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REPORT     ***I
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21 February 2003
PE 319.257 A5-0038/2003
on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on drug precursors
(COM(2002) 494 – C5‑0415/2002 – 2002/0217(COD))
Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs
Rapporteur: Hubert Pirker
PROCEDURAL PAGE
 DRAFT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 MINORITY OPINION
 OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE ENVIRONMENT, PUBLIC HEALTH AND CONSUMER POLICY

PROCEDURAL PAGE

By letter of 10 September 2002 the Commission submitted to Parliament, pursuant to Article 251(2) and Article 95 of the EC Treaty, the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on drug precursors (COM(2002) 494 – 2002/0217(COD)).

At the sitting of 9 October 2002 the President of Parliament announced that he had referred the proposal to the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs as the committee responsible and the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy for their opinions (C5-0415/2002).

The Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs had appointed Hubert Pirker rapporteur at its meeting of 2 October 2002.

The committee considered the Commission proposal and draft report at its meetings of 21 January 2003 and 18 February 2003.

At the latter meeting it adopted the draft legislative resolution by 30 votes to 2, with no abstentions.

The following were present for the vote: Jorge Salvador Hernández Mollar, chairman; Robert J.E. Evans and Giacomo Santini, vice-chairmen; Hubert Pirker, rapporteur; Johanna L.A. Boogerd-Quaak (for Francesco Rutelli, pursuant to Rule 153(2)), Alima Boumediene-Thiery, Kathalijne Maria Buitenweg (for Patsy Sörensen), Michael Cashman, Ozan Ceyhun, Carlos Coelho, Gérard M.J. Deprez, Adeline Hazan, Timothy Kirkhope, Eva Klamt, Ole Krarup, Alain Krivine (for Fodé Sylla), Baroness Sarah Ludford, Luís Marinho (for Carmen Cerdeira Morterero), Manuel Medina Ortega (for Elena Ornella Paciotti), Hartmut Nassauer, Bill Newton Dunn, Marcelino Oreja Arburúa, Bernd Posselt, Martine Roure, Gerhard Schmid, Ilka Schröder, Joke Swiebel, Anna Terrón i Cusí, Maurizio Turco, Christian Ulrik von Boetticher and Olga Zrihen Zaari (for Walter Veltroni).

The opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy is attached; the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market decided on 8 October 2002 not to deliver an opinion.

The report was tabled on 21 February 2003.


DRAFT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on drug precursors (COM(2002) 494 – C5‑0415/2002 – 2002/0217(COD))

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2002) 494(1)),

–   having regard to Article 251(2) and Article 95 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C5‑0415/2002),

–   having regard to Rule 67 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy (A5‑0038/2003),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.   Asks for the matter to be referred to it again, should the Commission intend to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendments by Parliament
Amendment 1
Recital 4 a (new)
 

(4a)   The transformation of the current Directive into a Regulation becomes especially important in the context of enlargement of the European Union where each modification of the Directive and its annexes would have triggered national implementation measures in 25 Member States.

Justification

This remark is included in the Explanatory Memorandum of the Commission proposal. As it constitutes a relevant justification for the proposal, it should be repeated in the recitals.

Amendment 2
Article 9, paragraph 2, point b

b.   a regularly updated list of non-scheduled substances commonly used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to enable industry to monitor on a voluntary basis the trade in such substances;

b.   an annually updated list of non-scheduled substances commonly used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to enable industry to monitor on a voluntary basis the trade in such substances;

Justification

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 3
Article 16

Article 16

Article 16

Information about measures taken by Member States

Information about measures taken by Member States

Each Member State shall inform the Commission of the measures it takes pursuant to this Regulation.

Each Member State shall inform the Commission annually of the measures it takes pursuant to this Regulation.

The Commission shall communicate this information to the other Member States.

The Commission shall communicate this information to the other Member States. It shall evaluate the implementation of the Regulation three years after its entry into force.

Justification

It is vitally important to have clear information about the implementation of this Regulation. Therefore, Member States should inform the Commission annually of the measures taken. Three years after the entry into force of the Regulation, the Commission should evaluate how successful implementation has been in the Member States.

(1)Not yet published in the OJ.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Introduction

After cannabis (hashish, marijuana, grass), synthetic drugs are the kind consumed in the greatest quantities(1). The 2001 annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) indicates that drug-yielding plants are being grown on a decreasing scale, but the production of and trade in synthetic drugs are continuing to rise. Europe is described as a ‘major source’ of illicitly manufactured synthetic drugs. According to data compiled in 1999 by the Swiss Federal Criminal Investigation Office, the Netherlands alone accounts for more than 50% of world production, and Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Poland are identified as key manufacturing centres of the future. This assessment is essentially in line with the findings of the Lisbon-based drugs monitoring centre, which also refers to illicit manufacturing operations in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the Baltic States(2). The International Narcotics Control Board is particularly worried about the fact that synthetic drugs are easily obtainable all over Europe.

Combating semi-synthetic and synthetic drugs through precursor control

Semi-synthetic drugs such as cocaine and heroin are made by chemical processes applied to plant material, whereas synthetic drugs such as speed, LSD, angel dust, or Ecstasy are produced in the laboratory entirely by chemical processes. Chemical precursors are needed in every instance to manufacture these substances. However, since precursors are not used purely for illicit drug production, but also have legal applications, especially in the manufacture of medicines, they cannot simply be banned. In this case the only way to combat drugs lies in effective precursor control.

Existing precursor control arrangements

Both the UN and the European Union are endeavouring to ensure that precursors are not misused for illicit drug production. Measures for that purpose have been laid down at international level in the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

To implement the Convention, the Union has adopted the following precursor control instruments:

- Council Regulation (EEC) No 3677/90 of 13 December 1990 laying down measures to be taken to discourage the diversion of certain substances to the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, governing supervision of trade in 22 precursors between Member States and non-member countries, and
- Council Directive 92/109/EEC of 14 December 1992 on the manufacture and the placing on the market of certain substances used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which provides for corresponding arrangements for the internal market.

Shortcomings of the existing arrangements

The legal instrument employed to oversee trade with non-member countries has been a regulation, whereas the internal market has been monitored under a directive, and this fact has led to shortcomings. When the annexes to the two instruments listing the precursors concerned were amended at the same time, the amendments to the regulation became applicable simultaneously in all the Member States a few days after they were published. On the other hand, transposition time is allowed for the corresponding amendments to the directive, and, in view of the Member States’ approval procedures, the outcome has been lengthy delays. This situation is less than satisfactory. Bearing in mind especially that ten applicant countries are preparing to join the Union, simplification seems highly desirable.

Furthermore, the existing arrangements have been found wanting where combating synthetic drugs is concerned. Out of the 22 scheduled substances identified by the Union so far, 8 are also used as precursors of synthetic drugs. In addition to these, however, many other known substances (the figure cited varies between 250 and 429, depending on the source) can likewise be used as precursors for the manufacture of amphetamines. Substances in this latter category have to date not been encompassed within any Community-wide monitoring system.

The 1998 Commission proposal to amend Directive 92/109/EEC

The Commission submitted a proposal to amend Directive 92/109/EEC back in 1998(3). The idea was to establish cooperation with industry and traders with a view to introducing flexible control of precursors not classed at that time as scheduled substances. The Commission maintained that the desired aim would not be achieved by extending the existing legal instrument as it stood to cover other synthetic drug precursors, because there were too many precursors on the market and these could, moreover, easily be replaced by or mixed with other substances. To enforce the stringent control arrangements hitherto applied to the 22 (now 23) substances listed in the above-mentioned 1988 UN Convention would jeopardise the efficiency of the entire system and hamper fruitful cooperation between operators and the Community authorities.

The current proposal

The proposal now on the table is intended to remedy both of the shortcomings discussed above.

-   The directive is to be replaced by a regulation.

-   The substantive additions already provided for in proposal COM(1998) 22 are being put forward again. The projected close cooperation between the competent authorities and operators is to be organised in such a way that the latter will be required to notify the former immediately of any unusual orders or transactions. Competent authorities will be empowered to obtain information about any orders for or transactions involving scheduled substances and enter the business premises of operators with a view to gathering evidence of irregularities.

Cooperation between authorities and operators is to be extended to cover precursors not scheduled so far. The Commission will have the task of drawing up guidelines specifying how to recognise and notify suspect transactions and a list, to be updated at regular intervals, of non-scheduled substances commonly used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The industry will thus be in a position to monitor trade in such substances on a voluntary basis.

Assessment of the Commission proposal

The rapporteur welcomes the Commission proposal. In his report on proposal COM(1998) 22(4) he already made the point that, because the substances concerned covered such a large and varied range, precursor control was one area in particular need of flexible monitoring arrangements, for synthetic drugs can be synthesised by different processes from different precursors. Moreover, the substances used vary from one region to another and can change all the time.

Since these substances are also used for lawful purposes but legal trade should not be impeded to excess, the proposed control arrangement, based first and foremost on cooperation between authorities and operators, seems the most appropriate option. The fact that the list of non-scheduled substances is to be regularly reviewed will ensure that monitoring will be confined to those substances actually used for drug production. In his last report the rapporteur pointed out that systems along the above lines were already being successfully implemented in several Member States (for example Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and the United Kingdom).

Another welcome feature is that the directive is to be converted into a regulation, thus making for rapid, flexible consistent action.

The rapporteur supports the Commission proposal as amended and recommends adoption of the amended proposal by the committee.

(1)In the period from 1998 to 2001, 147.4 million people in the world took cannabis, 33.4 million took amphetamines, and 7 million took Ecstasy (UNODCCP, Global Illicit Drug Trends 2002, 213).
(2)European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2002 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in the European Union and Norway, 27, and Report on the drug situation in the candidate CEECs (2002), 46.
(3)COM(1998) 22.
(4)A4-0367/1998 of 16 October 1998.


MINORITY OPINION

of Ilka Schröder, Alain Krivine, Maurizio Turco, Ole Krarup and Marco Cappato

on the Pirker report on drug precursors (PE 319.257)

The idea behind the Regulation sounds, on the face of it, logical: in order to manufacture drugs, certain chemicals are needed; through watertight controls on the manufacture and trading of precursors, it would be possible, in theory, to stop the production of drugs. However, the idea will not work in practice. Firstly, worldwide trade would have to be subject to watertight control, which would hugely impede the chemical industry. Secondly, some producers would simply obtain the necessary substances from other countries. The aim of the Regulation will therefore never be achieved. A far more serious problem is the fact that Article 10 empowers the authorities, without restriction, to enter operators’ business premises, at any time and without a warrant from the courts, ‘in order to obtain evidence of irregularities’. Requiring businesses to assist the police pursuant to the obligation to notify laid down in Article 8 is similarly questionable. Both measures represent a further step in the direction of a police state.

Even from a prohibitionist point of view, the Regulation is a completely ineffective way of combating the worldwide trade in drugs. From our point of view, it is a further element of a police state and should for that reason be rejected.


OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE ENVIRONMENT, PUBLIC HEALTH AND CONSUMER POLICY

29 January 2003

for the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on drug precursors

(COM(2002) 494 – C5‑0415/2002 – 2002/0217(COD))

Draftsman: Minerva Melpomeni Malliori

PROCEDURE

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy appointed Minerva Melpomeni Malliori draftsman at its meeting of 2 October 2002.

It considered the draft opinion at its meetings of 21 and 28 January 2003.

At the last meeting it adopted the following amendments unanimously.

The following were present for the vote: Caroline F. Jackson, chairman; Mauro Nobilia and Anneli Hulthén, vice-chairmen; Minerva Melpomeni Malliori, rapporteur; María del Pilar Ayuso González, Emmanouil Bakopoulos (for Pernille Frahm), Hans Blokland, John Bowis, Dorette Corbey, Avril Doyle, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Cristina García-Orcoyen Tormo, Laura González Álvarez, Robert Goodwill, Françoise Grossetête, Cristina Gutiérrez Cortines, Jutta D. Haug (for Anne Ferreira), Hedwig Keppelhoff-Wiechert (for Marialiese Flemming), Eija-Riitta Anneli Korhola, Bernd Lange, Jules Maaten, Patricia McKenna, Eluned Morgan (for Catherine Stihler), Emilia Franziska Müller, Rosemarie Müller, Riitta Myller, Marit Paulsen, Frédérique Ries, Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, Guido Sacconi, Giacomo Santini (for Giuseppe Nisticò), Karin Scheele, Inger Schörling, María Sornosa Martínez, Robert William Sturdy (for Peter Liese), Nicole Thomas-Mauro, Kathleen Van Brempt and Peder Wachtmeister.

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

Drug precursors are chemicals that can be used in the production of both legal preparations and illegal drugs, such as heroine and cocaine. The Draftsman welcomes the Commission proposal for a Regulation on drug precursors, which will replace Directive 92/109/EEC on the surveillance of their trade in the internal market, as amended by directives 93/46 and 2001/8. It will repeal Commission Regulations (EC) 1485/96 and 1533/2000. The new Regulation will ensure harmonised implementation measures throughout the EU in line with the amended Regulation 3677/90 on surveillance of the trade in precursors between Member States and third countries.

Issues relating to the trade of drug precursors are highly sensitive. Under the present Directive, the surveillance of non-scheduled substances has been fairly inefficient in the Internal Market.

It is very important that the proposal clearly defines the scheduled substances. The proposal also makes reference to the non-scheduled substances, which has not been the case until now in the previous Directive. The Draftsman welcomes the reclassification of Potassium permanganate in Category 2 according to Regulation 1232/2002 that repealed the annexes of Regulation 3677/90.

The proposed Regulation provides guidelines for the collaboration between the competent authorities of the Member States, the operators and the chemical industry, on how to recognise and notify the relevant authorities of suspicious transactions and how to monitor the trade in non-scheduled substances commonly used in the illicit manufacturing of narcotic drugs. The guidelines will help the industry to monitor more efficiently the legal use and the diversion of these substances. Under Article 4, operators supplying scheduled substances must obtain from the customer a separate declaration on the intended use of each substance. Annex III contains model declarations relating to individual and multiple transactions. Systematic and accurate use of these declarations will cut down the opportunities for illicit trade. Furthermore a new paragraph 4 introduces safer surveillance measures for category 1 substances.

The proof of this piece of legislation, as with all legislation, will be in the implementation. According to Article 16, Member States must inform the Commission about the measures taken. This will give us an opportunity to assess the real impact of this Regulation. It remains to be seen if the harmonisation of legislation will provide a solid and sustainable way of preventing the diversion of precursors to the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

AMENDMENTS

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy calls on the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its report:

Text proposed by the Commission(1)   Amendments by Parliament
Amendment 1
Recital 4 a (new)
 

(4a)   The transformation of the current Directive into a Regulation becomes especially important in the context of enlargement of the European Union where each modification of the Directive and its annexes would have triggered national implementation measures in 25 Member States.

Justification

This remark is included in the Explanatory Memorandum of the Commission proposal. As it constitutes a relevant justification for the proposal, it should be repeated in the recitals.

Amendment 2
Recital 12

(12)   A significant number of other substances, many of them traded legally in large quantities, have been identified as precursors to the illicit manufacture of synthetic drugs. To subject these substances to the same strict controls as those listed in the Annex would present an unnecessary obstacle to trade involving licences to operate and documentation of transactions. Therefore, a more flexible mechanism at Community level should be established whereby the competent authorities in the Member States are notified of such transactions.

(12)   A significant number of other substances, many of them traded legally in large quantities, have been identified as precursors to the illicit manufacture of synthetic drugs. A list of these will be brought forward by the Commission. To subject these substances to the same strict controls as those listed in the Annex could present an unnecessary obstacle to trade involving licences to operate and documentation of transactions. Therefore, a more flexible mechanism at Community level should be established whereby the competent authorities in the Member States are notified of such transactions. Nevertheless any such substance which is identified as being used in significant quantities in the illicit manufacture of synthetic drugs may be proposed for addition to Annex II.

Justification

If there is an identified and significant number of other substances which are being used in the manufacture of illicit synthetic drugs, there needs to be a sharpening of policy with regard to the monitoring and, when necessary, transfer of such items to the Annex II schedule.

Amendment 3
Recital 13 a (new)
 

(13a)   Because the manufacture of precursors includes a significant volume in non-accession Eastern European countries, close liaison is desirable with the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe.

Justification

The Pompidou Group has been involved some years in the monitoring of Eastern European precursor production and their experience should be tapped.

Amendment 4
Article 9, paragraph 2, point b

b.   a regularly updated list of non-scheduled substances commonly used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to enable industry to monitor on a voluntary basis the trade in such substances;

b.   an annually updated list of non-scheduled substances commonly used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to enable industry to monitor on a voluntary basis the trade in such substances;

Justification

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 5
Article 9, paragraph 2, point b a (new)
 

ba.   notification of any such substances it proposes to transfer to the scheduled list in Annex II;

Justification

If there is an identified and significant number of other substances which are being used in the manufacture of illicit synthetic drugs, there needs to be a sharpening of policy with regard to the monitoring and, when necessary, transfer of such items to the Annex II schedule.

Amendment 6
Article 13, paragraph 1

1.   To permit any necessary adjustments to the arrangements for monitoring trade in scheduled substances and non scheduled substances, the competent authorities in each Member State shall each year communicate to the Commission all relevant information on the implementation of the monitoring measures laid down in this Regulation, in particular as regards substances used for the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances and methods of diversion and illicit manufacture.

1.   To permit any necessary adjustments to the arrangements for monitoring and controlling trade in scheduled substances and non scheduled substances, the competent authorities in each Member State shall each year communicate to the Commission all relevant information on the implementation of the monitoring and control measures laid down in this Regulation, in particular as regards substances used for the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances and methods of diversion and illicit manufacture.

Justification

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 7
Article 16

Article 16

Article 16

Information about measures taken by Member States

Information about measures taken by Member States

Each Member State shall inform the Commission of the measures it takes pursuant to this Regulation.

Each Member State shall inform the Commission annually of the measures it takes pursuant to this Regulation.

The Commission shall communicate this information to the other Member States.

The Commission shall communicate this information to the other Member States. It shall evaluate the implementation of the Regulation three years after its entry into force.

Justification

It is vitally important to have clear information about the implementation of this Regulation. Therefore, Member States should inform the Commission annually of the measures taken. Three years after the entry into force of the Regulation, the Commission should evaluate how successful implementation has been in the Member States.

(1)OJ C not yet published.

Last updated: 3 March 2003Legal notice