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Drugnet Europe News from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction — July–September 2008

New report on drug-related public expenditure

Producing estimates of drug-related public expenditure is one of the many targets set by the current EU drugs action plan (2005–08). In this light, the EMCDDA launched in July its latest Selected issue publication focusing on Drug-related public expenditure in Europe.

Testing a new methodology, combining 'labelled' and 'unlabelled' expenditure (1), the report presents preliminary estimates of how much European governments are spending on the drugs problem. While figures should be used with caution (methodology needs refining; data remain patchy), estimates from reporting countries, extrapolated to European level, arrive at a total cost of drug-related public expenditure in 2005 of EUR 34 billion. This represents an average expenditure of EUR 60 per European citizen per year.

A considerable amount of quality information is available in Europe on drug-related public expenditure (mostly labelled). One observation made in the report is that the disbursements identified so far mainly refer to public spending at central government level. The future inclusion of sub-national government expenditure on drugs would therefore certainly result in higher figures.

Luis Prieto and Marie-Christine Ashby

(1) 'Labelled expenditure' refers to planned spending, reflecting a state’s voluntary commitment in the drugs field. It can be traced by reviewing official accountancy documents over a given period. 'Unlabelled expenditure' refers to unplanned spending and is estimated through modelling techniques. The twofold approach aims to provide more comprehensive and accurate estimates of public spending in tackling drugs and drug addiction Europe-wide. See Drugnet Europe No 61.


Drugnet Europe is the EMCDDA's newsletter launched in September 1996. The newsletter provides regular and succint information on the Centre's projects and activities to a broad readership.

Page last updated: Friday, 18 July 2008