EU response to drugs
Drug use, drug-related crime, and the social and health problems that go with them are a serious threat to our societies. Around 12 million people in the European Union are taking - or have at some time taken - cocaine. For ecstasy, the figure is nearly 10 million, and for cannabis a staggering 70 million.
In response, EU countries are working together to reduce the use of illicit drugs and the trafficking of drugs to the EU.
Drugs policy is largely the responsibility of the EU national authorities, which are best placed to make those choices that best suit the local culture and socio-economic conditions. But on their own EU countries are unable to tackle the drugs problem effectively.
Tackling illicit drugs requires a long-term, integrated and multidisciplinary approach, which joins together public health, social and education policies, law enforcement and external action in a coherent policy.
Role of the European Commission
It is our job to:
- monitor and evaluate actions taken by EU countries to reduce drug use and prevent drugs-related crime and trafficking;
- propose EU-wide control measures for new drugs when necessary after carefully analysing risk assessments;
- enforce the EU laws to control and prevent the use of chemical substances for the manufacture of illicit drugs;
- foster European cooperation by providing financial assistance in the field of illicit drugs;
- ensure the overall coherence of the EU drugs policy framework coordinate EU positions in international fora;
- support cross-border projects in the illicit drugs field.
Getting Civil Society on Board
Civil society, in particular non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is an important partner in the implementation of EU drugs policy.
The Commission hosts the annual Civil Society Forum on Drugs and runs the European Action on Drugs (EAD), which is a platform designed to involve civil society in campaigns to raise awareness about drug use and abuse.
EU countries have also agreed a number of legislative instruments to tackle illicit drugs at the EU level:
- Council Decision on the information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances
- Council Framework Decision laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug trafficking
- Council Recommendation on the prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug dependence
- EU Regulations on the prevention of diversion of chemical precursors
The legal basis of the EU drugs policy under the Treaty of Lisbon is twofold: judicial cooperation in criminal matters (Articles 83 (1) and 84) and public health (Article 168).
Responding to drugs under the Lisbon Treaty
Article 83 (1) TFEU - judicial cooperation in criminal matters :
"The European Parliament and the Council may, by means of directives adopted in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension resulting from the nature or impact of such offences or from a special need to combat them on a common basis. These areas of crime are the following: terrorism, trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of women and children, illicit drug trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, money laundering, corruption, counterfeiting of means of payment, computer crime and organised crime."
Article 84 TFEU - crime prevention :
"The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, may establish measures to promote and support the action of Member States in the field of crime prevention, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States."
Article 168 TFEU (1) third intent - public health :
"The Union shall complement the Member States' action in reducing drugs-related health damage including information and prevention."