The European Union and illicit drugs

03-01-2012

The EU has a central place on the world's map of illegal drug consumption and production. Whereas the use of ""established"" drugs has stabilised in the EU, drug control authorities have increasingly been struggling with the emergence of new psychoactive substances which reproduce the effects of illegal drugs. The UN has created an international system defining drugs of which the production and sale are prohibited. All EU Member States (MS) are parties to the relevant UN conventions. In the EU, drug policy remains a domain essentially reserved to national policies. However, the EU has been increasingly active with respect to both law enforcement and health-related issues. A new EU joint drug strategy will be adopted in 2012. The European Parliament was the first institution to address illicit drugs at EU level. It has however presented only limited sets of recommendations due to radical differences of opinion amongst MEPs. A 2004 resolution following the report by Giusto Catania, which critically assessed the EU joint strategy, seems not to have had an impact on the overall EU approach to drugs. Whereas MS have willingly cooperated in combating drug trafficking, that has not been the case for regulating drug use, which is addressed in contrasting ways throughout the EU. The Netherlands and Sweden represent the most liberal and the most restrictive ends of the political spectrum.

The EU has a central place on the world's map of illegal drug consumption and production. Whereas the use of ""established"" drugs has stabilised in the EU, drug control authorities have increasingly been struggling with the emergence of new psychoactive substances which reproduce the effects of illegal drugs. The UN has created an international system defining drugs of which the production and sale are prohibited. All EU Member States (MS) are parties to the relevant UN conventions. In the EU, drug policy remains a domain essentially reserved to national policies. However, the EU has been increasingly active with respect to both law enforcement and health-related issues. A new EU joint drug strategy will be adopted in 2012. The European Parliament was the first institution to address illicit drugs at EU level. It has however presented only limited sets of recommendations due to radical differences of opinion amongst MEPs. A 2004 resolution following the report by Giusto Catania, which critically assessed the EU joint strategy, seems not to have had an impact on the overall EU approach to drugs. Whereas MS have willingly cooperated in combating drug trafficking, that has not been the case for regulating drug use, which is addressed in contrasting ways throughout the EU. The Netherlands and Sweden represent the most liberal and the most restrictive ends of the political spectrum.