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Brussels, 24 June 2011

Statement by Vice President Viviane Reding ahead of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

Marking the 50th anniversary of the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs, EU Justice Commissioner Reding said Europe made the following statement:

“We are investing heavily in Europe in preventing drug use, treating addicts and disrupting drug trafficking. Unfortunately, we are still very far from defeating the scourge of illicit drugs.

Drug addiction is a scourge on our societies. Drug abuse destroys young people’s lives. Drugs are dangerous and illegal. Young people must be warned about the dangers of taking drugs.

Drug abuse remains massive. I am personally shocked that every hour, one European dies because of a drug overdose. That's 8,500 people in the EU every year. I do not accept such a senseless waste of life. This is a major cost to society.

Despite our best efforts to reduce production and trafficking, drugs are still widely available in Europe. The results of the latest Eurobarometer survey show that large numbers of young people in the EU can obtain illicit drugs, even the most dangerous ones, within 24 hours. Illicit drugs earn traffickers around € 270 billion every year.

The past few years have brought fresh challenges. 115 new drugs, which imitate the effects of dangerous banned drugs, have emerged in Europe.

We need robust answers, and strong legislation, to tackle these challenges. This is why the European Commission intends to act, starting with the thorough assessment of the functioning of the currently existing EU instruments for anti-drug policy, such as the 2005/387/JHA Council Decision on the information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances, which will be presented next moth.

We must also continue to invest in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts, and make these services more effective. With firm action and by empowering people, we will be better placed to win the battle against drugs.”

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