• EN

Frequently asked questions


Who we are

What is an EU agency?

An EU agency is a specialised and decentralised body within the EU administration. EU agencies are scattered around Europe in an attempt to have EU bodies in places other than Brussels, Luxembourg or Strasbourg. The EU agencies typically work with tasks of a legal, technical and/or scientific nature. More information on the agencies of the EU >>

top of page

What is the EMCDDA?

The EMCDDA is the EU drugs agency. The EMCDDA collects, analyses and disseminates drug-related information in the European Union. It publishes its findings online and in various kinds of publications which are provided to policymakers, practitioners, and the general public. More >>

top of page

Why is the EMCDDA based in Lisbon?

The locations of EU agencies are decided by the European Council. In the case of the EMCDDA, the European Council decided at its meeting on 29 October 1993 in Brussels, that the EMCDDA should be located in Lisbon.

top of page

How do I get to the EMCDDA?

The EMCDDA is located in Cais do Sodré, 1249-289 Lisbon, Portugal. The train, metro and bus station is just next to the EMCDDA building. More >>

top of page

How many people work for the EMCDDA?

There are currently 100 staff members working for the EMCDDA, if we consider the three categories of staff altogether (officials, temporary agents and contract staff).

top of page

What is the annual budget of the EMCDDA?

The total budget for the EMCDDA in 2011 is EUR 15.4 million. More >>

top of page

What is the value of a European monitoring centre?

The value of the EMCDDA is that it has made it possible to meaningfully compare drug-related data and information across 28 Member States. That was not the case before the establishment of the EMCDDA. The EMCDDA is constantly pursuing ways of improving comparability and data quality.

top of page

Task and mission

What are the EMCDDA's objectives?

As stated in the EMCDDA's founding and recast regulation, its objective is to provide the Community and its Member States with factual, objective, reliable and comparable information at European level concerning drugs and drug addiction and their consequences.

top of page

Do you work to prevent drug use?

The EMCDDA is a drug information agency and does not directly work to prevent drug use. However, it is the hope of the EMCDDA that by providing better quality and comparable data to policymakers, it can contribute to better decision-making which will reduce drug use.

top of page

Does the EMCDDA cooperate with non-EU countries?

Yes. The EMCDDA’s network of national focal points (NFPs) are set up not only in the 28 EU Member States, but also Norway and candidate countries.

top of page

The EMCDDA and me

How can I work for the EMCDDA?

You can only work at the EMCDDA by applying to a call for applications launched by the EMCDDA. In order to keep informed on the published vacancies, please regularly visit the ‘Job vacancies’ section of the EMCDDA website. In the same section, you will be able to access the ‘Guidelines on recruitment at the EMCDDA’ to better know how recruitment works and to obtain some helpful information on how the EMCDDA will process your personal data in the context of a recruitment procedure. Of course, you can always contact the EMCDDA Human Resources Management Sector for further information on recruitment at the following address: Paola.Parga[a]emcdda.europa.eu.

top of page

Can you add a link to my site? Can we trade links?

As a general rule, the EMCDDA does not publish links to external websites. You are of course welcome to link to the EMCDDA website from your own website and we are also happy to receive links to sites which you feel may be of interest to us.

top of page

Can the EMCDDA support my project logistically or financially?

The EMCDDA is an Information agency set up to provide the Community and its Member States with factual, objective, reliable and comparable information, at European level, concerning drugs and drug addiction and their consequences. Whereas the agency does launch its own projects to improve its data and the accuracy of the data, it does not provide financial nor logistical support to other projects, be it national-level or regional-level projects.

top of page

Am I allowed to quote and use data and information that is published by the EMCDDA?

EMCDDA data and information can be reproduced and cited, provided there is a clear indication of the source. More >>

top of page

How can I order publications?

You can find a full set of EMCDDA publications online in the publications database (PDF format).

The majority of EMCDDA publications can be ordered in print via EU Bookshop. A direct link to the corresponding bookshop page is available under each publication's details.

If you have any problems finding a certain publication, please contact us under publications[a]emcdda.europa.eu.

top of page

Where can I find content in other languages on your website?

top of page

Where can I find country-specific information on the drug situation?

The EMCDDA Country overviews provide a structured synopsis of the trends and characteristics of national drug problems. They consist of a summary of the national drug situation, key statistics at a glance and a barometer showing the drug use prevalence position of each country.

The National reports, commissioned each year by the EMCDDA and produced by the national focal points of the Reitox network, draw an overall picture of the drug phenomenon at national level in each EU Member State. If this does not meet your information needs, you can go to the websites of the national focal points.

More on country-by-country information >>

top of page

How do I subscribe to EMCDDA news or publications?

There are a number of ways to subscribe to EMCDDA news and publications. A simple way of keeping up with the latest news from the EMCDDA (including announcements of new publications) is to subscribe to our RSS feed.

You can also subscribe to distribution lists for printed publications. More >>

top of page

The EU and the drug phenomenon

What are the competences of the EU in the field of drugs under the Lisbon Treaty?

The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, provides the Union with simplified working methods and voting rules, streamlined and modernised institutions, fit for an EU of 28 Member States. Two articles explicitly mention drugs: Article 83 TFEU and Article 168 TFEU. Pursuant to Article 83, the EU can approximate the definition of drug trafficking offences and the related sanctions thereof. According to Article 168, the EU shall complement the Member States’ action in reducing drugs- related health harms, including action on information and prevention, and encourage cooperation between them. The Commission, in close contact with the Member States, may take initiatives aimed at establishing guidelines and indicators, organise exchange of best practice and prepare periodic monitoring and evaluation.
The Treaty of Lisbon also covers illicit drugs indirectly in other policy fields, for example trade or internal market.

top of page

Who are the main actors of EU drugs policy?

Key players at EU level are the Council of the European Union (Member States), the European Commission and the European Parliament. EU agencies such as the EMCDDA and Europol play a crucial role, as do the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Eurojust.

For more information, see:

top of page

What are the main features of the ‘European approach on drugs’?

The EU has, since the 1990s, developed a ‘European approach on drugs’ which is reflected in the EU drugs strategies and drug action plans. This approach is comprehensive and multidisciplinary, focusing simultaneously on two pillars: drug- demand reduction and drug-supply reduction, as well as on three cross-cutting themes: international cooperation, coordination and information, and evaluation and research.

EU Drugs Strategy (2013-20) >>

top of page

What is meant by drug demand reduction?

Drug-demand reduction covers a broad range of measures to address substance use. It includes prevention measures for the general public or for specific target groups. It also implies drug treatment for those who have developed drug dependence. Harm reduction includes specific measures to prevent and reduce the spread of blood-borne infectious diseases and avoid drug-related deaths, but also aims to increase the number of drug users that receive health and social care. Rehabilitation and reintegration are aimed at bringing (dependent) drug users back into society, in particular those who have been socially marginalised and excluded. 

top of page

What is meant by drug supply reduction?

The EU action on drug-supply reduction aims at preventing and reducing drug- related crimes, including production and trafficking of drugs. EU Member States’ law enforcement agencies cooperate in the fight against drug production and trafficking by carrying out joint investigations or customs operations. At EU level, policies on anti- money laundering and confiscation of assets also help combat drug-related crime. In recent years, Member States and the Commission have increasingly worked together to disrupt drug trafficking along major supply routes to Europe, in particular from Latin America via West Africa and from Afghanistan via Central Asia, Russia and the Western Balkans.

top of page

Why are the EU drugs action plans important?

The EU drugs action plans are the instruments through which the EU drugs strategy is implemented. They contain specific objectives, actions and indicators covering all relevant policy areas. The action plan serves as a coordinating tool providing the framework for cooperation or joint action on illicit drugs in the EU. Despite the differences in approaches to illicit drugs, cultural traditions and policy responses, drug policies in the EU Member States are increasingly converging, while still respecting the principle of ‘Unity in diversity’.

European Commission: drug control policy >>

top of page

Are the EU drugs action plans evaluated? How?

The EU action plans on drugs are evaluated. In 2008, the Commission evaluated the EU drugs action plan 2005–08 — the first action plan implementing the EU drugs strategy for 2005–12. By 2012, the EU drugs strategy and the EU drugs action plan 2009–12 will also be subject to an independent evaluation.

The Commission also publishes an annual assessment of the implementation of the action plan. This involves gathering information on progress to date from the EU Member States, the EMCDDA and Europol. To assess the impact of the EU’s policy on drugs in the Member States, the evaluations also include surveys that take into account developments at national level.

European Commission: drug control policy >>

top of page

How does the EU deal with precursors?

Drug producers need chemicals called ‘precursors’ to manufacture illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy or amphetamines. There is no production of many illicit drugs without drug precursors. Many of these drug precursors have wide legitimate uses (e.g. in the synthesis of plastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, perfumes, detergents or aromas), but can be diverted from the licit distribution channels.

The EU and all EU Member States are Contracting Parties to Article 12 of the UN 1988 Convention. Legislation on the prevention of diversion of drug precursors from the trade between the EU and third countries as well as intra-EU trade is adopted at EU level and is directly applicable in the EU Member States. By enforcing the EU drug precursor legislation (Council Regulation (EC) No 111/2005; Regulation (EC) No 273/2004; Commission Regulation (EC) No 1277/2005), the EU strives to prevent the diversion of drug precursors through the control and monitoring of their legitimate trade. This involves not only close cooperation between the competent national authorities (notably health, police and customs agencies) but also close cooperation with the private sector and third countries.

Some important drug precursors are produced in third countries. Therefore, the EU is increasingly entering into agreements with the countries concerned to help prevent the diversion of drug precursors. Finally, the EU cooperates actively with UN bodies dealing with drug precursors, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

European Commission: drug precursor control >>

top of page

How does the EU act at international level on drugs issues?

The EU cooperates with and supports the international organisations working in the field of drugs. Moreover, cooperation in the field of drugs, based on the principle of shared responsibility, proportionality and with full respect for human dignity and human rights, is an integral part of agreements with countries and regions throughout the world. The EU provides support to and coordinates with third countries on demand reduction, supply reduction, alternative development for drug producers, information and capacity building against drug trafficking. This assistance covers EU candidate and potential candidate countries, as well as countries that are part of the stabilisation and association process (such as Turkey and the countries of the Western Balkans region). It also helps the countries that are part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (European Neighourhood Policy countries are: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Occupied Palestine Territories, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.) and Russia to cooperate more closely on drugs through technical assistance programmes such as TAIEX. In addition, the EU has developed and financed a range of drugs-related projects in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa, to improve cooperation along the cocaine trafficking route, and in Afghanistan and Central Asia along the heroin route.

At international level, the EU works closely together with and is a major donor for international partners such as UNODC, INCB, UNAIDS, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Council of Europe and the World Customs Organization (WCO). Finally, the EU participates actively in the work of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, where the EU Member States work together to act as a coherent group of nations.

top of page

What assistance does the EU provide for candidate and potential candidate countries?

The EU provides technical assistance to help candidate and potential candidate countries (Candidate countries are: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland and Turkey; potential candidate countries are: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Montenegro and Serbia.) to develop the structures, strategies, human resources and management skills needed to strengthen their economic, social, regulatory and administrative capacity.

The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) provides funding for all pre-accession activities covering: transition assistance and institution building; cross- border cooperation; regional development; human resources development; and rural development. In the field of drugs, IPA supports the technical cooperation between the EMCDDA and Turkey and the Western Balkans.

The Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument (TAIEX) provides short-term technical assistance in the form of seminars, expert and study visits, training etc.

top of page

What assistance does the EU provide for European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) partners?

The ENP action plans place drugs cooperation within the framework of the fight against organised crime and regional cooperation as well as national efforts to develop adequate prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programmes. The TAIEX instrument is at the disposal of ENP countries and Russia to help build capacity to formulate strategies.

The European Neighbourhood Policy and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) provides funding to support reforms in the ENP countries and funds are allocated according to the priorities and needs agreed together with the beneficiary countries in the individual country programmes.

The Commission encourages the ENP partners to use the ENPI to implement the drugs priorities under the ENP action plans. Cooperation between the ENP countries and the EU agencies, such as the EMCDDA, is encouraged.

top of page

What does the EU do regarding new psychoactive substances?

In the EU, new psychoactive substances — mostly synthetic — emerge on a regular basis in the drugs market, in particular in the recreational and clubbing circuit. These new, unknown and untested substances may pose health risks for consumers. Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on the information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances enables the EU institutions and Member States
to evaluate the risk of new and potentially threatening narcotic and psychotropic drugs (natural and synthetic alike) that appear on the European drug scene. It also enhances their capacity to detect and monitor new trends in drug use. A new psychoactive substance is defined as a new narcotic or psychotropic drug, in pure form or in preparation, that is not controlled by the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but which may pose a public health threat. The decision relates to end-products and not to chemical precursors used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychoactive substances.

Between 1997 and 2009, ten psychoactive substances underwent risk-assessment procedures. Of these, six phenethylamines (4-MTA, PMMA, 2C-I, 2C-T-2, 2C-T-7 and TMA-2) and one piperazine (BZP) were subsequently controlled at EU level.

Action on new drugs >>

top of page

What is the Early warning system?

When a new psychoactive substance is first detected, detailed information on the manufacture, traffic and use, including information on possible medical use is sent by the EU Member States to Europol in the Hague and to the EMCDDA in Lisbon via the Europol National Units and the Reitox national focal points on drugs. Europol and the EMCDDA collect the information and communicate it immediately to the Europol National Units and the Member States’ representatives in the Reitox network, the European Commission and the London-based European Medicines Agency (EMA).

If Europol and the EMCDDA consider that the information provided by the Member States on a new psychoactive substance merits further data collection and analysis, they submit a Joint Report to the Council, the EMA and the Commission. Based on the Joint Report, the Council may request a risk assessment of the health and social risks caused by the use and the manufacture of — and traffic in — a new psychoactive substance, the involvement of organised crime and possible consequences of control measures. On the basis of the risk assessment report, the Commission decides whether to propose to the Council to make a new psychoactive substance subject to drug-control measures.

Action on new drugs

top of page

Where can I find information on national and EU drugs legislation?

The European Legal Database on Drugs (ELDD) is the EMCDDA’s online database of information on drugs-related legislation for the Member States and Norway and for the European Union. Information for non-EU countries is being added as it becomes available. The database contains legal texts in original formats to allow researchers and analysts to consult data sources directly — an indispensable tool for monitoring and analysing legislative developments in the Member States. It also contains country profiles, presenting the situation in the EU Member States, which have been compiled from reports submitted by the Reitox national focal points and from the texts of national laws and regulations. Legal reports, including detailed reports and publications on various aspects relevant to the legal situation in the EU Member States, are also available. Under ‘topic overviews’, summary tables give a quick outline of the legal position of EU countries with regard to illicit drugs.

Acquis of the European Union under Title IV ot the TEC and title VI of the TEU >>

top of page

What about civil society?

Civil society plays an important role in addressing drug issues at local, national and international level. In order to develop balanced and effective drug policies, the EU needs to tap into the wealth and diversity of experience, knowledge and views of groups and associations supporting or representing drug users or their families, NGOs directly engaged in reaching out to drug users and other players who have valuable insight.
The Civil Society Forum on Drugs meets at least once a year and serves as a platform for informal exchanges of views and information between the Commission and civil society organisations. The overall objective of the forum is to feed specific grass-roots experience into future Commission initiatives on drugs (see European Commission: drug control policy).

In order to provide a platform and networking opportunities for civil society bodies in the EU Member States, the European Commission launched the European Action on Drugs (EAD) on 26 June 2009 (UN World Drugs Day).

At the heart of the EAD campaign are the voluntary commitments made by professionals, individuals, associations and institutions to raise drugs awareness at local level.
The EAD fulfils one of the objectives of the EU action plan on drugs (2009–12), which aims to make EU drug policies relevant to professionals and civil society, while enabling them to influence policy.

top of page

What is Reitox and what is a national drugs observatory?

The EMCDDA relies on a network of national focal points or national drugs observatories — the Reitox network — which is responsible for collecting data at national level. Today, the Reitox network delivers a consistent, harmonised and standardised national reporting package covering 30 countries each year.

A national drugs observatory (NDO) is an organisation that provides its country with factual, objective, reliable and comparable information concerning drugs and drug addiction and their consequences.

The objectives of the NDO are:

  • to provide its national audience with the information seen as essential for policymaking and for the organisation of drug-related services, and on drug-related issues of general interest;
  • to collect and to produce the information needed to fulfil its country’s reporting obligations to supranational and international monitoring and drug-control programmes.

top of page

Page last updated: Thursday, 03 September 2015