Commissioner responsible for Home Affairs
Transatlantic cocaine routes
G8 Panel "Diagnosis and organization of criminal networks"
Paris, 10 May 2011
Mesdames, Messieurs les Ministres en charge de la lutte contre le trafic de drogues et les représentants des organisations internationales et régionales,
C'est avec plaisir que je représente l'Union européenne à cette conférence du G8 consacrée aux routes transatlantiques de la cocaïne, et je souhaiterais tout d'abord remercier Claude GUÉANT de l'avoir organisée.
I shall now continue in English.
Drug trafficking: Everyone here is well aware that drug trafficking has had devastating effects on certain states and even entire regions. It empowers criminal networks and enables them to undermine the rule of law by corrupting officials which are de facto providing them some kind of territorial "sovereignty".
As a result of this, criminal hubs with skyrocketing numbers of drug consumption have developed. The sad consequence is a trail of health pathologies and a high rate of drug-related crime, ranging from street violence to money laundering and corruption. Such criminal hubs are expanding all along the drug chain, from production, transit to consumption. It should further be noted that there are some recent evidence, notably in Sahel, of some occasional links between drug trafficking and terrorism funding.
So what is the situation in Europe?
In Europe, according to the latest figures of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) which is under my authority, every month, an estimated number of 1.5 million EU citizens consume cocaine (12 million for cannabis).
Estimates show that around 140 tonnes of cocaine are consumed each year in the EU. At an average retail price of 50 Euros per gram, this creates an illicit market roughly worth 550 million Euros a month. There is no need to tell you that this is enough to pollute our licit economy and that this has a global reach.
The illicit drug market is a complex phenomenon and consequently a holistic approach, not only focusing on demand and supply reduction is required. Only a global and integrated approach can deliver lasting results for all.
Under the umbrella of the EU Drugs Strategy 2005-2012, the Stockholm programme, and the Internal Security Strategy, we are currently developing a wide range of operational actions on all fronts of the drug issue.
One of the key elements is of course the disruption of international crime networks. In such an interconnected world, our actions can only be successful if they are coordinated at the international level. The G8, with the invited countries, present an excellent platform to share ideas and develop new strategies in this context, building upon the valuable work of the G8 Roma/Lyon Group.
Let me emphasise 4 concrete steps on how the European Union can help in delivering concrete results.
First of all, as you know, information and intelligence are the cornerstone of the fight against criminal networks. On the intelligence side, with the setting up of EUROSUR, the European border surveillance system, we will be able to improve our border intelligence and offer added value to investigations on cross-border drug trafficking.
Concretely, EUROSUR will make use of new technologies, such as satellite imagery, to detect and track targets at the maritime border by, for example, tracing fast vessels transporting drugs to the EU. This will help the services of Member States and Europol to work more successfully with third countries and boost our efficiency in preventing these high speed boats from touching shores.
To target drug trafficking effectively, it is important to have reliable information about trends in the illicit drugs market. In the EU, the already mentioned European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), working in synergy with Europol, provides sharp analysis about new trends in drug use and emerging threats at pan-European level.
This enables to develop and implement balanced and evidence-based drugs policies, fitting the ever evolving nature of this criminal trade. The drugs monitoring centre and Europol will also develop tools to better assess the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts targeting illicit drugs.
Secondly, the Commission concretely supports MAOC-N (the Maritime Analysis and Operation Centre-Narcotics), where EU countries work well together with the US and several countries along the cocaine route.
We also support the two "West African platforms", of Dakar and Accra, where EU countries' liaison officers exchange information, also with key partners, about anti-drugs capacity building projects. And I want to thank the French authorities for their leadership in this field with The European Pact against international drug trafficking.
In the EU, we strongly believe in the added value of such cooperation platforms, to coordinate the efforts of the numerous players targeting drug trafficking along trafficking routes. We believe that this "model" can be replicated elsewhere.
I therefore support the idea of creating new platforms along the cocaine route, notably in Latin America and the Caribbean region. This idea will also be discussed at the Transatlantic Symposium on transnational threat, which will take place in Lisbon next week and which, I hope, will give an operational follow up to decisions that we will make here today.
Thirdly, being confronted with more mobile, more flexible and more international networks than ever, the traditional methods of investigation are no longer sufficient.
This is especially true as these criminal entities, given the increasing pressure of law enforcement, now try to operate under the cover of a legitimate business.
At the EU level, we are making concrete steps to improve prevention, detection and disruption of organised crime activities through a vast array of measures, ranging from financial investigation to the fight against money laundering, corruption, the streamlining of information exchange and the confiscation of assets.
Strengthening EU legislation on asset recovery, to curb the financial power of drug traffickers, is one of my priorities. I will put forward a Proposal for reinforcing the legislation in the field by the end of the year.
The Commission also invests heavily in the fight against money laundering. Doing so requires sustaining effective cooperation between Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) under the European Anti-Money Laundering framework
But we constantly need to adapt our legal framework to the evolution of organised crime. Legal proposals will also be made in the two years to come on this.
Better tracking and tracing money trail also requires more expertise, access to necessary information and relevant training in financial investigation. Properly used financial investigation holds the potential to become to the 21st century what fingerprints and DNA were for the 19s and 20s centuries, a critical breakthrough. The European Commission will propose a EU strategy in the area for the beginning of 2012.
Let me also stress that we are currently exploring ways to enhance judicial cooperation with all the countries on the cocaine route, to make sure that drug traffickers do not go unpunished.
Last but not least, I should mention that our efforts can only bear lasting fruits through a close partnership with the third countries concerned. We are of course already engaging in bilateral, regional and multilateral dialogues with all third countries gathered here today, but we wish to do even more.
We are subsequently developing an EU Sahel strategy. Its goal is to strengthen the capacities of the security, law enforcement and the rule of law sectors in the fight against criminal threats and handle them in a more efficient and targeted manner.
Sahel States should be helped to develop tools for trans-border right of observation and pursuit, integrated border management, and better mutual legal assistance.
We are also aware that chemicals precursors are now increasing diverted to West Africa. The EU has an extensive expertise in securing the official channels of these precursors and has developed a comprehensive legal framework, cooperation agreements with third countries and partnership with the industry. This know-how could be put to fruitful use.
That is why substantial funding will be made available at the EU level to notably finance Home Affairs-related activities in third countries in our next budget (next EU Multiannual Financial Framework.
Ambitious and tailor-made technical assistance action plans which are supposed to create a difference on the ground should then be developed in close cooperation with all our partners around this table.
It is with these goals in mind, together with the spirit of increased cooperation in the context of the G8 Roma/Lyon Group, and with the participation of our friends which are present today, that I fully support the Political Declaration as well as the Action Plan proposed by France and to ensure that an appropriate follow-up by the EU will be guaranteed.
Je vous remercie.