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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 18 March 2013

The EU steps up its response to fight money laundering and drug trafficking in West Africa

The European Union has launched a new project which will contribute to the fight against money laundering in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Cape Verde. The project will help law enforcement agencies to better investigate money laundering, and thereby fight organized crime. At the same time, it will increase regional cooperation among these countries which are part of the "Cocaine route", i.e. the route used by South American drug cartels to ship drugs into Europe.

Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development said: "Drug trafficking is an international plague which needs to be addressed globally. This illegal trade provokes severe economic, social, political and public health consequences. In the European Union alone, 140 tonnes of cocaine are consumed each year. In affected West African countries, the massive money laundering, generated by these illegal profits, destabilizes whole economies, threatening both their development and their stability."

He added: "With this new project, we will provide training, technical support - to establish electronic databases or secure email for instance – to law enforcement agencies and foster cross-border exchanges among the public authorities."


The Anti-money laundering project is worth €1.8 million and is funded under the Instrument for Stability and part of the "Cocaine Route Programme". The aim of the programme is to enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement and judicial services of the partner countries in the fight against international criminal networks, while fully respecting human rights. The Cocaine Route Programme started in 2009 and is trans-regional, with activities covering 36 countries, of which half are in Africa (mainly West-Africa), five are in the Caribbean and the rest are in Latin and Central America. Since the start more than €23 million have been allocated to these activities.

It is particularly challenging to counter organised crime and investigate money laundering activities in West Africa. At present, the region suffers from a lack of regulation of the non-financial sector, which plays an important role in the laundering of funds in cash based economies. There is also currently insufficient cooperation between the countries in the region, which is crucial to counter cross-border threats such as organised crime. In addition the law enforcement agencies often lack capacity and access to information.

The Instrument for Stability

The Instrument for Stability (IfS) is a strategic tool that links security and development. The main objective is to support measures aimed at safeguarding or re-establishing the conditions under which the partner countries of the EU can pursue their long term development goals.

The Instrument complements existing EU geographic and thematic instruments and policies, Common Foreign and Security Policy actions, regional and international organisations and bilateral programmes carried out by EU Member States. The Instrument brings added value as it fills gaps where geographical or other development instruments cannot be used; and can be used to address trans-regional threats to security, which cannot be done through traditional development instruments. Since 2007 the EU has supported a number of projects to counter trans-regional organised crime and terrorism under the IfS.

For more information

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

Website of the Instrument for Stability:

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

Website of the Cocaine Route Programme:

Website of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)

Contacts :

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)

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