Paço re-development plan involves constructing a new quayside home for the historic royal sailing yacht museum, the ‘Fernando II e Glória’, which will be moved from the present site at Lisbon port.

“As a maritime nation, Portugal attaches great significance to all ocean affairs and in particular to matters as important as maritime security and safety, the subjects of these agencies responsibilities,” commented Dr Fernando Thomaz. “With this decision for Ribeiro das Naus, we are able to present today an excellent project.”