Friday

19th Apr 2019

Cocaine consumption on the rise in the EU

  • An estimated 4.5 million Europeans used cocaine in 2006 (Photo: US federal government)

Cannabis remains the most widespread drug amongst Europeans but its levels of consumption might have reached a peak, unlike the use of cocaine which has shot up over the past year, a fresh study shows.

"Today's report reveals that drug use has stabilised in a number of important areas, albeit at historically high levels," said Wolfgang Goetz, the director of the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), when presenting this year's findings on Thursday (22 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He was referring particularly to the use of cannabis and heroine, with the latter showing a decline in consumption in some European countries.

On the other hand, cocaine as the second most frequently used drug, has seen a rise by around a million users over the past year, with an estimated 4.5 million Europeans reported as having used cocaine in 2006.

Although Mr Goetz suggested the rise could partially be explained by more reliable statistics, the EMCDDA still highlighted the urgency of the problem, with the highest levels of cocaine found in Britain and Spain and the biggest increases in Denmark and Italy.

A total of 107 tonnes of the drug was recovered in 2005, with Spain and Portugal featuring as the main points of entry into Europe.

Overall, around 7,000 to 8,000 people in the EU's 27 member states and Norway died due to drug-related harm in 2005, as the last year for which data was available. The highest increase was recorded in Greece, Austria, Portugal and Finland.

No to cannabis

The drugs monitoring centre pointed out that cannabis remains frequently used by young people, especially in Spain, the Czech Republic, France and Italy.

Around 70 million Europeans - nearly a quarter of all adults in the 27-member bloc – say they have tried the drug at least once in their life and 23 million people used it last year, according to the report.

When presenting the figures, Mr Goetz said that there were more reports on health problems related to the consumption of cannabis "and that's why we are particularly concerned about the estimated 3 million Europeans who use it daily."

On the other hand, the Italian leftist MEP Giusto Catania, the vice-president of the civil rights committee of the European Parliament, suggested the cannabis statistics should be evaluated in the context of existing national laws in the EU.

"The consumption of cannabis in the US is much higher than in the EU and we know that the American laws are much stricter. On the other hand, the Netherlands with its liberal laws records levels lower than the EU average. So it's clear that tough legislation does not always work and lead to lower consumption," he said.

But Carel Edwards, the head of European Commission's unit on Coordination of antidrugs policy noted that EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini is strongly against legalisation of the drug as a possible alternative route.

Investigation

How the Italian mafia found a Dutch home

One of the biggest mafia trials in Europe in recent years is about to end. Members of the Crupi clan are accused of smuggling vast amounts of cocaine from South America to Italy, using the Netherlands as their main hub.

EU parliament backs whistleblower law

MEPs backed an EU law to protect whistleblowers from retaliation in both the public and private sectors. EU states will have two years to transpose the directive.

EU commission to map gender recognition

The European Commission will start looking at how EU states determine genders - as part of an effort to make it easier for people to determine their own identities.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us