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Published: 15 November 2011

Recession: the impact on interventions in the drugs area

The economic recession that hit Europe in 2008 has severely affected EU Member States. Its impact on public accounts may be long-lived, and requires policies aimed at reducing government deficits and debt in most countries. The European Commission (2011) predicts that, in 2011, for the first time in a decade, public expenditure (excluding interest payments) in the European Union will fall in real terms.

Data on budgetary allocations to interventions related to drugs were collected by the Reitox national focal points in order to have a first insight into the impact of austerity measures on drug policy. Of the 19 countries providing information, 15 reported reductions in funds available for some areas of drug policy since 2008. The size of the cuts varied considerably, however, with reported reductions ranging from 2 % to 44 %, depending on country and policy area.

Fiscal austerity appears to have affected different sectors of drug policy differently. For labelled expenditure, the areas most severely affected were research, prevention, social reintegration and organisational activities. Most countries appear to have avoided cutting their budgets for treatment, though some report reorganisation of services or cuts in provision. Reductions in funding for drug-related programmes in prisons or law enforcement activities were also reported. Information about unlabelled expenditure, which accounts for the lion’s share of drug-related public expenditure, is unavailable for most of the countries. Consequently, austerity measures affecting sectors such as law enforcement, justice or some areas of treatment provision might be under-reported.

About the EMCDDA

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Friday, 28 October 2011