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IP/04/294

Brussels, 3rd March 2004

Commission welcomes reform of EU drug precursors control system

The Commission welcomes the adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 to improve the monitoring and control of EU trade in chemicals known as drug precursors. These are chemical substances that, whilst having many legal and legitimate uses, are sometimes also used for the manufacture of illegal drugs, such as heroin, amphetamines or ecstasy. The effective control and monitoring of these precursor substances has proved to be one of the most valuable weapons in the fight against drug trafficking.

Welcoming the Regulation, Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said: "This new regulation will help to tackle the production of illegal drugs. It will do this by improving the way we control the substances which can be used to make drugs. The new rules will automatically become part of EU law and do not require further implementation across the twenty-five Members States. This should also make the system simpler and easier to apply."

The new Regulation strengthens the controls on two key substances, namely potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride, used in the production of cocaine and heroin. In addition, it improves the existing rules on licensing and registration by requiring that customer declarations accompany each shipment of certain substances. These measures apply to the movement of precursor substances within the European Union. The import and export of such substances is covered by separate legislation.

Background

The 2003 annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction indicated that over the last decade there have been between 7000 and 9000 drug-related deaths reported every year in the EU and Norway and the trend is growing, with the people most affected being in their 20s and 30s.

Rules in this area were first drawn up in 1992. Those rules have worked well and helped to build strong co-operation between EU institutions, Member State authorities and economic operators. However, today there are 6 separate Directives and Regulations in this area. The new regulation will replace these with a single legal text. This should simplify the legislation and make it more user friendly, both for economic operators, and for the Competent Authorities in the Member States.

The Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the EU of 18 February 2004, L/47, p.1. For further information please see:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/chemicals/legislation/precursors/index.htm


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