Monitoring new substances entering Europe’s illicit drug market was the focus of talks today between the Directors of the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) and the European law enforcement agency (Europol).
The two EU agencies collaborate actively in detecting and monitoring new and potentially threatening psychoactive substances entering the European market and in assessing the involvement of organised crime in their manufacture and trafficking.
Meeting at the EMCDDA in Lisbon this afternoon, Wolfgang Götz (EMCDDA) and Rob Wainwright (Europol) endorsed two joint reports providing the latest update on new substances in Europe.
The first of these is the EMCDDA–Europol annual report on the implementation of the ‘Council Decision on the information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances’, the three-step legal mechanism through which Europe monitors new substances (1). This report presents the key findings of how the mechanism was implemented in 2009, detailing the appearance over the 12 months of new unregulated synthetic compounds openly marketed as ‘legal highs’ and specifically designed to circumvent drug controls. Also listed are the psychoactive substances officially notified in 2009 to the EMCDDA and Europol via the early-warning system.
The second report focuses on the new drug mephedrone and results from recent information collection on the substance by the two EU agencies and their respective networks in the EU Member States. This report completes Step I of the monitoring process established by the Council Decision (early-warning and information exchange). On the basis of this report, a decision may be taken by the Council of the EU whether or not to launch a formal risk-assessment procedure on the substance (Step II).
Both reports will be formally submitted this week to the European institutions and the Member States before being released to the public in the coming weeks.
Also discussed at today’s meeting were matters of strategic cooperation. The two EU agencies stepped up their cooperation on drugs and crime in March 2009 approving a series of collaborative activities for the period 2009–12. This action was taken in the framework of a ‘Cooperation Agreement’ signed by the organisations in Brussels on 19 November 2001 (2). Among these activities is an EMCDDA–Europol joint publication series covering key aspects of European drug markets. The second title in this series Cocaine: A European Union perspective in the global context is due for release next month (www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications).