I’m happy to be here at this launch of the European Drug Report, even if only virtually.
I very much look forward to travelling to Lisbon to meet you in person at the Drugs Agency, as soon as that is possible.
The European Drug Report gives me what I need as Commissioner to act.
You wrote this report under difficult covid conditions.
We are not the only ones, who live and work, under covid conditions.
So do the drug smugglers and drug pushers, who traffic and sell drugs.
So do the users, who buy drugs and take drugs.
The pandemic also affected the health care and drug services, that help addicts. Some of them were forced to close. So that addicts could not get the help they need.
On the plus side, we see important innovations in public health. Such as remote care for patients, or the use of apps to stay in touch with drug users.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the supply of drugs dropped. In some Member States that led to an increase in violent crime,
People started to use different and more potent drugs.
Organised crime groups quickly adapted and found new business models. Despite the lockdown, despite closed borders, despite restrictions on people leaving their homes, drug criminals found ways to deliver drugs to their clients.
When criminals innovate and adapt, law enforcement cannot stay behind. The intelligence the Drugs Agency provides, will help us to stay one step ahead.
You point out the trends in you report.
Police are capturing large shipments of drugs. Showing that criminals are infiltrating legitimate supply chains and large ports.
Europe’s cocaine and heroin problem is getting worse. Last year police seized 181 tonnes of cocaine, in 110,000 actions – more than ever before. The amount of heroine captured nearly doubled.
Europe is also increasingly a producer of synthetic drugs, like MDMA.
All in all: this report shows illicit drugs remain a threat to the health and security of EU citizens.
Sometimes people ask me: why do you want to fight drugs trafficking so badly? What does it matter, if people do some drugs?
I’ll tell you why it matters.
Drugs are not only a security threat but also a health threat.
Thousands of Europeans die of overdoses each year. Over a million receive treatment for substance abuse.
Where there’s drugs, there’s often also guns, violent crime, and murder.
Where there’s drug crime, there’s organised crime. 5,000 organised crime groups are active in Europe. More than one third are involved in drugs.
The drug trade bankrolls organised crime. At 30 billion euro a year, the illegal drug trade is the largest criminal market in the European Union.
Where there’s that kind of money, criminals buy weapons. They buy people, they buy power.
And that’s how drug crime undermines our society and our democracy.
That’s why this summer, I launched the EU Agenda on Drugs.
To boost the fight against drug smuggling and production.
To improve prevention and raise awareness about the harm drugs cause.
To help people who become addicted or sick.
I will now work with the Parliament and Council, to approve these proposals.
One thing is certain: I could never have prepared these proposals, without the excellent work, of the Drugs Agency. So I thank you for that.
I fully recommend the excellent European Drug Report 2020. It’s an essential source of reference, data and information. I will certainly make use of it, myself.
I congratulate you, on this very useful and informative report.