Drug precursors are chemicals used in illicit manufacture of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy or methamphetamines. However, these chemicals have primarily large and varied legitimate use. For example, they are used in the synthesis of plastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, perfumes, detergents or aromas. Effective control of the trade of these chemicals is one of the best ways of fighting drug precursor diversion.
Fighting against diversion of drug precursors contributes to the overall fight against the supply of illegal drugs. Reduction of drug precursor diversion and trafficking is therefore an important objective of the overall EU Drugs Strategy and its EU Action Plan on Drugs. Further information on the European Drug Control policy can be found on the Freedom, Security and Justice Website.
At international level, the 1988 United Nations Convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and in particular Article 12, requires that countries implement measures to control and monitor the legitimate trade in drug precursors as an essential way to prevent at an early stage their diversion. Co-operation between authorities and Industry is a key element to the success of this control and monitoring system.
At EU level, Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 (managed by the Commission's Enterprise and Industry Directorate General) and Council Regulation (EC) No 111/2005 (managed by the European Commission's Directorate General for Taxation and the Customs Union) constitute the legal framework in place aiming at preventing diversion of drug precursors through close monitoring of their trade both within the EU and between the EU and the rest of the world.
Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 lays down harmonized rules for monitoring the intra-community trade on drug precursors.
It strikes a balance between taking the necessary actions to prevent diversion of drug precursors while allowing the legitimate intra-Community trade in these chemical substances without creating unnecessary administrative burdens. Different degrees of control apply to operators depending on the sensitivity of the drug precursors they possess or handle, through a classification of the drug precursors into three categories.
Regulation (EC) No 111/2005 lays down rules for the monitoring of trade in drug precursors between the EU and third countries outside the European Union. The purpose of this Regulation is to control imports and exports of trade in drug precursors. Further information can be found on the Taxation and Customs Union website.
Commission Regulation (EC) No 1277/2005 of 27 July 2005 sets up detailed implementing rules, aiming at ensuring a more uniform implementation of the Community legal framework, by competent authorities and economic operators.
A guidance document [52 KB] contains consensual answers to questions of interpretation raised by authorities and/or operators.
On 7 January 2010, the Commission adopted a report to the Council and to the European Parliament COM (2009)709 on the implementation and the functioning of the Community legislation on drug precursors prepared pursuant to Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 and to Article 32 of Council Regulation (EC) No 111/2005.
The report describes the state of implementation of the Community legislation including the actions undertaken by the Commission, Member States, and industry to facilitate implementation as well as the strengths and weaknesses identified during the evaluation. It also reports the main trends in diversion and diversion attempts of drug precursors. The report finally provides recommendations for better implementation and possible amendments of the legislative framework.
Commission Proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 273/2004
Following the results of an impact assessment, the Commission adopted a proposal to amend Regulation No 273/2004 .
Staff Working Document (2012) 278 Final - Executive summary of the Impact Assessment
Staff Working Paper (2012) 279 Final - Impact Assessment
On the basis of the information provided by Member States, the Commission publishes every year a report on shipments in drug precursors that have been seized or stopped in the EU, allowing a monitoring of trends in the illegal diversion of drug precursors.
2012 Report (statistics from 2011) [4 MB]
2011 Report (statistics from 2010) [4 MB]
2010 Report (statistics from 2009) [3 MB]
2009 Report (statistics from 2008) [2 MB]
2008 Report (statistics from 2007) [3 MB]
2007 Report (statistics from 2006) [3 MB]
EU Member States National authorities [149 KB]
Communication tool - only for members of the Working group "Drug precursors"
Legislative process towards current Regulation (EC) N°273/2004: