Tag Archives: Drugs

Drug precursors: internal aspects

Drug precursors: internal aspects

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Drug precursors: internal aspects


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


Drug precursors: internal aspects

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 on drug precursors [See amending act(s)].


Effective control of chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is an important tool in combating drug trafficking. However, these chemicals (known as “precursors”) also have legal and legitimate industrial uses. Therefore, it is necessary to recognise and protect the legal trade in these substances, while discouraging their diversion for illicit purposes.

The objective is to strike a balance between taking action to prevent the manufacture of illegal drugs and avoiding barriers to the legal trade in chemicals.

Measures to control precursors

This regulation establishes harmonised measures for controlling and monitoring within the European Union (EU) certain chemical substances that are frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs. It defines “scheduled substances” * in accordance with Article 12 of the United Nations (UN) Convention (see below). For these scheduled substances, the regulation contains provisions relating to licences, customer declarations and labelling. A monitoring procedure is put in place to prevent obstacles to the free trade in these substances between EU countries.

At the same time, the regulation also defines “non-scheduled substances” * in accordance with Article 12 of the UN Convention. For these substances, the Commission draws up guidelines establishing a more flexible control system than the one applicable to scheduled substances.

Under the regulation, operators * must immediately notify the competent authorities of any circumstances, such as unusual orders or transactions involving scheduled substances to be placed on the market *, which suggest that such substances might be diverted for the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.

Obligations of operators

Operators wishing to place on the market substances scheduled as precursors (categories 1 or 2 of Annex I) have the following obligations:

  • to appoint an officer responsible for the trade, and to notify the competent authorities of the name and contact details of that officer;
  • to declare the addresses of the premises at which they manufacture or from which they trade in these substances (for category 2);
  • to obtain a licence from the competent authorities for possession of substances listed in category 1 (special licences may be granted to pharmacies, dispensaries of veterinary medicine, certain types of public authorities or armed forces);
  • to ask customers to sign a declaration specifying the use(s) made of the substance provided to them;
  • to supply scheduled substances only to natural or legal persons in possession of a licence for possession of such substances (for category 1);
  • to affix a label to scheduled substances before they are transported, showing the name, quantity and weight of the substance and the name and address of the supplier and the recipient.

To prevent creating unnecessary barriers to trade, the requirements for scheduled substances in category 2 are less restrictive than for those in category 1, particularly where the quantities involved do not exceed those indicated in Annex II.

Assisted by a committee, the Commission draws up and keeps updated a list of substances to monitor. EU countries must distribute these lists to operators.

This regulation repeals Council Directive 92/109/EEC, Commission Directives 93/46/EEC, 2001/8/EC and 2003/101/EC, and Commission Regulations (EC) Nos 1485/96 and 1533/2000.

Background: internal and external aspects of the fight against drugs

In 1990, the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances was adopted by the EU through Council Decision 90/611/ EEC. Article 12 of the UN Convention required measures to be taken to monitor the manufacture and distribution of precursors. As regards the external aspect of this requirement, i.e. monitoring the trade in precursors between EU and non-EU countries, the requirements of Article 12 have been met by Council Regulation (EEC) No 111/2005.

Key terms used in the act
  • Scheduled substance: any substance listed in Annex I liable to be used for the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, including mixtures and natural products containing such substances. This excludes medicinal products, pharmaceutical preparations, mixtures, natural products and other preparations containing scheduled substances that are compounded in such a way that they cannot be easily used or extracted by readily applicable or economically viable means.
  • Non-scheduled substance: any substance which, although not listed in Annex I, is identified as having been used for the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.
  • Placing on the market: any supply, whether in return for payment or free of charge, of scheduled substances in the EU; or the storage, manufacture, production, processing, trade, distribution or brokering of these substances for the purpose of supply in the EU.
  • Operator: any natural or legal person engaged in the placing on the market of scheduled substances.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 273/2004


JO L 47 of 18.2.2004

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 219/2009


OJ L 87 of 31.3.2009

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 7 January 2010 pursuant to Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 and to Article 32 of Council Regulation (EC) No 111/2005 on the implementation and functioning of the Community legislation on monitoring and control of trade in drug precursors [COM(2009) 709 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report evaluates the implementation as well as the functioning of Regulations (EC) Nos 273/2004 (above) and 111/2005.
Based on data received form EU countries, the Commission’s evaluation concludes that the legal framework for controlling trade generally provides measures that are proportionate for preventing the diversion of drug precursors without obstructing their legitimate trade. The well-functioning cooperation between operators and competent authorities has greatly contributed to this. Furthermore, the EU guidelines for the chemical industry, together with a new eLearning course for economic operators, complements well this legal framework.
EU countries have applied the common licensing system for category 1 precursors satisfactorily and it functions effectively for the competent authorities as well as for the industry. However, the registration requirement for category 2 precursors might have certain weak points for properly controlling, and preventing diversion in the trade of these substances. In addition, certain provisions (e.g. relating to customer declarations or criteria for determining mixtures) are interpreted differently by EU countries. Other difficulties concern the insufficient rate of reporting by operators to competent authorities and certain aspects of the legislation on external trade, such as inflexible time limits for pre-export notifications and lack of simplified authorisation procedures.
Consequently, the report makes the following recommendations:

  • enhance the harmonised application of the legislative framework by EU countries, especially by sharing best practice;
  • improve reporting, for example by increasing the frequency with which operators must report to competent authorities;
  • possibly modify existing legislation to strengthen controls on category 2 precursors;
  • strengthen controls on pharmaceutical preparations/medicinal products containing ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine that transit through the EU;
  • modify the procedural requirements to achieve a level of controls that is proportionate to the risk of diversion.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1277/2005 of 27 July 2005 laying down implementing rules for Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on drug precursors and for Council Regulation (EC) No 111/2005 laying down rules for the monitoring of trade between the Community and third countries in drug precursors [Official Journal L 202 of 03.08.2005].
This regulation lays down rules for the implementation of the abovementioned regulations as regards the responsible officer, the licensing and registration of operators, the provision of information, pre-export notifications and authorisation of exports and imports in the field of drug precursors.

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


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].


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.


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.

The EU drugs action plan

The EU drugs action plan

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


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 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].


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.


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.


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


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 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].


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.