Good morning everyone,
We are presenting this year's European Drug Report at a time when we are celebrating 25 years of the EU Early Warning System. 25 years of alerting Europe to the dangers of new psychoactive substances, of new drugs.
In those 25 years, the drugs agency has warned policymakers of ever more novel, ever more potent and ever more toxic drugs.
The agency reported 52 new drugs last year alone, bringing the total to 880 drugs now under observation — testifying both to the agency's excellence in monitoring and the increasing threat drugs pose to our citizens’ health and security.
This year's European Drug Report shows that drug use rarely comes alone. It comes with mental health problems, with homelessness, with youth crime and vulnerable people suffer the most.
Social policies, health policies must go hand in hand with security policies.
This year's report shows that after COVID disruptions, drug supply is bouncing back.
Member States’ law enforcement are breaking new records in capturing drugs. In 2020 a record
213 tonnes of cocaine and a record 21 tonnes of amphetamine.
The report shows that, like all of us, traffickers went increasingly online during the pandemic.
Buying and selling drugs through social media is commonplace now. The drug report shows that criminal networks continue to operate on a global scale. Drug busts are up, but so is cooperation between organised crime groups across the Atlantic.
This report shows us we must do more to fight organised crime. Last month, I presented proposals on asset recovery to make it easier to trace, freeze and cease criminal profits, to make sure that crime doesn't pay and to stop drug money from fuelling violence and corruption. Drugs crime is the most profitable kind of crime and these proposals will deprive criminals of their greatest source of income.
And this report shows that we must do still more to reduce supply, reduce demand and reduce harm as outlined in our EU Drug Strategy and our Action Plan.
That's why I propose to transform the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction into a fully-fledged European Union Drugs Agency with more staff, a bigger budget and a stronger mandate.
A mandate allowing the monitoring of poly-substance use, mixing of drugs or mixing drugs, alcohol and medicine, because mixing kills. Mixing drugs causes most overdose deaths.
A mandate allowing examination of drug markets, studying for example the buying and selling of drugs on the internet, social media and the darknet.
A new mandate allowing early and deep investigations into complex new threats. For example, after the Taliban takeover, the rise in the production of methamphetamine in Afghanistan finding its way to Europe. Or perhaps the possible consequences of the war in Ukraine for drug use and supply.
I hope that the new mandate will be in place by 2024. Whatever happens, the drugs agency's information and analysis will remain crucial to shaping drug policies and the drug report will remain our go-to source of data on drugs. This report builds on the work of many years. Each report gives us a more complete picture of the challenge we face.
I would like to thank everybody who has contributed and a warm thank you to Alexis and his team for a job well done. Thank you!