Asstated and discussed, an international, harmonized drug policy for the EuropeanUnion would be beneficial to combating drug use and trafficking across memberstates. There is a multitude of studies and surveys proving that drugtrafficking and drug use are imminent issues in the European Union and itsmember states. Thus, discussing ways to combat the issue is pertinent to thistime.
Young people are signifcantly impacted by this issue, but oldergenerations are also subject to the pitfalls and shortcomings of drug abuse andtrafficking. The number of documented cartels from 2001-2015 was decently high,and currently the number is decreasing thanks to more strict and harmonizedpolicies across the different member states. The European Commission hasalready put into action a plan to help unify and harmonize drug policies inexisting member states, and this is a fantastic first step toward unification.However, there are many short term solutions that need to be taken intoconsideration. These include stricter border control, higher police presence in”hot zones”, and limits on immigration and refugee intake.
Stricter bordercontrol would be beneficial as right now it is easy to cross into other memberstates of the European Union. Hot zones are areas that have a higher crime rateand drug use percentage than other areas, and greater law enforcement in theseareas would help minimize drug trafficking and use. Also, non profitorganizations designed to assist people in these areas with tasks such asfinding jobs or building resumes would also not only help with drug issues, butalso improve the quality of life in these areas overall. Limiting immigration,especially in countries that are seeing an overflow of refugees, would alsohelp combat drug trafficking, as it is impossible to form a new connection to acartel or other crime related organization if there is no one on a differentcountry to connect it back.
Looking at how Europe and the European Unionspecifically are handling drug trafficking and drug policy would be extremelyhelpful to other parts of the world, as other countries can develop policiesbased off of existing ones in different countries. European Union enlargementalso supports a harmonized policy, as more countries, especially less stableones, becoming a part of the intergovernmental organization raises concern overhaving to support them economically, socially, and politically. Overall, auniform drug policy is what is in the best interest for the European Union, andin the long term, for the world as a whole. Currently, the European Commissionis actively looking to combat trafficking of drugs.
They state on theirwebsite, last updated in April 2017 that “The Strategy is structured around two policy areas: drugdemand 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 statesdeveloped an eight year action plan with these goals in mind. 2017 is the firstyear in the second phase of the plan, which will last until 2020. Developing aplan such as this one, and on such a large scale, is groundbreaking for theargument for a unified policy. This proves that a harmonized policy is on theway, and is well within grasp in the near future. The implications of such anaction plan on the world are significant. If it is possible for the EuropeanUnion and member states to work toward a uniform policy, that means it isplausible for other continents, such as North America, to also develop uniformpolicies across countries. Eventually, this can lead to a world wide drugpolicy that will help reduce the amount of drug related deaths that arecurrently on the rise in so many countries around the globe today.
In 2014, Helena Carrapico wrote anarticle titled “Analyzing the european union’s responses to organized crimethrough different securitization lenses: Can different securitizationapproaches lead to different conclusions?” that discusses organized crime inEurope and if securitization is a viable solution to the issue. Organized crimeis a category of transnational, national, or local grouping of highlycentralized enterprises run by criminals who intend to engage in illegalactivity, 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 feasiblesolution for the time being, mainly due to the lack of understanding anddisconnects between practices.
There are a multitude of other temporarysolutions that Carrapico does not discuss, and they are mentioned earlier inthis research paper. This argument for a harmonizedpolicy can be applied to other areas of the world as well, such as NorthAmerica. Currently, drug trafficking is becoming an issue raised to theforefront in the United States. Looking at Europe and the European Union couldbe beneficial to the United States as it attempts to develop and revise its owndrug trafficking punishments and policies. Taking into account which policiescurrently in place in different European Union member states are moresuccessful at combating drug trafficking would be extremely helpful. Also,coming up with an international agreement involving countries such as Canadaand Mexico, and even parts of Central America, might light the fire under theEuropean Union, and help speed a harmonized policy for Europe on its way.
Sinceagreements such as NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, alreadyexist, it would not be extremely difficult to develop a similar agreement ondrug trafficking across these countries. Drug use and trafficking are notsingle country issues, but they are a world wide epidemic that needs to beacknowledged fully in order to combat effectively.Asnoted earlier, drug trafficking is concentrated along specific routes, due tothe limited trade partners of each country. When anti-drug measures areconcentrated along known trafficking routes, the goals of disrupting anddismantling are much easier to achieve. Using methods such as concentratedpolice forces or even the use of Europol, the European Union equivalent ofInterpol, would be extremely beneficial in limiting trafficking, as more drugtraffickers and cartel members would be caught along these routes. Simple thingslike more frequent bag checks and vehichal stops would be helpful to disruptingthe balance of the current drug trafficking epidemic.Theseanti-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 ofconsensus in European drug policy. (Chatwin, p.
439, 2004)In the future, if a harmonized policy isto become a reality, looking at the current policies of states with lower drug abuseand drug related deaths may be beneficial to developing a policy that reducesthe amount of people using, as well as stopping or at least limiting cartel andtrafficking activity. Chatwin (2004) states,Adding to the list of target areas, youngpeople are extremely effected by use and trafficking. Vuolo (2012) states that”illicit drug use is higher for non-college bound students and remains highfollowing high school. During high school, excessive work can lead to increasedsubstance use” (Vuolo, p. 150, 2012).
With illicit drugs already easilyaccessible, the implications of this are severe and alarming. Concluding hisstudy, Vuolo found that “Among young people in the European Union…drug policyis associated with individual level… drug use” (Vuolo, p. 154, 2012). Whenyoung people start using drugs, it has great implications on the future for acountry. Vuolo found that a national policy and young people’s drug use arelinked. On their website, the European Commission states facts and figuresabout drug abuse throughout the European Union.
According to them, 1.3 millionadults are problem drug users. Therefore, drug trafficking and use does notonly effect young people, but influences older generations as well.
TheEuropean Commission sees drug use and trafficking, as well as drug related ordrug 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 limitimmigration and refugee intake into European Union countries. Immigration isthe international movement of people into a destination country in which theyare not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle orreside there, especially as permenant residents or naturalized citizens, or totake up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker. Manyimmigrants 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 thenumber of people allowed, especially from high drug production countries suchas Afghanistan, would be beneficial to the economy and other areas as well. Limitingimmigration is not a permanent or severely impactful solution, but it is agreat step on the way to combating drug use and trafficking, and bringing downthe numbers of cartels and drug related or induced deaths that are so prevalentand are becoming more so as time goes on. The main source of drug traffickingor smuggling is through cartels. A drug cartel is any criminal organizationestablished with the intention of supplying drug trafficking demands.
Theyrange from loosely managed agreements between various drug traffickers toformalized commercial enterprises. In an assessment conducted by Hellweg andHüschelrath (2016), it was discovered that 113 cartels existed within theEuropean Union from 2001-2015, with 2007 being the peak year for cartels (2016)Within each individual country, there are neighborhoods and areas known as “hotzones”, where drug use and trafficking, as well as drug related deaths, arehigher and more frequent. A way to stop, or at least limit trafficking is bytargeting these areas with options such as higher police count or enforcingeviction policies. When the people who supply illicit substances are separatedfrom the abusers, it makes drug trafficking and the risks of being caught lessappealing to criminals and criminal organizations. Other ways to make theseareas less problematic would be to establish organizations that help the peoplein these hot zones form stable lives for themselves and their families. Ways ofproviding help would be food banks and clothing drives, but also oragnizationsdesigned to help citizens aquire jobs or build resumes and interprofessionalskills. Even providing services such as basic reading and writing classes forlow profile families would be beneficial to combating drug use.
Sincethe countries in the European Union are more willing to cooperate, and bringingin new member states helps fuel this cooperation, a uniform policy may becloser than people think. This makes a harmonized policy feasible in the nearfuture.Whileprogress towards this state of ever increased cooperation has been neither consistentlyapplied across policy areas, nor consistently achieved across time, mostEuropean commentators would agree that cooperation between countries has slowlybeen increasing. (Chatwin, p. 495, 2007) An argument that supports a uniformdrug policy is being made based on the European Union’s enlargement. In May of2004, ten new member states were welcomed into the European Union. Of coursethere were benefits and concerns for this enlargement. Some of the new memberstates were not as stable as the current ones, and there was fear that theresiding members would have to support the economic, social, and politicalshortcomings of the new members.
The European Union has expanded a number oftimes throughout the course of its history by way of the accession of newmember states to the union. The process of enlargement is sometimes referred toas European Integration. This term is also used to refer to the intensificationof cooperation between European Union member states as national governments graduallyallow for the harmonization of national laws and policies, such as drug-relatedcrimes.
Even though there were concerns about the overall wellbeing of theEuropean Union as an entity, member states are still gradually on the waytoward being fully committed to developing harmonized policies. In the articletitled, “Multi-level governance: The way forward for European illict drugpolicy?” Chatwin (2007) states, Sincethe European Union does not have strict border control within it, it is easyfor cartels to move drugs across countries. With easy access to Euro Railpasses and even cars to travel across borders, drug trafficking is simple andsomewhat undetected in this regard.
Because it will take some time to fullycome up with a harmonized plan and get all member states on board with theplan, tighter border control and more frequent vehicle and bag checks may bebeneficial to limiting the problem. Other possible solutions include stricterpunishiments within countries, or special forces and organizations designedwith the specific purpose of detecting and stopping trafficking. For example,Cyprus has a national committee specifically for drug prevention and to stoptrafficking (Chatwin, p. 440, 2004). Currently in Cyprus, drug use andtrafficking is not a major concern, and part of the reason this committee wasformed was to help slow down the process of drug trafficking becoming anational concern. If other countries implemented committees to help combattrafficking, trafficking would be more controlled and it would become easier tocreate an international policy based off state policies, and the individualconcerns and interests of each member state.
Although,in principal, drug traffickers have a plethora of suitable routes through whichto move illicit drugs, in actuality, drug trafficking is concentrated alongspecific routes, as countries generally have a limited number of tradingpartners. (Giommoni et al. p. 217, 2017) Looking at drug trafficking routes,in their article titled “How do illicit drugs move across countries? A networkanalysis of the heroin supply to europe”, Giommoni, Aziani, and Berlusconi(2017) stateIfdrug trafficking is an issue in the forefront of the European Union and themember state’s mind, then a uniform policy would be beneficial at this time, asthere is potential to be on the same page. Scholars are still discussing thetopic and solutions to it.Inthe 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 theEuropean Union, the economic and political fabric of its society and itscitizens (Carrapico 2014). Discussions have been started abouthow the international system is anarchic, and how this can have severerepercussions on a harmonized policy. Anarchy is the condition of a society,entity, group of people or a single person that rejects hierarchy.
Since thereis currently no international level of government to enforce polices and laws,it is difficult to create a policy that spans multiple nations, as nothing isbinding them to it at a higher level. Forces such as Interpol and Europol stopinternational crime to an extent, but there currently is no international courtof law, so each offender is tried in a specific country, usually the countrywhere the crime is committed. This can be difficult with drug traffickinghowever, because it spans across multiple governments, and can be hard to knowwhich country to try an offender in. This is where a harmonized policy would bebeneficial. Chatwin (2004) states, “there are no concrete guidelines in placeand 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 tosurvive. State sovereignty goes back in history even in the United States andthe writing of the Constitution. The establishment of Federalists andantifederalists stemmed from this argument exactly.
The worry of the loss ofstate power is prevalent in multiple cases and has even bigger implicationswhen it is individual countries with their own leaders and laws rather thanstates under one law. This can be seen in the European Union and the history ofbacklash against a uniform policy. Recently, it has been determined that memberstates are more willing to work together to develop a more harmonized policy,because drug trafficking has become such a pressing issue. Even though memberstates are fearful of a harmonized policy and the potential repercussions ofdeveloping a clear and concise one, Carrapico (2014) states, Thebeginning of the 21st century saw a drug use increase in Europe witha particular increase in demand for marijuana and cocaine. Currently, there isno uniform drug policy in the European Union. This is partly because the memberstates of the EU are concerned about state sovereignty and taking power fromthe state governments. However, drug trafficking has been on the agenda for theEU even though there is no harmonized policy.
Europe is easy to traffic drugsacross because of the close proximity of countries and easy access acrossborders, especially of member states that are close trading partners. Theimplications of drug trafficking can be seen in the number of drug users anddrug related or induced deaths in the European Union. Gayle (2017), states thatthe 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 surveyedin this study had an average age of 19.
6. This is significant because youngpeople are the future of a country, and if they are using drugs, or have easyaccess to illicit substances, the overall well-being of a country can beimpacted significantly in the future. There is no argument that drugtrafficking is an issue, however there is an argument over how to handle theconcern. A uniform drug policy would be beneficial to minimize drug use andtrafficking in the European Union.Drug trafficking and use is not confinedto one country, but is a network between countries.
It is widely regarded bylawmakers as a serious offence. This makes continents such as Europe highlylikely to have concentrated land routes that connect all countries. Becausecountries typically have a limited number of trading partners, it can be easyto move a drug from one country to a trading partner of that country, and theninto a non-mutual trading partner. Most trafficking occurs not over ocean andair, but across adjacent countries by land routes. Looking specifically at theEuropean Union and the countries that take part in this organization, it isinteresting to find many controversies and opinions. The European Union ispeaceful and helpful to maintaining good relations between European countries.
However, when it comes to drug trafficking, each country acknowledges theissue, but has a different opinion and way to handle it. The EU is attemptingto gain more power to help develop an international drug policy within theEuropean Union. States have problems with this attempt because it crosses theline between international government and state sovereignty. There is fear thatif the EU implements and international drug policy, states will lose more rightsas individuals as the EU takes power from them.Is a uniform drug policy beneficial?Drug trafficking effects on theeuropean union: