Founding and early history of the EMCDDA


In 1989, French President François Mitterrand proposed a seven-point action plan to EU leaders to tackle the escalating drugs problem in Europe. This called for greater cooperation and coordination between Member States, the creation of a European drug monitoring centre, and a common methodology to analyse all aspects of the phenomenon: health, social, trafficking and sanctions.

Following Mitterrand’s proposal, an ad hoc political group of national drug coordinators — the European Committee to Combat Drugs (CELAD) — drew up a European Plan to Combat Drugs. Adopted in 1990 at the European Council in Rome, this was a first attempt at a common approach to the drugs problem in Europe. It called for EU and national action to reduce demand, combat trafficking and coordinate policies.

These first steps marked a milestone in the history of European action on drugs. The creation of the EMCDDA in 1993 symbolised a major political decision to build drug policies on scientific evidence rather than on ideology.


Key dates in the genesis and growth of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA):

  • 1989: Letter from French President François Mitterrand to EU leaders calling for greater cooperation and coordination on drugs
  • 1990: Adoption of the first European Plan to Combat Drugs (European Council, Rome)
  • 1991: Creation of a European drug monitoring centre endorsed by EU leaders (European Council, Luxembourg)
  • 1992: Adoption of the second European Plan to Combat Drugs (European Council, Edinburgh)
  • 1993: Entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty, giving the EU a role in drug policy for the first time
  • 1993: Adoption and entry into force of Council Regulation (EEC) No 302/93 establishing the EMCDDA; decision of EU leaders to base it in Lisbon (Commission press release)
  • 1994: First meetings of the EMCDDA Management Board, Scientific Committee and Heads of national focal points (Reitox network), appointment of the Director, purchase of the Lisbon premises
  • 1995: Opening of the agency in Lisbon with 15 member countries and a staff of 17; adoption of the first work programme.

See below for 25-year timelines (1995–2020).

Related resources




  • 1995: Georges Estievenart (France) 
  • 2005: Wolfgang Götz (Germany)
  • 2016 - present: Alexis Goosdeel (Belgium)

Regulation and amendments

1993 Council Regulation (EEC) No 302/93

2006 Regulation (EC) No 1920/2006 (recast)

 2017 Amended Regulation (EC) No 1920/2006

External evaluations

EU drugs strategies and action plans

Timeline of EMCDDA membership by country


Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom*

Norway (Agreement between the EU and Norway)


Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia


Bulgaria and Romania

2013 Croatia
2014 Turkey (Agreement between the EU and Turkey)
*The United Kingdom is no longer a member of the EMCDDA, having left the EU on 31 December 2020.