Disunity costing Europe drugs battle

EUROPE is not winning the battle against drug trafficking because each of the 27 member states is fighting the narcotics trade on its own, according to the European Commission’s top drug adviser.

The startling warning comes amid growing concerns over the levels of heroin and cocaine trafficking into the European Union.

Carel Edwards, the head of the drug coordination unit at the commission’s justice directorate, said that given the drugs trade was a “global problem” the only response which would work was a European-wide one

He said while there had been improvements in terms of treatment provision and research, the EU’s response to drug trafficking and organised gangs had not been adequate.

“The response to organised crime and drugs has been stubbornly national. There are some good regional initiatives, but the European institutions we have are not really being used to the extent they could be.”

He said these “expensive” institutions included Europol, the EU police intelligence agency, and Eurojust, the EU prosecutors organisation.

“As long as there remains 27 separate law enforcement responses to one single global market we are never going to get to the bottom of this problem,” he said.

Mr Edwards was commenting following the publication last week of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s (EMCDDA) 2009 annual report.

The report documents increased levels of heroin trafficking and worrying signs regarding new trafficking strategies by international cocaine networks.

The report said seizures of heroin were up across the EU and that there had been a massive rise in seizures in Turkey, the main shipment point for heroin into Europe.

“We have also seen in Turkey, an important transit country for heroin entering the EU, that the volume of heroin seized has increased from 2.7 tonnes in 2002 to 13.2 tonnes in 2007,” said EMCDDA’s director Wolfgang Gotz.

He said other heroin indicators were up, such as the number of heroin deaths, people seeking treatment and the number of new addicts.

The report said that while the quantity of cocaine seized fell in 2007, the number of cocaine seizures increased. In addition, prices are falling and there is now the emergence of a new trafficking route.

EMCDDA expert Paul Griffiths said traffickers seemed to be using the heroin route into the Middle East and up through eastern Europe.

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