As
stated and discussed, an international, harmonized drug policy for the European
Union would be beneficial to combating drug use and trafficking across member
states. There is a multitude of studies and surveys proving that drug
trafficking and drug use are imminent issues in the European Union and its
member states. Thus, discussing ways to combat the issue is pertinent to this
time. Young people are signifcantly impacted by this issue, but older
generations are also subject to the pitfalls and shortcomings of drug abuse and
trafficking. The number of documented cartels from 2001-2015 was decently high,
and currently the number is decreasing thanks to more strict and harmonized
policies across the different member states. The European Commission has
already put into action a plan to help unify and harmonize drug policies in
existing member states, and this is a fantastic first step toward unification.
However, there are many short term solutions that need to be taken into
consideration. These include stricter border control, higher police presence in
“hot zones”, and limits on immigration and refugee intake. Stricter border
control would be beneficial as right now it is easy to cross into other member
states of the European Union. Hot zones are areas that have a higher crime rate
and drug use percentage than other areas, and greater law enforcement in these
areas would help minimize drug trafficking and use. Also, non profit
organizations designed to assist people in these areas with tasks such as
finding jobs or building resumes would also not only help with drug issues, but
also improve the quality of life in these areas overall. Limiting immigration,
especially in countries that are seeing an overflow of refugees, would also
help combat drug trafficking, as it is impossible to form a new connection to a
cartel or other crime related organization if there is no one on a different
country to connect it back. Looking at how Europe and the European Union
specifically are handling drug trafficking and drug policy would be extremely
helpful to other parts of the world, as other countries can develop policies
based off of existing ones in different countries. European Union enlargement
also supports a harmonized policy, as more countries, especially less stable
ones, becoming a part of the intergovernmental organization raises concern over
having to support them economically, socially, and politically. Overall, a
uniform drug policy is what is in the best interest for the European Union, and
in the long term, for the world as a whole.

            Currently, the European Commission
is actively looking to combat trafficking of drugs. They state on their
website, last updated in April 2017 that “The Strategy is structured around two policy areas: drug
demand reduction and drug supply reduction, and three cross-cutting themes: (a)
coordination, (b) international cooperation and (c) information, research,
monitoring and evaluation” (2017). The European Union and its member states
developed an eight year action plan with these goals in mind. 2017 is the first
year in the second phase of the plan, which will last until 2020. Developing a
plan such as this one, and on such a large scale, is groundbreaking for the
argument for a unified policy. This proves that a harmonized policy is on the
way, and is well within grasp in the near future. The implications of such an
action plan on the world are significant. If it is possible for the European
Union and member states to work toward a uniform policy, that means it is
plausible for other continents, such as North America, to also develop uniform
policies across countries. Eventually, this can lead to a world wide drug
policy that will help reduce the amount of drug related deaths that are
currently on the rise in so many countries around the globe today.

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            In 2014, Helena Carrapico wrote an
article titled “Analyzing the european union’s responses to organized crime
through different securitization lenses: Can different securitization
approaches lead to different conclusions?” that discusses organized crime in
Europe and if securitization is a viable solution to the issue. Organized crime
is a category of transnational, national, or local grouping of highly
centralized enterprises run by criminals who intend to engage in illegal
activity, especially for money or profit. Currently, organized crime is
“perceived as one of the main threats facing the European Union” (Carrapico,
2014). However, Carrapico discovered that securitization is not a feasible
solution for the time being, mainly due to the lack of understanding and
disconnects between practices. There are a multitude of other temporary
solutions that Carrapico does not discuss, and they are mentioned earlier in
this research paper.

            This argument for a harmonized
policy can be applied to other areas of the world as well, such as North
America. Currently, drug trafficking is becoming an issue raised to the
forefront in the United States. Looking at Europe and the European Union could
be beneficial to the United States as it attempts to develop and revise its own
drug trafficking punishments and policies. Taking into account which policies
currently in place in different European Union member states are more
successful at combating drug trafficking would be extremely helpful. Also,
coming up with an international agreement involving countries such as Canada
and Mexico, and even parts of Central America, might light the fire under the
European Union, and help speed a harmonized policy for Europe on its way. Since
agreements such as NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, already
exist, it would not be extremely difficult to develop a similar agreement on
drug trafficking across these countries. Drug use and trafficking are not
single country issues, but they are a world wide epidemic that needs to be
acknowledged fully in order to combat effectively.

As
noted earlier, drug trafficking is concentrated along specific routes, due to
the limited trade partners of each country. When anti-drug measures are
concentrated along known trafficking routes, the goals of disrupting and
dismantling are much easier to achieve. Using methods such as concentrated
police forces or even the use of Europol, the European Union equivalent of
Interpol, would be extremely beneficial in limiting trafficking, as more drug
traffickers and cartel members would be caught along these routes. Simple things
like more frequent bag checks and vehichal stops would be helpful to disrupting
the balance of the current drug trafficking epidemic.

These
anti-drug measures tend to be…largely directed towards drug detection,
disrupting drug supply channels, dismantling drug trafficking organizations,
and placing drug traffickers under arrest, as these are major areas of
consensus in European drug policy. (Chatwin, p. 439, 2004)

In the future, if a harmonized policy is
to become a reality, looking at the current policies of states with lower drug abuse
and drug related deaths may be beneficial to developing a policy that reduces
the amount of people using, as well as stopping or at least limiting cartel and
trafficking activity. Chatwin (2004) states,

Adding to the list of target areas, young
people are extremely effected by use and trafficking. Vuolo (2012) states that
“illicit drug use is higher for non-college bound students and remains high
following high school. During high school, excessive work can lead to increased
substance use” (Vuolo, p. 150, 2012). With illicit drugs already easily
accessible, the implications of this are severe and alarming. Concluding his
study, Vuolo found that “Among young people in the European Union…drug policy
is associated with individual level… drug use” (Vuolo, p. 154, 2012). When
young people start using drugs, it has great implications on the future for a
country. Vuolo found that a national policy and young people’s drug use are
linked. On their website, the European Commission states facts and figures
about drug abuse throughout the European Union. According to them, 1.3 million
adults are problem drug users. Therefore, drug trafficking and use does not
only effect young people, but influences older generations as well. The
European Commission sees drug use and trafficking, as well as drug related or
drug induced deaths as a high priority for legislation and discussion.

            Another solution for the time being,
since a uniform policy may still be some ways off, would be to limit
immigration and refugee intake into European Union countries. Immigration is
the international movement of people into a destination country in which they
are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle or
reside there, especially as permenant residents or naturalized citizens, or to
take up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker. Many
immigrants move to a new country as a way to open up a drug trading network.
Countries such as Germany already have immigration problems, so limiting the
number of people allowed, especially from high drug production countries such
as Afghanistan, would be beneficial to the economy and other areas as well. Limiting
immigration is not a permanent or severely impactful solution, but it is a
great step on the way to combating drug use and trafficking, and bringing down
the numbers of cartels and drug related or induced deaths that are so prevalent
and are becoming more so as time goes on.

            The main source of drug trafficking
or smuggling is through cartels. A drug cartel is any criminal organization
established with the intention of supplying drug trafficking demands. They
range from loosely managed agreements between various drug traffickers to
formalized commercial enterprises. In an assessment conducted by Hellweg and
Hüschelrath (2016), it was discovered that 113 cartels existed within the
European Union from 2001-2015, with 2007 being the peak year for cartels (2016)
Within each individual country, there are neighborhoods and areas known as “hot
zones”, where drug use and trafficking, as well as drug related deaths, are
higher and more frequent. A way to stop, or at least limit trafficking is by
targeting these areas with options such as higher police count or enforcing
eviction policies. When the people who supply illicit substances are separated
from the abusers, it makes drug trafficking and the risks of being caught less
appealing to criminals and criminal organizations. Other ways to make these
areas less problematic would be to establish organizations that help the people
in these hot zones form stable lives for themselves and their families. Ways of
providing help would be food banks and clothing drives, but also oragnizations
designed to help citizens aquire jobs or build resumes and interprofessional
skills. Even providing services such as basic reading and writing classes for
low profile families would be beneficial to combating drug use.

Since
the countries in the European Union are more willing to cooperate, and bringing
in new member states helps fuel this cooperation, a uniform policy may be
closer than people think. This makes a harmonized policy feasible in the near
future.

While
progress towards this state of ever increased cooperation has been neither consistently
applied across policy areas, nor consistently achieved across time, most
European commentators would agree that cooperation between countries has slowly
been increasing. (Chatwin, p. 495, 2007)

            An argument that supports a uniform
drug policy is being made based on the European Union’s enlargement. In May of
2004, ten new member states were welcomed into the European Union. Of course
there were benefits and concerns for this enlargement. Some of the new member
states were not as stable as the current ones, and there was fear that the
residing members would have to support the economic, social, and political
shortcomings of the new members. The European Union has expanded a number of
times throughout the course of its history by way of the accession of new
member states to the union. The process of enlargement is sometimes referred to
as European Integration. This term is also used to refer to the intensification
of cooperation between European Union member states as national governments gradually
allow for the harmonization of national laws and policies, such as drug-related
crimes. Even though there were concerns about the overall wellbeing of the
European Union as an entity, member states are still gradually on the way
toward being fully committed to developing harmonized policies. In the article
titled, “Multi-level governance: The way forward for European illict drug
policy?” Chatwin (2007) states,

Since
the European Union does not have strict border control within it, it is easy
for cartels to move drugs across countries. With easy access to Euro Rail
passes and even cars to travel across borders, drug trafficking is simple and
somewhat undetected in this regard. Because it will take some time to fully
come up with a harmonized plan and get all member states on board with the
plan, tighter border control and more frequent vehicle and bag checks may be
beneficial to limiting the problem. Other possible solutions include stricter
punishiments within countries, or special forces and organizations designed
with the specific purpose of detecting and stopping trafficking. For example,
Cyprus has a national committee specifically for drug prevention and to stop
trafficking (Chatwin, p. 440, 2004). Currently in Cyprus, drug use and
trafficking is not a major concern, and part of the reason this committee was
formed was to help slow down the process of drug trafficking becoming a
national concern. If other countries implemented committees to help combat
trafficking, trafficking would be more controlled and it would become easier to
create an international policy based off state policies, and the individual
concerns and interests of each member state.

Although,
in principal, drug traffickers have a plethora of suitable routes through which
to move illicit drugs, in actuality, drug trafficking is concentrated along
specific routes, as countries generally have a limited number of trading
partners. (Giommoni et al. p. 217, 2017)

            Looking at drug trafficking routes,
in their article titled “How do illicit drugs move across countries? A network
analysis of the heroin supply to europe”, Giommoni, Aziani, and Berlusconi
(2017) state

If
drug trafficking is an issue in the forefront of the European Union and the
member state’s mind, then a uniform policy would be beneficial at this time, as
there is potential to be on the same page. Scholars are still discussing the
topic and solutions to it.

In
the past 30 years, organized crime has shifted from being an issue of little,
or no concern, to being considered one of the key security threats facing the
European Union, the economic and political fabric of its society and its
citizens (Carrapico 2014).

            Discussions have been started about
how the international system is anarchic, and how this can have severe
repercussions on a harmonized policy. Anarchy is the condition of a society,
entity, group of people or a single person that rejects hierarchy. Since there
is currently no international level of government to enforce polices and laws,
it is difficult to create a policy that spans multiple nations, as nothing is
binding them to it at a higher level. Forces such as Interpol and Europol stop
international crime to an extent, but there currently is no international court
of law, so each offender is tried in a specific country, usually the country
where the crime is committed. This can be difficult with drug trafficking
however, because it spans across multiple governments, and can be hard to know
which country to try an offender in. This is where a harmonized policy would be
beneficial. Chatwin (2004) states, “there are no concrete guidelines in place
and policy is left up to the national governments of individual countries”
(Chatwin, 437, 2004). This is because states fear power being taken from them.
A belief of the international theory realism is that states will do anything to
survive. State sovereignty goes back in history even in the United States and
the writing of the Constitution. The establishment of Federalists and
antifederalists stemmed from this argument exactly. The worry of the loss of
state power is prevalent in multiple cases and has even bigger implications
when it is individual countries with their own leaders and laws rather than
states under one law. This can be seen in the European Union and the history of
backlash against a uniform policy. Recently, it has been determined that member
states are more willing to work together to develop a more harmonized policy,
because drug trafficking has become such a pressing issue. Even though member
states are fearful of a harmonized policy and the potential repercussions of
developing a clear and concise one, Carrapico (2014) states,

 The
beginning of the 21st century saw a drug use increase in Europe with
a particular increase in demand for marijuana and cocaine. Currently, there is
no uniform drug policy in the European Union. This is partly because the member
states of the EU are concerned about state sovereignty and taking power from
the state governments. However, drug trafficking has been on the agenda for the
EU even though there is no harmonized policy. Europe is easy to traffic drugs
across because of the close proximity of countries and easy access across
borders, especially of member states that are close trading partners. The
implications of drug trafficking can be seen in the number of drug users and
drug related or induced deaths in the European Union. Gayle (2017), states that
the EMCCDA found there were 8,441 overdose related deaths in 2016 (Gayle 2017).
This is a significant number, and most overdose deaths are related to heroin,
one of Europe’s most trafficked drugs. In a study conducted by Mark Vuolo
(2012), it was discovered that 46.3% of young people knew a hard drug user.
91.8% of these respondents said it was easy to get drugs. The people surveyed
in this study had an average age of 19.6. This is significant because young
people are the future of a country, and if they are using drugs, or have easy
access to illicit substances, the overall well-being of a country can be
impacted significantly in the future. There is no argument that drug
trafficking is an issue, however there is an argument over how to handle the
concern. A uniform drug policy would be beneficial to minimize drug use and
trafficking in the European Union.

Drug trafficking and use is not confined
to one country, but is a network between countries. It is widely regarded by
lawmakers as a serious offence. This makes continents such as Europe highly
likely to have concentrated land routes that connect all countries. Because
countries typically have a limited number of trading partners, it can be easy
to move a drug from one country to a trading partner of that country, and then
into a non-mutual trading partner. Most trafficking occurs not over ocean and
air, but across adjacent countries by land routes. Looking specifically at the
European Union and the countries that take part in this organization, it is
interesting to find many controversies and opinions. The European Union is
peaceful and helpful to maintaining good relations between European countries.
However, when it comes to drug trafficking, each country acknowledges the
issue, but has a different opinion and way to handle it. The EU is attempting
to gain more power to help develop an international drug policy within the
European Union. States have problems with this attempt because it crosses the
line between international government and state sovereignty. There is fear that
if the EU implements and international drug policy, states will lose more rights
as individuals as the EU takes power from them.

Is a uniform drug policy beneficial?

Drug trafficking effects on the
european union:

x

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