Category Archives: Combating drugs

Well-being, social cohesion and security are all objectives which guide the action taken by the European Union in combating drugs. In this context, the EU’s action focuses mainly on reducing supply and demand, which links up with both the fight against organised crime and a high level of health protection. The main components are: greater coordination between the competent services in the EU; harmonisation in the field of infringements and penalties; and effective international cooperation. To this end, bodies such as the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and instruments such as the financial strategies and programmes complete the policy framework to combat drugs effectively and to achieve all these defined objectives.

The role of civil society in drugs policy in the European Union

The role of civil society in drugs policy in the European Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The role of civil society in drugs policy in the European Union

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

The role of civil society in drugs policy in the European Union

Document or Iniciative

Commission Green Paper of 26 June 2006 on the role of civil society in drugs policy in the European Union [COM(2006) 316 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

In its fight against drugs, the EU has decided to consult civil society. The experience gained on the ground by these associations, particularly in helping the victims of this scourge, constitutes a major asset for the Commission, which wants to strengthen the networks of civil society, take account of their recommendations and gather together innovative practice on the ground.

The concept of “civil society”

There is no commonly accepted definition of the concept of “civil society”. The Commission has often used this term to refer to organisations representing both social and economic stakeholders. However, a more precise definition has been used for the purposes of this green paper. Civil society is the associational life operating in the space between the state and market, including individual participation, and the activities of non-governmental, voluntary and Community organisations. The aims of involving civil society are to support policy formulation and implementation through practical advice, to ensure an effective two-way information flow and to stimulate networking among the various organisations.

This growing involvement of civil society is a part of the development of European governance and the wish to bring Europe closer to citizens. Since 1992, relations between the EU and civil society have had two guiding principles: diversity of dialogue and equal treatment.

The legal framework of the fight against drugs

The Treaty establishing the European Community created a legal framework which constitutes a valuable tool in the fight against drugs on essential points such as the following:

  • money laundering: Directive on the prevention of money laundering in the financial system;
  • the protection of public health: a Council Recommendation on the prevention and reduction of health related harm associated with drug dependence;
  • control: a Regulation on drug precursors;
  • cooperation: a Council Decision on new psychoactive substances.

The EU has also established a European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) which is a Community agency established within the framework provided by the EC Treaty.

Civil society stakeholders in the drugs field

In this green paper, the Commission proposes that the dialogue between the EU and a vast range of organisations active in the fight against drugs be structured and placed on a more durable basis. The Commission therefore wishes to act in harmony with the associations that implement at local level the actions set out in the EU Action Plan on Drugs, especially in achieving the objectives on drug prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug users. These organisations and other types of voluntary groups are also often good at developing innovative approaches based on a realistic picture of what is needed.

The Commission must respond to two considerations: it must take account of the diversity of these associations, which are often subdivided along philosophical, scientific and moral lines, on the one hand, and it must ensure that there is effective and organised debate, on the other. The Commission also stresses the valuable contribution of associations which do not directly fight drugs, such as those connected with HIV/AIDS.

The way forward: different options

The Commission proposes two options for organising the dialogue with civil society.

Firstly, a civil society forum on drugs: this wording implies the creation of a broad platform, chaired by the Commission, with a limited number of participants in order for the dialogue to be kept structured and operational. The object is not to create a civil society assembly as a platform for various ideologies but to create a practical instrument to support policy formulation and implementation through practical advice. This forum would not be a formal structure within the Commission. Additionally, it will supplement the existing debate between the governments of Member States and the associations of civil society; the focus will therefore be on European added value. The selection criteria for taking part in this forum are as follows:

  • the organisation has to correspond to the concept of civil society, in other words the associational life operating in the space between the state and the market;
  • the organisation has to operate in an EU Member State or a candidate country. Organisations from European neighbourhood policy countries may also participate, when appropriate;
  • priority will be given to associations which are transnational or in the form of networks in a number of Member States;
  • the organisation has to focus mainly on the fight against drugs, it must have a track record and it must be representative.

There must then be a thematic linking of existing networks. The purpose is to give the Commission technical assistance on issues requiring specific experience or expertise on the basis of the successful model for the treatment of drug addiction.

Background

The harmful consequences of drugs for health and society, as well as drug-related crime, are seen by public opinion as a major concern. Since the 1990s, a European model based on a balanced and integrated approach to drugs has been developed. In the context of the implementation of the EU strategy on drugs for the period 2005-2012 and the 2005-2008 action plan, it is essential that European policy on this matter should still be inspired by the ideas and the experience of the many organisations of civil society which are active in this field.

Stronger control measures for the synthetic drug BZP

Stronger control measures for the synthetic drug BZP

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Stronger control measures for the synthetic drug BZP

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Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

Stronger control measures for the synthetic drug BZP

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2008/206/JHA of 3 March 2008 on defining 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP) as a new psychoactive substance which is to be made subject to control measures and criminal provisions.

Summary

BZP (1-Benzylpiperazine) is a new psychoactive substance that acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system. It a purely recreational drug, with no established or recognised medical value, which is sold over the Internet and at ‘herbalists’ and ‘smart shops’.

The risks associated with the ingestion of this substance are still little known. That is why the Commission asked the Council – on the basis of a joint European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction EMCDDA / Europol report – to measure its health and social risks via a risk assessment based on Council Decision 2005/387/JHA on the information exchange, risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances.

The BZP risk assessment exercise produced the following results: 13 Member States and Norway have reported seizures of BZP in quantities from 1 to 64 900 tablets. There is no evidence of an organised crime link.

BZP is a psychoactive substance. The risks associated with its use may include:

  • increased heart rate;
  • raised blood pressure;
  • restlessness and hyperactivity.

It may also have secondary effects, in the ‘down’ phase, that can last for up to 24 hours after the drug was taken. These can include:

  • vomiting and nausea;
  • headache and stomach ache;
  • loss of appetite;
  • anxiety and insomnia;
  • mood swings and irritability;
  • strange thoughts;
  • confusion;
  • palpitations and trembling.

The effects of using BZP are still largely unproven. Although clinical reports tend to establish a link between BZP and seizures, this conclusion is based on a very small number of cases, in which moreover the BZP was detected in post mortem specimens and its role in the death could not be determined since other factors were involved.

The risk assessment report reveals the lack of conclusive scientific proof establishing the global risks of this new substance. To be on the safe side, however, given that it does represent a health risk, it would be wise to make it subject to control and to take appropriate measures.

Final provisions

The Member States are required to make BZP subject to the control measures and criminal penalties provided under their national laws in accordance with the obligations imposed by the 1971 United Nations Convention on psychotropic substances.

Background

A number of initiatives have already been taken. The EMCDDA risk assessment concluded that the use of BZP can result in health problems whose long-term effects are still unknown. Based on this finding, the Commission wants to have BZP made subject to control measures, as provided by the UN Convention on psychotropic substances. This proposal also takes account of the data that have been collected as a result of the new psychoactive substances risk assessment procedure.

Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 provides for a three-step procedure for placing this type of substance under control. The first step is to draw up a report collating all available information on BZP. This assessment was carried out by the EMCDDA and Europol before being submitted to the Council on 22 February 2007. The Council responded by asking for a more extensive study of the risks associated with BZP, to be conducted by:

  • the extended scientific committee of the EMCDDA;
  • the Commission;
  • Europol;
  • the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2008/206/JHA 8.3.2008 OJ L 63 of 7.3.2008

Related Acts

Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on the information exchange, risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances [Official Journal L 127 of 20.5.2005].

'Drug prevention and information' programme

‘Drug prevention and information’ programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about ‘Drug prevention and information’ programme

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Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

‘Drug prevention and information’ programme (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

Decision 1150/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 September establishing for the period 2007-2013 the specific programme ‘Drug prevention and information’ as part of the General Programme ‘Fundamental Rights and Justice’.

Summary

The death rate from drug addiction in Europe is very high. It is essential to measure the immediate and long-term consequences of drug use on health and social and psychological development, and the equality of the chances of the individuals concerned.

The ‘Drug prevention and information’ programme set up by the European Union has three objectives. Specifically to:

  • prevent and reduce drug use, drug addiction and the associated inherent risks;
  • improve information about drug use;
  • support the implementation of the EU Drugs Strategy.

To this end, the programme supports transnational actions aimed at:

  • creating multi-disciplinary networks;
  • ensuring the expansion of the knowledge base, as well as the exchange of information and good practices;
  • raising awareness of the health and social problems caused by drug use;
  • preventing drug use.

Scope

The actions financed by this programme are:

  • the actions implemented by the Commission (research, surveys, conferences, campaigns, public events, analysis, Internet sites, etc.);
  • transnational projects of European interest presented by Member States or by candidate countries for membership of the EU;
  • the activities of non-governmental organisations and other bodies pursuing aims of general European interest.

The actions developed under this programme are open to public or private bodies, active in terms of preventing, or providing information, on drug use.

The programme is targeted at all groups implicated in drug use, but most particularly at ‘at risk groups’ such as young people, women, vulnerable groups and people living in socially disadvantaged areas.

Other targeted groups include educational staff, parents, teachers, social workers, local and national authorities, medical and paramedical personnel, judicial staff, law enforcement and penitentiary authorities, non-governmental organisations, trade unions and religious communities.

Financing

The programme has a budget for 2007-2013 of EUR 21.35 million. Grants are awarded by the Commission following calls for proposals, taking into account:

  • the conformity of the proposed action with the annual work programme;
  • the consistency of the expected results with the programme objectives;
  • the sum asked for and whether it is appropriate to the expected results;
  • the geographical and social impact of the action and its likely effect on the public;
  • citizen involvement in the organisation of the bodies concerned.

Context

The EU has launched a number of initiatives in its fight against drugs. In addition to the EU Drugs Strategy for the period 2005-2012, an Action Plan was adopted in order to translate the strategy into concrete actions.

The ‘Drug prevention and information’ programme forms part of the general programme ‘Fundamental Rights and Justice’ 2007-2013 aimed at promoting freedom, security and justice in the EU. The latter also includes the Criminal Justice, Civil Justice, and Fundamental Rights and Citizenship specific programmes, and the Daphne III programme on combating violence.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 1150/2007/EC

23.10.2007

OJ L 257, 3.10.2007

Related Acts

Report on the interim evaluation of the specific Programme ‘Drug prevention and information’ for the period 2007-2013 [COM(2011) 246 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The evaluation of the programme shows that it has recorded good results during the first three years of implementation and that several objectives have been achieved. The Commission regrets, however, the insufficient budget it has at its disposal and which prevents the programme from having a real effect at European level. It therefore proposes to increase the financial resources of the programme, and also to prioritise projects with a European dimension, to simplify the administrative procedures and to improve the dissemination of the results obtained.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

The EU drugs action plan

The EU drugs action plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The EU drugs action plan

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Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

The EU drugs action plan (2005-08)

In order to counter the drugs problem from the standpoint of both health protection and enforcement, the action plan provides all the European bodies concerned with guiding principles to help them fix their priorities in this area. The guidelines are based on five specific actions: coordination, reduction in demand, reduction in supply, international cooperation and information, research and assessment.

Document or Iniciative

EU Drugs Action Plan (2005-2008) of 8 July 2005 [Official Journal C 168 of 8.7.2005].

Summary

This action plan provides a consistent framework at European Union (EU) level for the adoption of enforcement and preventive measures aimed at reducing the supply of and demand for drugs. Its ultimate aim is to significantly reduce the prevalence of drug use among the population as well as to lessen the social harm and damage to health caused by the use of and trade in illicit drugs.

The action plan follows the structure and the objectives of the EU drugs strategy 2005-12, and seeks concrete results in specific priority areas.

For each objective, the Commission sets out the action(s) proposed, the corresponding timetable, the responsible authority, as well as the assessment tool or appropriate indicator. About eighty such actions are provided for.

The actions are based on five priorities:

  • coordination of anti-drugs policy at EU level;
  • demand reduction;
  • supply reduction;
  • international cooperation;
  • information and research on drugs, and evaluation of the actions undertaken.

Coordination

The action plan stresses the importance of effective coordination at Community and national levels. In particular, it provides for the adoption of national programmes conforming to the EU strategy and action plans, the appointing of a drugs coordinator within each Member State and the Commission and more involvement by civil society.

Furthermore, the action plan appoints the Horizontal Drugs Group (HDG) as the leading forum in the Council for coordination on drugs and recommends the systematic mainstreaming of drugs policy into relations and agreements with relevant countries.

Demand reduction

The Member States and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) must, in particular, extend the scope of drug demand reduction programmes, assess them and disseminate the best practices assessed.

Furthermore, Member States must improve access to prevention programmes in schools and make them more effective. They must also improve prevention methods and the detection of risk factors in certain target groups, especially young people, as well as the dissemination of these data to the professionals in order to implement early intervention programmes.

Member States should also ensure that targeted treatment, re-education and social reintegration programmes that incorporate tested psychosocial and pharmacological strategies are available and accessible and include drug addicts not reached by existing services, with particular attention being paid to specialised services for young people.

The plan also recommends developing further alternatives to imprisonment for addicts and the setting-up of prevention, treatment and reintegration services for prisoners.

As regards the health of drug users, a Commission report on the implementation of Council Recommendation 2003/488/EC concerning the prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug dependence is to be submitted by 2006 at the latest. Member States must also improve access to harm reduction services and treatment, and also set up programmes preventing the propagation of the AIDS virus, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases. They should also endeavour to reduce the number of drug-related deaths.

Supply reduction

Reducing supply means improving training for professionals and strengthening police cooperation between Member States and, where appropriate, with Europol, Eurojust and third countries. Achieving this aim will entail:

  • implementing operational enforcement programmes (joint investigation teams, etc.) and joint intelligence projects;
  • maximum use of the operational and strategic potential of Europol by improving the regularity with which relevant information is sent to the agency and made available to the Member States;
  • strengthening controls on the EU’s external borders;
  • specific measures to deal with the cross-border trade in drugs.

The action plan also contains measures to reduce the production of heroin, cocaine, cannabis and synthetic drugs, as well as trade in them, in particular by implementing operational joint programmes, collecting intelligence on third countries involved in the manufacturing and trading of such drugs, sharing best practice and exchanging information. Measures will also be adopted to combat the diversion and smuggling of drug precursors, such as the implementation of projects like the European joint unit on precursors.

The action plan also covers activities connected with the supply of drugs, chiefly in the form of measures targeted at money laundering and the seizure and re-use of financial products connected with drugs, in particular through exchanges of information and best practices. Similarly, certain measures are aimed at highlighting the links between drug trafficking and the financing of terrorism, as well as at collecting data on the use of information technologies in drug-related criminal activities.

International cooperation

The action plan aims to improve the coordination, effectiveness and visibility of EU action in international organisations and forums such as the United Nations, in particular by presenting joint positions and promoting its drugs strategy.

In addition, particular efforts must be made to improve assistance given to applicant countries, potential applicant countries or countries affected by the neighbourhood policy, in order to implement the acquis in this area or take the necessary action. Such efforts include technical assistance and the signing of appropriate agreements with the countries concerned.

Furthermore, whilst continuing its political commitment and cooperation with regard to third countries concerned by the drugs problem, the EU must intensify its efforts at enforcement, focussing in particular on producer countries and the regions in which the drug trafficking routes are located.

Information, research and evaluation

In order to gain a clearer picture and understanding of the drugs problem, the action plan calls for the supply of reliable information, in particular through the introduction of five key epidemiological indicators. Emerging trends must also be identified, as well as user habits and characteristics of the drugs markets, by means of surveys, Community guidelines and tools for detecting and following up such trends.

The action plan encourages research into the factors underlying dependency and into questions on the effects of certain drugs and effective health measures. The action plan also encourages the setting-up of excellence networks in the field of drug research.

Follow-up of the action plan

Assessment tools and indicators for each action, which were designed with the assistance of the EMCDDA and Europol, will help the Commission to monitor the implementation of the action plan.

The Commission will carry out an impact study in 2008, in order to propose a second action plan for 2009-12. It will conduct a final assessment of the strategy and the action plans in 2012.

Background

The EU anti-drugs strategy, adopted by the Brussels European Council in December 2004, includes a series of measures designed to curb demand for drugs, improve treatments for drug addicts and reduce the availability of illegal drugs. It commits Member States to strengthening the cohesion of their drug enforcement policies. It establishes two consecutive plans between 2005 and 2012. This strategy is an essential element of the Hague Programme, a multiannual programme aimed at strengthening freedom, security and justice in the EU.

Related Acts

 of 20 December 2008 [Official Journal C 326 of 20.12.2008].

The EU drugs action plan for the period 2009-12 follows on from that for the period 2005-08. Taking into consideration the lessons learned over the first four-year period, the plan builds on the established framework to reduce the demand for and supply of drugs.

Commission staff working document – Accompanying document to the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on an EU Drugs Action Plan (2009-2012) – Report of the final evaluation of the EU drugs action plan (2005-2008) [SEC(2008) 2456 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 10 December 2007 on the 2007 Progress Review of the implementation of the EU Action Plan on Drugs (2005-2008) [COM(2007) 781 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission identifies some positive aspects, in particular the convergence of national policies and further progress towards completion of the strategy’s objectives. However, it points to a lack of information on the impact the actions have in the framework of the anti-drug strategy. It therefore advocates the establishment of a methodology for evaluating the impact of these actions, adding that efforts should be pursued on the exchange of national information and alignment of the action plan indicators. It indicates its intention to undertake a final evaluation of the 2005-08 action plan on drugs and to draft a proposal on the 2009-12 action plan.

Commission staff working document of 21 December 2006 – 2006 Progress Review on the implementation of the EU Drugs Action Plan (2005-2008) [SEC(2006) 1803 – Not published in the Official Journal].


Another Normative about The EU drugs action plan

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Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

The EU drugs action plan (2009-12)

Document or Iniciative

EU Drugs Action Plan for 2009-2012 of 20 December 2008 [Official Journal C 326 of 20.12.2008].

Summary

Following on from the EU drugs action plan 2005-08, the current action plan builds on the measures established to coordinate drugs policy in Member States. These two action plans implement the EU drugs strategy for 2005-12, which was adopted by the European Council in December 2004. The overall aim of these instruments is to reduce the demand for and supply of drugs, as well as the social and health damage the use of and trade in drugs causes.

Based on the existing framework, the action plan for the period 2009-12 provides for specific actions under five priority areas:

Improve coordination

In order to develop and implement drugs policy more effectively, coordination and cooperation at the European and national levels must be strengthened. The Council’s Horizontal Drugs Group (HDG) should pro-actively coordinate EU drug policy. At the same time, the Council together with the Commission must ensure that the internal and external drugs policies are coherent. To move forward with specific and urgent issues, the national drugs coordinators should be convened on a regular basis.

At the national level, a balanced and integrated approach should be taken in forming drugs policy, with the civil society enabled to participate in informing thereof. The Commission should consult the Civil Society Forum on Drugs at least once a year and invite civil society (via “The European Alliance on Drugs” initiative) to contribute to the fight against drugs.

Reduce demand

The measures that reduce drug use and the related health and social consequences must be made more effective. In particular, the accessibility to as well as availability and quality of services that prevent, treat and reduce harm should be improved. Successful prevention programmes and interventions should be made available for a variety of target groups. Due regard should be given to the specific needs of drug users, especially in terms of age, gender, cultural background, etc. Targeted measures should also be put in place to prevent high risk behaviour of drug users.

The offer of drug treatments that consist of both psychological and pharmacological measures should be improved and new rehabilitation and re-integration programmes developed. The availability and effectiveness of demand reduction interventions should be surveyed by Member States. They should also agree on common minimum quality standards and benchmarks for these services.

Member States should make more use of sanctions other than prison to punish drug-offenders. At the same time, services for drug users in prison should be developed, with particular emphasis placed on health care as well as follow-up care upon release. Member States should also take steps to guarantee access to appropriate services to prevent the propagation of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other blood-borne infectious diseases, as well as to reduce the number of deaths caused by drugs.

Reduce supply

Law enforcement cooperation at European level must be improved in order to fight drug production and trafficking effectively. To that end, multidisciplinary operations involving Europol, Eurojust, as well as police, customs and border control services should be used to a greater extent through bilateral and multilateral cooperation initiatives, namely joint investigation teams (JIT) and joint customs operations (JCO). Furthermore, judicial cooperation among Member States should be improved, especially by encouraging the full application of EU instruments for mutual recognition and assistance.

With a view to responding to emerging threats in a rapid and effective manner at the operational level, regional security platforms, such as the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) and the Baltic Sea Task Force (BSTF) should be set up. At the same time, manufacturing and supplying of synthetic drugs as well as the trafficking of drug precursors must be diminished. This requires enhanced border control management and international operational cooperation.

Improve international cooperation

The effectiveness of cooperation with third countries and international organisations must be improved. The EU drugs policy must be incorporated into the general development and security agenda. Alternative development projects and programmes should be supported through increased financial aid. Projects aimed at producer countries and countries along trafficking routes should be stepped up to reduce the demand for and supply of drugs. Similarly, regional and intraregional cooperation funded by Member States and EC programmes should be enhanced with third countries. Monitoring and assessment tools must also be developed to evaluate EU assistance.

The European integrated and balanced approach to the drugs problem should be promoted, in particular through the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). Furthermore, EU drug-related activities should be coordinated with a wide range of international programmes.

Finally, the candidate and stabilisation and association process countries should be given technical and other assistance so that they may become familiar with the EU acquis and take the necessary actions concerning drug-related issues. Such dialogue should also be developed with the European Neighbourhood Policy countries.

Improve understanding of the drugs phenomenon

Understanding of the drugs phenomenon in the EU must be increased, not least to raise awareness among citizens, but also to expand the knowledge base for public policy. This should be achieved through the promotion of research and of exchanges of drug-related data.

It is essential that monitoring instruments, such as the five key epidemiological indicators of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), be further developed to assess the drug situation in Europe. Member States must regularly evaluate their drug policies and amend them accordingly.

The current action plan shall be reviewed annually. In addition, the implementation of the EU drugs strategy for 2005-12 and of this action plan shall be assessed in 2012, with a view to considering any follow-up actions.

The EU drugs strategy

The EU drugs strategy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The EU drugs strategy

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Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

The EU drugs strategy (2005-12)

Document or Iniciative

Note from the Council of 22 November 2004 on the EU Drugs Strategy for the period 2005-2012 [15074/04 – Not published in the Official Journal] (pdf ).

Summary

The Council identifies two general aims with regard to drugs:

  • the EU seeks to achieve a high level of health protection, well-being and social cohesion by complementing the efforts of Member States to prevent and reduce drug use, dependence and drug-related damage to health and society;
  • the EU and its Member States strive to ensure a high level of security for the general public by taking action against drug production, cross-border trafficking in drugs and the diversion of chemical precursors used in drug production, as well as by intensifying preventive action against drug-related crime through effective cooperation embedded in a joint approach.

The strategy concentrates on two policy fields demand reduction and supply reduction and on two cross-cutting themes international cooperation and research, information and evaluation.

Field of action: demand reduction

The following priorities have been identified in the area of demand reduction:

  • improving access to and effectiveness of prevention programmes and raising awareness thereof;
  • improving access to early intervention programmes or measures;
  • improving access to targeted and diversified treatment programmes;
  • improving access to services for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Field of action: supply reduction

The following priorities have been identified in the area of supply reduction:

  • strengthening EU law enforcement cooperation at both strategic and crime prevention levels;
  • intensifying effective law enforcement cooperation between Member States by using existing instruments and frameworks;
  • preventing the illicit import and export of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, including to other Member States;
  • enhancing law enforcement, criminal investigation and forensic science cooperation between Member States that have common interests and/or face the same drug-related problems;
  • intensifying law enforcement efforts directed at non-EU countries, especially producer countries and regions along trafficking routes.

The focus will be on production, illicit (intra-EU) cross-border drug trafficking, criminal networks engaged in these activities and related serious crime. The flow of drugs from the EU to third countries must also be curbed.

Many instruments and frameworks have been established to reduce supply, including the framework decision laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and applicable penalties in the field of drug trafficking, joint investigation teams, the European arrest warrant, Europol and Eurojust, the financial intelligence unit, confiscation of assets measures, and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its Protocols.

Cross-cutting theme: international cooperation

The following priorities have been identified in the area of external relations:

  • coordinated, effective and more visible action by the Union in international organisations and fora to enhance and promote a balanced approach to the drugs problem;
  • special efforts in relation to the candidate countries and potential candidate countries, such as the countries of the stabilisation and association process;
  • assisting third countries, including neighbouring European countries and key drug-producing and transit countries, to be more effective in drug demand and supply reduction, both through closer cooperation among EU-Member States and by mainstreaming drug issues into the general common foreign and security policy dialogue and development cooperation. New cooperation agreements between the EU and third countries should continue to include a specific clause on cooperation in drugs control.

Cross-cutting theme: information, research and evaluation

The following priorities have been identified in the field of information and research:

  • improving EU knowledge infrastructure in the field of drugs and consolidating the drug information systems and tools developed over the 2000-04 period, making full use of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol;
  • each EU action plan should include priority research topics to be fostered at EU level, taking into account the rapid evolution of the drugs problem.

As regards evaluation, the EU drugs strategy 2005-12 makes clear that it is an integral part of an EU approach to drugs policy that serves to give clear indications about the merits and shortcomings of current actions and activities at EU level.

Coordination

The action plans should include initiatives that will contribute to the further development of a European coordination mechanism. EU-level coordination of drugs policy should take place through the Council’s Horizontal Drugs Group (HDG), whose function is to prepare a clear and coherent drugs policy for adoption by the Council. If it is to play a leading role in the drugs field, the HDG needs to be kept informed of relevant developments at national level and of activities carried out by other relevant Council working groups.

Monitoring

In 2012, the Commission will organise an overall evaluation of the EU drugs strategy and action plans for the Council and the European Parliament, in cooperation with the EMCDDA, Europol and the Member States.

Background

The current drug situation in the EU is described in the annual reports of the EMCDDA and Europol. The results of the final evaluation of the EU drugs strategy 2000-04 and the action plan on drugs 2000-04 indicate that progress has been made in achieving some of the targets, although the available data does not suggest that there has been a significant reduction in the prevalence of drug use or that the availability of drugs has been substantially reduced.

At its meeting of 17-18 June 2004, the European Council invited the Council to adopt proposals by no later than December 2004 for a new EU drugs strategy for the period 2005-12. This strategy builds on the previous strategy and its action plan, taking into consideration these texts as well as the mid-term evaluation of the action plan, the Council’s response to this evaluation and the results of the final evaluation.

Related Acts

EU Drugs Action Plan for 2009-2012 of 20 December 2008 [Official Journal C 326 of 20.12.2008].
The EU drugs action plan 2009-12 follows on from that of 2005-08. It builds on the measures established to implement the EU drugs strategy 2005-12, thereby aiming to reduce the demand for and supply of drugs. To that end, the action plan sets out five priority areas with specific actions that coordinate drugs policy at national and European levels.

of 8 July 2005 [Official Journal C 168 of 8.7.2005].

Communication from the Commission of 10 May 2005 – The Hague Programme: Ten priorities for the next five years. The Partnership for European renewal in the field of Freedom, Security and Justice [COM(2005) 184 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on information exchange, risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances [Official Journal L 127 of 20.5.2005].

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 12 November 2003 on coordination on drugs in the European Union [COM(2003) 681 final – not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission, wishing to boost coordination on drugs at EU level, explains what is needed and what is at stake, pointing to the main existing models of coordination and emphasising the key elements of effective interaction. It recommends, in particular, incorporating all aspects of drug-related policy (social and health aspects, enforcement measures, youth policy), close cooperation between law enforcement bodies and coordination between them and social and health services, as well as systematic development of the evaluation of strategies and activities in this field.

 

Combating drugs

Combating drugs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating drugs

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

Combating drugs

Well-being, social cohesion and security are all objectives which guide the action taken by the European Union in combating drugs. In this context, the EU’s action focuses mainly on reducing supply and demand, which links up with both the fight against organised crime and a high level of health protection. The main components are: greater coordination between the competent services in the EU; harmonisation in the field of infringements and penalties; and effective international cooperation. To this end, bodies such as the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and instruments such as the financial strategies and programmes complete the policy framework to combat drugs effectively and to achieve all these defined objectives.

GENERAL FRAMEWORK

  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
  • ‘Drug prevention and information’ programme (2007-2013)
  • The EU drugs strategy (2005-12)
  • Prevention and reduction of risks associated with drug dependence
  • The role of civil society in drugs policy in the European Union

FIGHT AGAINST DRUG TRAFFICKING

  • Lawful transmission of samples of controlled substances
  • Criminal acts and the applicable penalties
  • Operational investigation methods
  • Targeting criteria for controls and collection of customs and police information
  • Cooperation between customs authorities and business organisations of the Member States
  • Police/customs agreements in the fight against drugs
  • Approximation of the laws of the Member States (1)
  • Approximation of the laws of the Member States (2)

FIGHT AGAINST THE MANUFACTURE OF DRUGS

  • Drug precursors: external aspects
  • Drug precursors: internal aspects
  • Stronger control measures for the synthetic drug BZP
  • Information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances
  • Exchange of information on drugs

PROGRAMMES AND PLANS OF ACTION

  • The EU drugs action plan (2009-12)
  • The EU drugs action plan (2005-08)
  • Programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008)
  • Action Plan to Combat Drugs (2000-2004)
  • Action plan to combat drugs (1995-1999)
  • National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: second report
  • National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: first report

Criminal acts and the applicable penalties

Criminal acts and the applicable penalties

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Criminal acts and the applicable penalties

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

Criminal acts and the applicable penalties

Document or Iniciative

Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA of 25 October 2004 laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug trafficking.

Summary

This framework decision lays down minimum provisions on criminal acts and the penalties applicable to drug trafficking.

Offences

The framework decision requires each European Union (EU) country to take the necessary measures to sanction all intentional behaviour relating to the trafficking in drugs and precursors.

“Drugs” are defined as any substances covered by the 1961 United Nations (UN) Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances or as any substances subject to controls under Joint Action 97/396/JHA. Precursors are substances used to produce legal products such as medicines, but that can also be used to produce illicit drugs. They are classified in EU law on the basis of Article 12 of the 1988 UN Convention.

Acts linked to drug trafficking include production, manufacture, extraction, sale, transport, importation and exportation. Possession and purchase with a view to engaging in activities linked with drug trafficking are also taken into account, as are the manufacture, transport and distribution of precursors. Incitement to drug trafficking, aiding and abetting such activity, and attempting to traffic in drugs are regarded as offences.

However, this framework decision does not cover activities relating to the trafficking in drugs for personal consumption.

Liability of legal persons

The framework decision requires EU countries to take measures to ensure that legal persons can be held to account for offences linked with trafficking in drugs and precursors, as well as for aiding and abetting, inciting or attempting such activity. The concept of legal persons as used here does not include states and public bodies in the exercise of their powers or public international organisations.

An organisation is liable if the offence is committed by an individual who has a leading position within that organisation. It is also held responsible for shortcomings in supervision or control. However, the liability of legal persons does not exclude criminal proceedings against natural persons.

Sanctions

The framework decision requires EU countries to take the necessary measures to ensure that offences are subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties.

If an offence is committed in whole or in part within an EU country’s territory, that country must take measures, provided that the offender is one of its nationals or that the offence was committed for the benefit of a legal person established within its territory.

The maximum penalties for minor offences must be at least between one and three years’ imprisonment. EU countries must also take the necessary measures to confiscate substances used to commit offences.

Maximum penalties must be at least between five and ten years of deprivation of liberty in cases where the offence:

  • involves large quantities of drugs;
  • involves those drugs that are most harmful to health;
  • is committed within the framework of a criminal organisation.

However, penalties may be reduced if the offender renounces his illegal activities and provides information to the administrative or legal authorities that will help identify other offenders.

Sanctions for legal persons must include fines for criminal or non-criminal offences. Other sanctions may also be imposed, including placing the establishment under judicial supervision or closing it temporarily or permanently.

Background

This framework decision follows up the conclusions of the 1999 Tampere European Council, which called on EU countries to adopt additional legal provisions to combat trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The EU action plan to combat drugs (2000-04) also called for measures to introduce minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties on drug trafficking.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA

12.11.2004

12.5.2006

OJ L 335 of 11.11.2004

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 10 December 2009 on the implementation of Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug trafficking [COM(2009) 669 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In line with the requirements of Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA, this report evaluates its application by EU countries. However, six EU countries had failed to report on their transposition measures by the deadline.
Compliance with the provisions of the framework decision is problematic, in particular as regards:

  • crimes linked to trafficking in drugs;
  • passive liability of and sanctions for legal persons;
  • jurisdiction in cases where the offence is committed outside an EU country for the benefit of a legal person established in the territory of that country.

While national legislations can be considered to be in line with the requirements of the framework decision regarding penalties, these differ greatly from one EU country to another and are, in general, much higher than those established by the framework decision.
On the whole, the framework decision has resulted in little changes to the national legislations of EU countries. Consequently, the Commission is calling on those EU countries that provided no information or incomplete information to report back on their transposition measures.

Information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances

Information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

Information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on the information exchange, risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances.

Summary

The decision establishes a mechanism for a rapid exchange of information on new psychoactive substances. It repeals Joint Action 97/396/JHA, which concerned only new synthetic drugs. The Commission’s evaluation of the joint action of 1997, provided for by the European Action Plan to Combat Drugs (2000-04), showed that it should be strengthened and given a new direction.

The decision takes note of the information on the suspected adverse reactions to be notified under the pharmacovigilance system established by Title IX of Directive 2001/83/CE. It also provides for an assessment of the risks which these new psychoactive substances contain, so that supervisory measures may be applied.

It applies to substances not currently listed in any of the schedules to the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which may pose a comparable threat to public health as the substances listed in Schedule I or II or IV thereof, and the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which may pose a comparable threat to public health as the substances listed in Schedule I or II or IV thereof.

Each European Union (EU) country shall ensure that its Europol National Unit and its representative in the European Information Network on Drugs and Drug Addiction (Reitox) provide information on the manufacture, traffic and use of new psychoactive substances and of preparations containing new psychoactive substances.

Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) collect the information received from EU countries through a reporting form and communicate this information immediately to each other and to the Europol national units, the EU countries’ representatives in the Reitox network, the European Commission and the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA).

If necessary, in light of the information supplied by EU countries, Europol and the EMCDDA may submit a joint report containing, among other things, information on the involvement of organised crime in the manufacture or trafficking of the new psychoactive substance, a first indication of the risks associated with the new psychoactive substance, including the health and social risks, and the characteristics of users, the date of notification of the new psychoactive substance to the EMCDDA or to Europol, etc.

The EMEA informs Europol and the EMCDDA whether in the EU or in any EU country:

  • the new psychoactive substance has obtained a marketing authorisation;
  • the substance is the subject of an application for a marketing authorisation;
  • a marketing authorisation that had been granted in respect of the new psychoactive substance has been suspended.

The Council, taking into account the advice of Europol and the EMCDDA, may request an assessment of the health and social risks caused by the use of, the manufacture of, and traffic in, a new psychoactive substance, the involvement of organised crime and the possible consequences of control measures.

The risk assessment report includes the physical and chemical description of the new psychoactive substance, the health and social risks associated with the new psychoactive substance and the chemical precursors that are used for the manufacture of the substance, etc.

No risk assessment is carried out on a new psychoactive substance in the absence of a Europol/EMCDDA joint report or where the new psychoactive substance concerned is at an advanced stage of assessment within the United Nations system, namely once the WHO expert committee on drug dependence has published its critical review together with a written recommendation. No assessment is carried out if the new psychoactive substance is used to manufacture a medicinal product that is the subject of an authorisation or an authorisation request. There is no assessment either if the new psychoactive substance is used to manufacture a medicinal product for which a marketing authorisation has been suspended.

Within six weeks from the date on which it received the risk assessment report, the Commission will present to the Council an initiative to have the new psychoactive substance subjected to control measures. If the Commission deems that it is not necessary to undertake this initiative, it may be presented to the Council by one or more EU countries.

If the Council decides to submit a new psychoactive substance to control measures, EU countries will endeavour to take the necessary measures to submit the new psychotropic drug to control measures and criminal penalties as provided under their legislation by virtue of their obligations under the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

The EMCDDA and Europol report annually to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the efficacy and achievements of the system created by this decision.

EU countries and the EMEA ensure an appropriate exchange of information between the mechanism set up by means of this decision and the pharmacovigilance systems as defined and established under Title VII of Directive 2001/82/EC and Title IX of Directive 2001/83/EC.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2005/387/JHA

10.5.2005

OJ L 127, 20.5.2005

Exchange of information on drugs

Exchange of information on drugs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exchange of information on drugs

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

Exchange of information on drugs

To strengthen cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking.

2) Document or Iniciative

Joint Action 96/699/JHA of 29 November 1996, adopted by the Council on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union, concerning the exchange of information on the chemical profiling of drugs to facilitate improved cooperation between Member States in combating drug trafficking
[Official Journal L 322 of 12.12.1996].

3) Summary

This Joint Action is intended to establish a more cohesive mechanism for the transmission and dissemination of the results of drug profiling in Member States. It envisages the exchange of information relating to the chemical profiling of cocaine, heroin, LSD, amphetamines and their ecstasy-type derivatives MDA, MDMA and MDEA, and such other drugs or psychotropic substances as Member States see fit.

The Europol Drugs Unit is designated as the authority to which information from Member States concerning chemical profiling is to be transmitted.

The Europol Drugs Unit will transmit to all Member States the information supplied under 1.

Act Date
of entry into force
Deadline for implementation in the Member States
Joint action 96/699/JHA 12.12.1996

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Cooperation between customs authorities and business organisations of the Member States

Cooperation between customs authorities and business organisations of the Member States

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Cooperation between customs authorities and business organisations of the Member States

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

Cooperation between customs authorities and business organisations of the Member States

To consolidate the already cooperative relationship between the customs authorities of the Member States and business organisations in combating drug trafficking.

2) Document or Iniciative

Joint Action 96/698/JHA of 29 November 1996, adopted by the Council on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty of the European Union, on cooperation between customs authorities and business organisations in combating drug trafficking [Official Journal L 322 of 12.12.1996].

3) Summary

In order to consolidate the already cooperative relationship between customs authorities of the business organisations operating in the European Union in combating drug trafficking, Member States will establish or further develop Memoranda of Understanding programmes at national level under the guidelines laid down in this joint action and will invite participation in such programmes.

Memoranda of Understanding between customs authorities and business organisations may contain, but need not be confined to, provisions in respect of the following:

  • the exchange of contact names in customs and in the signatory organisation;
  • the provision to customs, by the signatory, of advance cargo or passenger data as appropriate;
  • access by customs to the signatory’s information systems;
  • assessment by customs of the signatory’s security procedures;
  • development and implementation of plans to improve such security;
  • checking of newly recruited staff by the signatory;
  • provision by customs of training for the signatory’s staff.

Customs authorities will periodically review the operation of national Memoranda of Understanding programmes and will also review the implementation of individual Memoranda of Understanding and, in agreement with the signatories, adapt them as necessary to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Member States will notify the Council Secretariat of the measures they have taken to implement the provisions of this joint action one year after its entry into force and thereafter as requested by the Presidency.

Member States may at their discretion extend the scope of Memoranda of Understanding established under the programmes referred to at 1 to cover other offences for which the customs authorities are competent in addition to drug trafficking.

Act Date
of entry into force
Final date for implementation in the Member States
Joint action 96/698/JHA 12.12.1996

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work