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Grasping the Links in the Chain: Understanding the Unintended Consequences of International Counter-Narcotics Measures for the EU

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Policy recommendations for Europe's war on drugs

The impact of global drug policies on countries along the transit chain is not well known, leading to several negative unintended consequences (UCs). An EU initiative proposed solutions to mitigate UCs, particularly the substantial criminal black market in drug trafficking and associated violence and corruption.

Industrial Technologies

To enhance existing international counter-narcotics (CN) policies, the EU-funded LINKSCH (Grasping the links in the chain: Understanding the unintended consequences of international counter-narcotics measures for the EU) project examined the cannabis and heroin drug markets in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Russia, Spain and Turkey in order to deliver policy recommendations. Work began by studying current knowledge concerning drug market operations and the outcomes and effectiveness of control measures along the North Africa-EU and Afghanistan-EU transit chains through interviews, data collection and literature surveys. This led to the development of a strategic model on how the cannabis and heroin drug markets for the two chains operate. To this effect, the behaviour of the two drug markets was analysed with respect to economic markets and the influence of CN policies on them. The team considered existing supply and demand CN policies. Beyond effectiveness, they used benchmarks such as good governance, sustainable exploitation and development policies. Using the model as a basis, researchers also carried out comprehensive reviews of the UCs and their role in CN policies for each chain. To reduce future UCs, project partners employed the strategic model and the transit chain reviews to lay down 17 key policy recommendations. These specific proposals assist Member States in evaluating and improving their policies for the UCs of existing drug control regimes. LINKSCH shed much-needed light on drug issues and on transit chains operating between Central Asia and the EU and those between North Africa and the EU. Europe will be better equipped to cope with CN-related activities involving third countries.


Policy recommendations, drugs, drug policies, transit chain, unintended consequences, counter-narcotics

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