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Drug control

Drugs are a complex social and health problem that affects millions of people in the EU. The European Union and the Member States have developed together, over the past two decades, a European approach to addressing drugs sustainably. This approach is enshrined in the EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020 and the EU Drugs Action plan on drugs (most recent covering the period 2013-16).

The Strategy is based on the fundamental principles of EU law and upholds the founding values of the Union: respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, solidarity, the rule of law and human rights. The Strategy is also based on international law, the relevant UN Conventions (30 March 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol ; 21 February 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances); 20 December 1988 UN Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) which provide the international legal framework for addressing the illicit drugs phenomenon and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and takes into account relevant UN political documents. Furthermore, the Strategy respects fully the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The Strategy provides a common and evidence-based framework for responding to the drugs phenomenon within and outside the EU. It aims to contribute to reduce the drug demand and drug supply within the EU, as well as the health and social risks and harms caused by drugs. The objectives are to be achieved through a strategic approach that supports and complements national policies, provides a framework for coordinated and joint actions and forms the basis and political framework for EU external cooperation in this field. This is achieved through an integrated, balanced and evidence-based approach.

The Strategy is structured around two policy areas: drug demand reduction and drug supply reduction, and three cross-cutting themes: (a) coordination, (b) international cooperation and (c) research, information, monitoring and evaluation.

The EU Drugs policy also addresses new challenges like the increasing trend towards poly-substance use (including combination of licit substances - such as alcohol and prescribed controlled medication, and illicit substances), the emergence and the spread of new psychoactive substances, the dynamics in the illicit drug markets, including shifting drug trafficking routes, cross border organised crime and the use of new communication technologies as a facilitator for the distribution of illicit drugs and new psychoactive substances as well as the prevention of the diversion of precursors, pre-precursors and other essential chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs.

European drugs control policy is evidence based, and is informed by the annual report, other information, analysis and reports made in by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)

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