The emergence of new drug trafficking routes, the reduced availability of drug-related health services and the adaptation of drug treatment protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic are among the findings highlighted today in a new EMCDDA report: Impact of COVID-19 on drug markets, drug use, drug-related harms and responses in south European Neighbourhood Policy countries.
The publication is released in the framework of the EMCDDA EU4Monitoring Drugs project, funded by the EU and launched in 2019. The project paves the way for the agency to cooperate and exchange data more readily with the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) partner countries. A similar report relating to the eastern ENP region was released in September.
Today’s report presents the key results of an EMCDDA trendspotter study, prepared in consultation with some 20 experts from seven southern ENP countries (1). A summary of the report in English is available in Arabic, Hebrew and French. The south ENP region, which comprises diverse countries in North Africa and the Middle East, is an important nexus for drug smuggling to, and from, the EU, as well as a well-known hub for the production of cannabis and amphetamine-containing substances.
The report highlights the following changes in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic across the southern ENP region:
The report concludes that the experience gained during the pandemic confirmed that national authorities may need to further ensure that practitioners and law-enforcement officers remain adequately equipped and skilled to work both in a situation of health emergencies and in an environment where online communication and digital tools may start to dominate.
Continued cooperation, and investment in drug monitoring systems, will help the EU and partner countries identify important new developments and design appropriate strategies to address new challenges.