EU Commissioner Avramopoulos: Conclusions of 2017 European Drug Report are worrying

The conclusions of the European Drug Report for 2017 are worrying for Europe, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship said on Monday at the Symposium on “The contribution of Social Cohesion and Solidarity in preventing drug use.”

“For the third year in a row, overdose deaths are on the rise, while new very harmful and powerful synthetic opioids are appearing on the market. Only small quantities are needed to produce many thousands of potent doses,” he said and added:

According to Europol’s data, the European drug market generates, at least, the enormous amount of 24 billion euro per year. This money ends up in the pockets of criminal groups that exploit technology to promote their illegal activity and increase their profits. As you know, the competence for public health issues, including drugs, lies with the Member States. The role of the European Union is to support and complement the actions of Member States in their policies against drugs.

The Commissioner said that “our objective is not only to protect the health of our citizens but also to fight against organised crime.”

Avramopoulos noted that “we have a modern and comprehensive European Strategy against Drugs. A few months ago we presented an interim evaluation of our Strategy, after extensive consultation with Member States and stakeholders. Last week, the Council adopted the new EU Action Plan on Drugs for the period 2017-2020, largely based on the proposal that I had presented to the Member States. It is an updated Action Plan which builds on existing actions and identifies new areas of intervention. We focus, inter alia, on prevention, particularly as regards the younger ages, through the use of new technologies and the internet. Moreover, we introduce new actions to examine possible links between drug traffickers and terrorist financing networks, migrants smuggling and trafficking in human beings.”

Following a proposal of the European Commission, an agreement with the European Parliament and the Council was reached on a new legislative framework for new psychoactive substances, after years of negotiations, he said adding that now, we will be able to act faster and more effectively at European and national level against these dangerous substances.

The European Union is also in the lead in the worldwide fight against drugs together with global partners, Avramopoulos stated and added:

“We work within the framework of the UN and through our bilateral cooperation with our strategic partners, like the US, and we are committed to intensify our efforts, in order to effectively identify and dismantle drug trafficking networks. A few days ago I had the opportunity to raise the issue in the EU-US Ministerial meeting on Justice and Home Affairs in Malta. Our country, due to its geographical location, has a special position in the world map of international drug trafficking of narcotic substances originating from Asian and South American countries. This is why the cooperation of European law enforcement authorities under the coordination of Europol is crucial.”