European Drug Report Launch 2021

We can only be effective if we base acts on facts. And that’s why this report is so important.

It provides a solid basis for robust actions.

Drug trafficking, drug production and drug addiction are growing concerns

Over a ten year period, police has seized increasing amounts of drugs, year after year. Drugs of all kinds and all types. From cannabis to cocaine, from methamphetamine to MDMA, from amphetamines to heroin/ 

Pointing in part to effective police actions – the last one presented yesterday – but also to increased availability and production.

The pandemic did not stop people using drugs.

Use dropped in the first few months of lockdown but then bounced back.

The pandemic at first posed obstacles for people with drug problems, dependency, harmful use to get help. But thankfully, drug services managed to innovate, providing telemedicine and distance services.

The pandemic did not stop drug traffickers and dealers. They quickly adapted to lock downs, travel restrictions and border closures. Relying less on human couriers, more on shipping containers.

Lockdown or not, the supply of cocaine to Europe continues uninterrupted. In 2019, law enforcement seized 213 tonnes of cocaine – more than ever before.

And in Europe itself, the production of cannabis and synthetic drugs continues at pre-pandemic levels.

In 2019, Member States seized nearly 3 tonnes of methamphetamine. Five times more than the year before, of this very addictive and  very dangerous drug. 

The pandemic is pushing drug criminals online, reinforcing a trend. Drug dealers are moving from the streets onto social media. Taking orders via encrypted messaging services. Sending drugs to customers via home delivery services.

Drug trafficking is an organised crime. In fact, it dominates organised crime.
Nearly 40 per cent of criminal groups are engaged in drug trafficking.

As Europol’s recent SOCTA report shows, organised crime is a growing threat, undermining our societies. Operating like multinational businesses. With complex supply chains. Making at least 30 billion euro in drugs money every year.

Undermining our economies by infiltrating legitimate business.

Subverting our societies by spreading corruption. Drug criminals bribe their way across borders, through airports and harbours.

Spreading death and destruction. Drugs crime is the most violent of all organised crimes. Traffickers compete for markets. And commit arsons. Shootings. Bombings.

Killing innocent victims in the crossfire.

To fight this threat we need to cut the supply of drugs. By disrupting crime groups. Cutting off finances. Blocking supply routes in and out of Europe, supply by air, by rail and over water, offline and online. Dismantling drug production and processing.

Our main weapon is the strategy against organised crime I launched in April.

We will:

  • Boost police cooperation across borders.
  • We will speed up and simplify operational information exchange. For example on fingerprints and DNA and number plates.
  • Follow the money through financial investigations and asset recovery.
  • Fight corruption.
  • Promote digital innovation in law enforcement. Police must always be one step ahead of the criminals.

 

But we can only fight drugs as a criminal threat if we also understand drugs are a social issue and a healthcare issue.

That’s why the European Union is taking broad action based on the new EU Drugs Strategy and upcoming action plan.

Besides cutting supply we must also reduce the demand for drugs.

Through prevention.  By reaching out to vulnerable people. To people most at risk. Children, teenagers and young people. To help them resist drugs and live healthy lives.

Through early intervention. To prevent drug use from developing into addiction and disease. Not by blaming, but by caring and helping. Aided by society, schools, teachers, sports clubs.

We need to focus on female users. Who face specific challenges – pregnancy, childcare, domestic violence, a crime that has been increasing during the pandemic.

And we need to prevent drug deaths. In 2019, More than 5,000 people in the European Union died of an overdose.

So we need to do much much more.

In short, we need to help people stay away from drugs, step away from drugs, or to get the help and treatment they need, and we need to continue to fight the criminals.

We can only make policies, based on evidence.

As presented in today’s European Drug Report.

I want to thank warmly, warmly Alexis and his team at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for doing an excellent job.

Click here to watch the event.