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Source Countries and
Drug Transit Zones: Europe

Quick Facts

According to the Eurobarometer survey in 2006, 68 % of European citizens do not agree that personal consumption of cannabis should be legalized throughout Europe.

Seizures of cocaine in Europe are increasing. In 2005, an estimated 70,000 seizures of cocaine, amounting to 107 tons, were made in Europe.

Surveys have found that some European countries have seen a marked increase in cocaine use among young people since the mid-1990s.

An estimated 52,000 seizures resulted in the interception of about 16.8 tons of heroin in the EU Member States and candidate countries and Norway in 2005.

Source: EMCDDA

Europe and the European Union are important allies in combating the threat of global illicit drug production and trafficking. The U.S. works closely with the European Union and its organizations to share drug policy information and counter drug trafficking. The U.S. also cooperates bilaterally with EU countries such as the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, and Sweden on a number of international drug priorities from increased heroin trafficking in Afghanistan to increasing cocaine transiting through West Africa to Europe.

In Europe, cannabis remains the most prevalent illicit drug of abuse. According to the Eurobarometer survey in 2006, 68% of European citizens questioned did not agree that personal consumption of cannabis should be legalized throughout Europe. EU surveys also indicate an increase in cocaine use among young people since the mid-1990s, with an overall prevalence of 3.7% of the total adult population (15-64 years). This translates into at least 12 million Europeans who have used this drug at least once in their lifetime. Lifetime use of cocaine is reported by more than 5% of the total adult population (15-64 years) in three countries: Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

Most seizures of cocaine continue to be reported in western European countries, especially Spain, which accounts for about half the seizures and amounts of cocaine intercepted in Europe, followed by Portugal and the Netherlands. To counter the increase of cocaine coming to Europe, 7 European countries (France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom) determined in 2004 to mobilize their resources to fight illegal maritime drug trafficking in the Eastern Atlantic. The Maritime Analysis and Operations Center-Narcotics (MAOC) commenced its operations in April 2007 in Lisbon Portugal.

Domestic drug policy in many Western European nations continues to focus on the social welfare aspect of drug use, with a reduced focus on law enforcement. The U.S. is working with its partners to encourage balanced strategies that focus on prevention, treatment, and enforcement, in order to achieve the drug use reduction goals of the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS).

Related Resources:

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. U.S. State Department, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, March 2008.

I-ADAM in Eight Countries: Approaches and Challenges (PDF), National Institute of Justice, Bruce Taylor, May 2002. This publication is a progress report on the implementation of the International Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (I-ADAM) program in eight countries and on the challenges they faced.

European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
EMCDDA was set up in response to the escalating drug problem in Europe and to demands for an accurate picture of the phenomenon throughout the European Union. EMCDDA releases an annual report each year reporting on data received from member states national focal points.

Europol. Europol is the European Law Enforcement Organization which aims at improving the effectiveness and co-operation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international organized crime.

Eurobarometer. Since 1973, the European Commission has been monitoring the evolution of public opinion in the Member States, thus helping the preparation of texts, decision-making and the evaluation of its work. Surveys and studies address major topics concerning European citizenship: enlargement, social situation, health, culture, information technology, environment, the Euro, defense, etc.

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