Brussels, 6 June 2019
I am pleased to be here with you today to launch this year’s edition of the European Drug Report.
The report shows again that tackling drugs and drug addiction is a complex challenge. The nature, availability and addiction to drugs are a constantly evolving, multi-faceted threat to our citizens, our youth, and our societies overall. Drugs affect the lives of millions around the world.
The drug situation is worsening in many parts of the world and, sadly, the European Union is no exception. This year’s report presents a worrying picture: There is a record level of illicit drug seizures.
On the one hand, this shows that law enforcement is doing a good job. On the other, it also shows how many people can access drugs. We see this in particular as regards the availability and distribution of cocaine.
Drug delivery is more and more “digitalised” with new distribution channels emerging, including over the internet, social media, or over encrypted messaging apps. These technological developments, exploited by vendors, make tackling drug availability more difficult.
Heroin is another common and illicit opioid on the market in Europe where seizures are increasing.
In terms of Cannabis, the report shows that in 2017 for example, nearly 18 million Europeans had tried the drug, and nearly 1 percent of European adults use it on a daily or near-daily basis.
These are just some of the trends found in this year’s report, and Alexis will provide you with more details on the main findings. But it’s not only about the data. It’s also about how we act, and what we can do to prevent the threats linked to drugs.
At the EU level, I can say that our efforts are starting to bear fruit. The latest Action Plan on Drugs and the legislation we adopted on new psychoactive substances provide a strengthened response to the newly-emerging health and security challenges in the area of illicit drug use and trafficking.
The number of new drugs appearing on the European market is slowing down, because we are implementing EU-wide rules to ban new psychoactive substances more effectively. In 2018, 55 new psychoactive substances were detected in the EU for the first time, bringing the total number monitored by our EU Drugs Agency to over 730.
Our work with our international partners is starting to gain traction, for example with the US, where our cooperation has led recently to the closure of the second largest marketplace on the Darknet: the Wall Street Market.
The widespread use of smartphones also means that mobile health apps are emerging. This has the potential to expand the reach of drug-related healthcare providers.
Finally, we have recently concluded and published the evaluation of the EU Drugs Agency. The evaluation confirmed that the Agency continues to be recognised as a true hub of scientific excellence in Europe and internationally, helping us make more informed and more effective policies to counter the threatsand harms associated with drug use and abuse.
I would like to congratulate Alexis and his staff for their continued excellent work.
We have no time to spare. We need to show determination and commitment. We should strengthen our fight against drugs in all its aspects. For our youth, our citizens, our society.