Towards a stronger European response to drugs

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council
European Commission COM (2011) 689/2
October 25, 2011

With the Lisbon Treaty now in place, the European response to drugs needs to be strong and decisive, addressing both drug demand and drug supply. New legislation involving the European Parliament, and implemented by the Member States, will be subject to the scrutiny by the European Commission and ultimately the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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More needs to be done to address the drug problem. Action should take place where it is more effective, in full respect of subsidiarity. The EU action should be focused where it brings more added value. Member States are unable to contain the spread of drugs without effective cooperation: in the internal market goods, but also crime, move freely. If one Member State bans new psychoactive substances, traders open shops in Member States where the law is more permissive. Uncoordinated clamp-downs may force traffickers to move drug production sites to neighbouring countries or to shift trafficking routes, but these measures cannot disrupt trafficking sustainably.

Over the past 15 years, the European Commission has helped develop a comprehensive and balanced EU response to drugs, in the framework of the EU Drugs Strategy (2005-2012). The two main EU legal instruments in anti-drugs policy, one on drug trafficking and the other on the emergence of new drugs (new psychoactive substances), date respectively from 2004 and 2005. However, the past few years have brought fresh challenges: new ways of trafficking drugs and chemicals used for their manufacture ("drug precursors"), the rapid emergence of new drugs and innovative distribution channels for these new substances. In the 2010-2014 Stockholm Action Plan the European Commission committed itself to measures reinforcing protection against serious and organised crime.