Tougher rules to prevent chemicals being diverted to illegal drug production

2013-04-27, 21:34
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New rules to ensure that chemicals used in industrial processes, such as manufacturing plastics, textiles, aspirin, flu and allergy remedies, dyes and perfumes, are not diverted to the illegal production of heroin, speed or crack were adopted by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday and by the International Trade Committee on Thursday.

Closing a loophole in the EU

Civil Liberties MEPs backed a proposal to require companies using acetic anhydride (AA), a chemical precursor widely used in industry to manufacture products including plastics, aspirin, dyes and textiles, to register with the authorities.

Currently, only companies producing or trading AA have to register but not those using it in their products. This leaves open a loophole allowing criminals to divert large quantities of the chemical, which is the main drug precursor for heroin, from legitimate trade within the EU. In 2008, 75% of the global seizures of trafficked AA occurred in EU countries.

The committee also backed a new European database on drug precursors to be set up so that licensed and registered businesses in the EU can be listed and data on seizures and intercepted shipments of the substance can be collated more efficiently.

To meet data protection concerns, Civil Liberties Committee MEPs passed amendments to clarify the use and processing of data and to ensure that the rights of data subjects are protected.

Tougher controls on medicine imports

On Thursday International Trade Committee MEPs backed a proposal to strengthen customs controls on trade in medicinal products containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. These substances are commonly used in cold, flu and allergy medicines but are also diverted to the illegal production of methamphetamines.

Trade MEPs strengthened the Commission's initial proposal, which would have subjected ephedrine and pseudoephedrine only to an export notification requirement, by instead subjecting them to the same control measures as imports and exports of other drug precursors. Trade in medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine is currently not controlled.

Next steps

Parliament's negotiating teams will now start discussions with member states’ representatives with a view to reaching agreements.

Civil Liberties Committee vote: 47 in favour, 3 against, 5 abstentions

International Trade Committee vote: 22 in favour, 2 against, 3 abstentions

In the chair:
Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) (LIBE)
Vital Moreira (S&D, PT) (INTA)


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