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Amsterdam mega-brothel plans rile EU vaccines watchdog

Amsterdam mega-brothel plans rile EU vaccines watchdog

Wednesday, March 08, 2023, 09:34 GMT+7
Amsterdam mega-brothel plans rile EU vaccines watchdog

It's survived the Covid pandemic but now the European Union's vaccines watchdog has a new worry: plans for a giant "erotic centre" near its Amsterdam headquarters.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which moved to the Dutch capital from London in 2019 due to Brexit, said Tuesday it was "extremely concerned" by Amsterdam city council's proposal.

Amsterdam wants to move legal prostitution outside the city centre's famed red light district over complaints from residents about crime and often rowdy behaviour.

"EMA is very concerned that this will create safety, security and nuisance issues" for staff and for visiting delegates, who often have to leave late in the evening, the regulator said in a statement.

"The change of the location of the red light district is motivated by concerns of nuisance, drug-dealing, drunkenness and disorderly behaviour," it added.

"Locating the Erotic Centre in close proximity to EMA's building is likely to bring the same negative impacts to the adjacent area."

Two of three proposed locations for the huge new brothel are near the EMA's purpose-built headquarters in a business district on the southern outskirts of Amsterdam.

The EMA said it would now work with the European Commission in Brussels, the EU's executive arm, to take the case to the "highest appropriate political and diplomatic level to ensure a safe working environment".

The watchdog added that it had only learned of the proposals through local media and "would have expected to be consulted".

Fears of staff

Amsterdam city council said the EMA would "under no circumstances" be neighbours with the new erotic centre.

There was "at least half a kilometre (one third of a mile) between the EMA and the locations" under consideration, a council spokesman said.

Police also believed  safety risks were few, particularly as the brothel would be indoors "without an audience on the street like in the red light district", the spokesman added.

The planned erotic centre will have 100 spaces for sex workers, complete with areas for work breaks and other hospitality outlets, under the council's proposals.

But the EMA said its operations could be affected.

The once-low-profile agency played a key role during the coronavirus pandemic, approving vaccines as the disease swept the globe and then dealing with concerns about possible side-effects.

"EMA's work is essential for the protection of public health in the EU, and this should not be jeopardised by fears of staff and EU experts coming to EMA's building," it said.

Amsterdam eventually plans to shut down the centuries-old district, or De Wallen, which is known for the neon-lit windows in which sex workers stand to attract customers.

Local residents have long complained about the quality of life in the area, which draws huge crowds of tourists. In February the city said it would ban cannabis smoking in the district.



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