Season’s greetings and warm wishes for a peaceful 2024

As the curtain falls on 2023, we look back on a year steeped in significance for the EMCDDA. While we commemorated 30 years since the agency's creation, we also prepared for a future milestone and a fundamental shift in focus. New legislation entering into force on 30 June set us on a one-year transition course to becoming the European Union Drugs Agency (EUDA) on 2 July 2024. We look forward to writing this exciting new chapter and addressing the drugs problem with a stronger and extended mandate.

When I reflect on the past 12 months, I feel proud of the way in which the EMCDDA team has consistently delivered insightful and timely analyses to inform drug policy and practice in Europe. In June, we launched our new digital-first European Drug Report 2023 with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, assessing the emerging threats and new developments in Europe's drug phenomenon. As new and potent substances continue to appear, we remain alert to substances such as synthetic opioids, which are raising concern in some Member States.  

Contributing to a more secure Europe, we teamed up with Europol to produce our latest in-depth analyses of the drug market. Two new modules on the amphetamine and cannabis markets show increased production activities in Europe and how collaboration between criminal groups worldwide is creating new security threats and expanding the market.

We collaborated closely with partners to provide potentially life-saving guidance in the health field. Joining forces with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) we updated recommendations to prevent and control infectious diseases among people who inject drugs. We also published practical guidance for drug-checking services when communicating drug-related risks. Finally, moving forward with our commitment to develop more co-production with our key partners, we launched our first joint publication on drug consumption rooms in close cooperation with the Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN).

One of the issues in focus this year was that of health and social responses for migrants who use drugs. Working with our colleagues at the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), we underlined the need to scale up specialised drug services for migrants in Europe and to empower reception centre workers through training in drug use response. Addressing the needs of displaced persons who use drugs — such as those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine and seeking treatment in the EU — continues to be a concern.

Drugs have long been a cross-border phenomenon. As drug problems in Europe are increasingly linked to and influenced by global developments, it is crucial that our analysis of trends and developments be placed in the wider international context. One example is our cooperation with countries in Latin America. In 2023, we strengthened our relations with the countries of the region through the support we provide to the bi-regional COPOLAD programme, and through the negotiation and conclusion of Working Arrangements with Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. This autumn, I made an official visit to Peru to meet the national authorities and the main institutions involved in national drug policy to prepare our first joint work programme. The other cooperation agreements should be signed in 2024.

Throughout 2023, thanks to the invaluable support of the Swedish and Spanish EU presidencies of the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament, we made great progress in preparing for our new mandate in 2024. Throughout the year, our discussions were considerably enriched by insights from representatives of civil society working in the drugs field. Associating people who use drugs in the design of responses and interventions is crucial if we are to develop a more holistic and comprehensive approach to a highly complex drugs phenomenon. Cooperation and co-production with civil society and European networks will be further developed in the context of the new mandate of the agency.

It has been an honour and a privilege to lead the EMCDDA as it enters its final phase. I would like to thank the Reitox national focal points, our Management Board and Scientific Committee, the EU institutions and our external partners for all of their support throughout the year. Last but not least, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the EMCDDA staff for their tireless dedication to managing the multiple tasks at hand.

With gratitude, I send you our last EMCDDA Season’s greetings and warm wishes for a peaceful 2024!

Message Season's greetings and warm wishes for a peaceful 2024 on a blue background with snow flakes