New EU report on the impact of EU drug markets on society: “The drug market is motivated by profit and power”

New EU report on the impact of EU drug markets on society: “The drug market is motivated by profit and power”

Europeans spend at least €24 billion on illicit drugs each year, making it one of the main profit-generating activities for organised criminals in Europe.

This emerges from the 2016 EU Drug Markets Report, published on 5 April by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)and Europol.

The report provides an analysis of the EU illicit drug market, covering the trends along the supply chain from production and trafficking to marketing, distribution and consumption. It also analyses the considerable costs of these markets for society including their impact on businesses, government institutions, neighbourhoods, families, individuals and the environment.

Presenting the report’s findings DimitrisAvramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenshipsaid:"Today’s drug business criminals are quick to exploit and harm global flows of transport, goods and people, while posing a threat to public health. They use new technology and the internet, the growth of global trade and commercial infrastructure to perform their criminal activities rapidly across international borders.”

He also said that “In addition, the instability in regions neighbouring the EU could have potentially profound effects on the drug market in Europe. This valuable report explores the links to other criminal activities and how the illicit income from the drug trade can fund migrant smuggling and terrorism, and undermine international development efforts."

AlexisGoosdeel, EMCDDA Director, added "The EU drug market is driven by two simple motives: profit and power. Understanding this, and the wider impacts of drug markets on society, is critical if we are to reduce drug-related harm. This knowledge is essential for the development of new strategies for tackling crime and safeguarding the health, security and prosperity of our citizens”.

The report describes a market which is constantly evolving, adaptable and opportunistic, posing a key challenge for policy-makers, law-enforcement agencies and public health.

According to the report coordinated action at EU level can make a difference in tackling the illicit drugs trade, and it outlines a comprehensive range of recommendations and action points in key areas to inform future policies and initiatives.

The EU Drugs Strategy (2013–20) and Action Plan (2013–16) provide a framework for addressing illicit drugs in the EU, complementing Member States’ national strategies.

Three main themes in the report

  • Increasing links between drug trafficking and other forms of crime: organised crime groups involved in the drug market are diversifying across multiple drugs, engaging in other forms of criminality including terrorism, forming alliances across ethnic and geographical borders and harnessing specialist expertise.
  • Accelerated rate of change in the drug market due to globalisation and technology: criminal groups are quick to exploit opportunities provided by easier access to information, the internet and the growth in international trade.
  • Geographical concentration of groups specialised in drug related crimes:drug production or trafficking are concentrated in specific geographical locations, within Europe and elsewhere; some are long established, while new zones are also emerging (e.g. heroin trafficking through the Southern Caucasus).

The Brussels Times (Source: The European Commission)

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