Contributing to a healthier and more secure Europe

EMCDDA building in Cais do Sodré

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the leading authority on illicit drugs in the European Union. The Lisbon-based agency provides independent scientific evidence and analysis on all aspects of this constantly changing threat to individual lives and wider society. Its work contributes to EU and national policies to protect Europe’s citizens from drug-related harms.

The agency does not make policy or recommendations. Its expertise helps to ensure that the decisions of EU and national policymakers, professionals and practitioners are based on objective and verified facts, not ideology or moral and value judgements. It frequently identifies important drug-related threats, helping EU countries be better prepared to handle them.


  • Formally established in 1993 (see ‘History of the EMCDDA’)
  • Opened in Lisbon (Portugal) in 1995 with 17 staff members and 15 EU Member States
  • Current staff: 103
  • Part of a network of EU decentralised specialist agencies
  • Director: Alexis Goosdeel (Belgium), since 2016
  • Chair of the Management Board: Franz Pietsch (Austria), since 2022
  • Chair of the Scientific Committee: Professor Catherine Comiskey (Ireland), since 2020


The EMCDDA supports EU and national evidence-based policies by providing factual, objective, reliable and comparable information on drugs, drug addiction and their consequences. This role is grounded in the consensus that sound information is a prerequisite for effective policymaking.


 The EMCDDA’s twin long-term goals are to contribute to a healthier and more secure Europe, through better-informed drug policy and practice. To achieve this, it applies a multidisciplinary approach to deliver quality, timely and comparable data. The agency has to adapt to changes in the drugs field as well as available resources and customer needs. This has seen it evolve from largely an information provider into a more proactive service-oriented agency.

Four business drivers underpin the EMCDDA’s strategy and address internal and external factors that are critical to success. These are the institutional framework, effective partnerships, scientific capacity and management capability. The drivers emphasise the importance of anticipating and adapting to customers’ needs; working with national, European and international partners; accessing the necessary scientific expertise; and providing a healthy working environment.

Two pillars – Health and Security – guide the EMCDDA’s work

The EMCDDA's business drivers: The environment for the successful delivery of the EMCDDA's services


The EMCDDA is committed to the EU and its overall values. More specifically, four core values guide the work of the agency and its staff:

  • Scientific excellence — advancing evidence-based knowledge to underpin sound decision-making and research
  • Integrity and impartiality — working professionally, objectively, impartially, independently and transparently
  • Customer focus and service orientation — anticipating customers’ evolving needs and producing timely and tailored material to help anticipate new threats and adopt informed policies
  • Efficiency and sustainability — prioritising activities that deliver value, respect cost-effectiveness and promote corporate sustainability


The EMCDDA has three groups of primary customers:

  • EU institutions
  • National decision-/policymakers
  • Professionals working in the drugs field

Increasingly, the agency is also engaging with academics and researchers, the general public, civil society, people affected by drug problems, international organisations and non-EU countries.


The Management Board is the agency’s main decision-making body. It has one representative from each EU country, Norway and Turkey, two from the European Commission and two independent experts chosen by the European Parliament. It is supported by an Executive Committee and a Budget Committee. The EMCDDA Director is the agency’s legal representative and accountable to the Management Board.

The agency concentrates its work where it may provide maximum added value. It complies with EU good governance rules and codes of conduct, ranging from good administrative behaviour and transparency to data protection and avoidance of conflicts of interest. Regular external evaluations provide an independent check on the agency’s performance. In 2018, the Commission concluded that the EMCDDA was ‘recognised as a hub of excellence in Europe and internationally’.


The EMCDDA relies on funding provided through the general budget of the European Union (budget line B3-441). In 2021, the EU subsidy is EUR 16.6 million. With the contributions of Turkey and Norway, the budget totals EUR 17.4 million. Additional funds are received for technical assistance projects. 


Innovation is essential if the EMCDDA is to keep pace with revolutionary changes in the extent and nature of the drugs problem and in the world in which we live. It therefore seeks creative, interdisciplinary and collaborative solutions for the contemporary challenges faced. It has expanded its monitoring capability by complementing routine data collection with information from an expanding range of leading-edge sources, providing more timely and rounded analyses. In an era when digital transformation becomes vital for organisations to deliver value to stakeholders, the agency is pursuing the use of new technologies for business optimisation and communication.