Public spending on drugs in the European Union during the 1990s

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

According to the Commission, nearly one in five of the European Union population has used an illicit drug at least once. Fears over drugs and organised crime tops the “list of fears” among European citizens, with 69 per cent seeing it as the greatest threat to our society. Fighting the drugs phenomenon requires a multidisciplinary and integrated approach in the EU.

This retrospective research by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction considers EU Member States’ “drugs budgets” during the last decade (1990-2000). The “drugs budget” is a valuable indicator of a country’s effort in overall drug policy as it covers the amount spent on preventive action, health care and law enforcement.

Drug-related health expenditure includes all public spending devoted to the care of the consequences of drug consumption and related diseases, including the cost of treatment of HIV patients and those who contract hepatitis while using drugs, as well as the cost of the administration of substitution treatment. Among Member States, Sweden spends most to manage drug-related health problems, followed by Belgium.

Different countries spend varying amounts on law enforcement, such as home affairs, justice, finance and customs, with Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands devoting larger sums than the European average.

On 80 pages, the EMCDDA report looks at countries’ contribution to drugs expenditure in health care and to what extent law-enforcement authorities are dealing with drug crime. It compares public drug expenditure in the EU, as well as the percentage of contribution from the drugs budget to lax enforcement versus health care. Finally, the report compares drugs spending between the U.S. and the EU.


To read the full report, visit the

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction website.  

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