Customs Laboratories European Network (CLEN) meets in Lisbon

The Portuguese Taxes and Customs Authority and the EMCDDA are hosting in Lisbon this week the second meeting of the European Commission’s (EC) Customs Laboratories European Network (CLEN) project group, funded by the EC Customs 2020 programme. The meeting is focusing on ‘Designer drugs and other illicit products’.

Laboratory image

The event is being organised by the EC’s Directorate-General (DG) for Taxation and Customs Union and the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection of the Joint Research Centre, with the participation of the DG for Migration and Home Affairs.

The CLEN project group is composed of customs laboratories from the 28 EU Member States and aims to promote cooperation among them. CLEN representatives are joined at the meeting by scientists from the EMCDDA as well as forensic experts from the public and private sectors. Also attending are members of the Portuguese General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD) and the Portuguese Judicial Police (PJ).

The EMCDDA has been at the forefront of the world’s efforts to monitor new drugs for over 15 years. In partnership with Europol, it has been tracking the rapid emergence of these substances via the EU Early Warning System on new psychoactive substances.

The new drugs phenomenon is developing at an unprecedented pace. This is reflected, not only in the large number of substances appearing, but also in their diversity and in how they are produced, distributed and promoted.

With new substances from diverse chemical groups emerging rapidly and sold in combination with other drugs, one of the main challenges to responding effectively to new psychoactive substances is their forensic identification. The need to identify and assess increasingly diverse sets of chemicals, and the costs of doing so, requires a more robust cooperation and increased sharing of chemical data, reference samples and expertise among customs laboratories.

The two-day meeting provides a unique opportunity for representatives of these laboratories to share experiences, compare their practices and discuss the next steps of the project.