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27th Feb 2024

EU staff in Amsterdam 'extremely' upset by brothel

  • Amsterdam's Red Light district attracts millions of tourists (Photo: Cédric Puisney)
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EU officials in Amsterdam are "extremely" upset by the prospect of living cheek by jowl with one of Europe's biggest brothels in future.

They spoke out one day after Amsterdam's local council confirmed that a new "Erotisch Centrum" is to be situated just 500 metres from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), in the outskirts of the city.

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The "EMA is extremely concerned about the impact of the decision on its surrounding environment as the proposed location for the Erotic Centre is in close proximity to the EMA premises," its press office told EUobserver on Wednesday (20 December).

"The concerns we expressed earlier this year still stand and we will continue to share these with the decision-makers," it said.

The EMA regulates medical products and has over 900 staff.

It also hosts a "large number of international delegates that need to enter and leave the agency's premises, often late in the evening," it said in a statement in March, when the brothel idea was already in the air.

"This will create safety, security, and nuisance issues," it said.

The brothel is to have 100 rooms where prostitutes can meet clients, as well as event-holding facilities, and is to be themed on the movie Moulin Rouge.

It is meant to help move female, male, and transgender prostitutes out of Amsterdam city centre.

Some 18 million tourists visit the city each year, many of them men who come for its Red Light district and cannabis cafes, annoying locals.

And almost half the Red Light premises — 100 out of 249 mini-brothels — are to be shut down when the Erotic Centre opens, even though local Dutch people in the EMA neighbourhood have also protested against the scheme.

The EU and world's largest brothel is in Cologne, Germany, and has space for 120 prostitutes.

Prostitution is legal in most EU countries but is only regulated in some member states — Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, and the Netherlands.

It is criminalised in different ways in Croatia, France, Lithuania, Ireland, Romania, and Sweden.

And the EMA dispute comes amid a new debate on EU legislation in the European Parliament.

German socialist MEP Maria Noichl is spearheading a campaign for EU countries to crack down on the sector, which is associated with human trafficking, and which she describes as "gender-based violence".

"Wealthy men — who have spare money to spend on fucking — meet poor women who have to fuck to survive," she told the Politico news website on Tuesday.

The EU parliament adopted a resolution in September calling for the EU-27 to adopt a "Nordic model", under which it would be illegal to buy sex, while legal to sell it.

But this passed by a thin majority — 234 votes in favour, 175 against, and 122 abstentions — amid diverging opinions on how to tackle the issue.

"An extensive body of evidence demonstrates that criminalisation of buying sex harms the rights of sex workers," the New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in September.

It harmed prostitutes because it restricted their choice of clients to more dangerous men. It also led them to meet clients in more risky, out-of-the-way places, HRW said.

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