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Brussels, 7 June 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are here today to present the most recent trends on drugs in Europe, thanks to the work of our European Drugs Agency.
This work is highly appreciated, and recognised, every year, in Europe but also worldwide.
Better combatting the threats and dangers that drugs pose is a continuous priority for the European Commission and for me personally.
This year's report shows both positive as well as worrying signals on the evolution of the drugs phenomenon in Europe.
Drug availability remains high and drug production in Europe is increasing.
The drug problem remains an important threat to both the health and the security of citizens, and especially for our youth.
Such a longstanding threat can only be tackled if we all work together – across Europe and with our international partners.
On new psychoactive substances (NPS), the report shows that there are some limited signs of improvement: for the third year in a row the rate of newly discovered substances has declined.
During 2017, 51 new substances were detected for the first time in Europe.
This is fewer than in any of the previous 5 years and represents a decline from the peak levels of about 100 new identifications each year reached in 2014 and 2015.
The substances detected are becoming more and more potent and therefore dangerous.
We continue to stay alerted and we react immediately, with the support of our Drugs Agency, when we are informed of new dangerous substances.
Our legislation on new psychoactive substances (NPS) will become fully effective in November this year.
We will be able to act even faster and more efficiently to threats posed by such new substances.
And as the world is becoming more globalised, so is the drug market too.
The global dimension can be seen, for example, in the increased production of heroin and cocaine in Asia and Latin America, and the role Europe's drug markets now play in the production and export of synthetic drugs.
Another example of the increasingly global and fast-moving nature of the drugs problem is the growth of drug sales on the internet, both on the dark web as well as on the surface web.
Last November, we presented in Lisbon a very useful joint report of Europol and our European Drugs Agency on how darknet markets function, the threats they pose to health and security, and how Europe can respond.
These are challenges not only for Europe, but for the whole world.
Therefore, we have regular dialogues on drugs issues with countries outside the EU, and we provide assistance for a wide range of major drugs-related external cooperation programmes.
In view of the next United Nations Global Drug Policy Review in 2019, the EU is working with its partners to drive international drug policies forward.
As I said in the beginning, cooperation is crucial to effectively fight the risks posed by illicit drugs.
Law enforcement and customs authorities from across Europe, the Commission, agencies and other stakeholders organise regular joint action days tackling several crime priorities.
In the past, these joint action days led to the seizure and confiscation of different drugs, but also firearms, smuggled cigarettes, counterfeit goods and other illegal goods, as well as to the arrest of the concerned criminals.
A coordinated approach is the best solution to tackle both the drug supply and demand side.
The EU and its Member States will continue working relentlessly on countering the drugs problem, using all the instruments at our disposal: legislation, operational actions, and constructive talks with third countries, and dialogues with the civil society.
Let me finish by thanking Alexis and his colleagues for the tremendous work and for another extremely informative and useful report this year.