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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Stronger EU action to fight illegal drugs and new synthetic substances

Magnus Manske (Commons)

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called for "concerted action at EU level" in the fight against illicit drugs. New synthetic substances which imitate the effects of dangerous drugs like ecstasy or cocaine are a growing problem. Over the past two years, one new substance has emerged every week. In response, the Commission has put forward the first comprehensive anti-drugs strategy at European level.

With the Lisbon Treaty now in place, the EU has new tools to fight drug use and trafficking at an EU-wide level. Currently, clampdowns at national level may simply force criminals to move drug production to neighbouring countries or to shift trafficking routes. Over the coming months, the Commission will develop clearer and stronger rules on tackling dangerous new drugs and trafficking – both of illicit drugs and chemicals used to make them.

According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, new synthetic drugs, which can be just as dangerous as banned substances, are increasingly popular, with 5% of young Europeans saying they have used them. Referring to young people, Ms Reding said: "Effective rules without loopholes are needed so that young people in particular do not fall into the trap of using dangerous drugs, which are a major threat to their health and well-being."

In the next two years the Commission will present various legislative proposals on drugs, drug precursors (chemicals) and drug trafficking, as well as other measures.