Customs controls face increasing amounts of chemical products with false declarations that are entering the European Union (EU) market. Many of these products are synthetic designer drugs also known as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), which are not controlled under international law. The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) supports the Customs' Laboratories European Network (CLEN) - which is coordinated by the Directorate-General Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) - with scientific expertise for the identification of NPS in seized samples.
This work - some outcomes have recently been published - also contributes to the fast and efficient collection of NPS data by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) as required for the implementation of the new EU legislative framework on NPS coming into force on 23 November 2018.
Recently, the EMCDDA has also raised concerns regarding the large number of highly potent new substances, especially new synthetic opioids and fentanyl analogs, that have appeared on the market.
These pose a high risk of life-threatening intoxication not only to users but also in some circumstances to customs-, law enforcement- and laboratory personnel, who may be at risk of poisoning from occupational exposure.
The improvement of safety measures for sampling and analysis for potentially highly dangerous goods such as fentanyls were discussed in a CLEN meeting organised by the JRC, DG TAXUD and the Dutch Customs laboratory: 'Safety measures for sampling of dangerous goods', 11-12 June in Den Haag, Netherlands.
This was followed by a workshop entitled 'Portable handheld detection instruments' (13-14 June in JRC-Geel).
The delegates from the Member States attending the meetings expressed:
- a need for sharing of knowledge,
- the exchange of good practices and training of customs officers for the correct use of handheld detection devices,
- the establishment of common guidelines for strengthening traceability and exchange of libraries with modern detection technology.
Follow-up actions to address these needs are in preparation by the JRC, the CLEN and the Customs Detection Technology Project Group of the European Commission Department for Taxation and Customs Union.
- EMCDDA publishes latest insights into NPS in Europe
- Fentanils and synthetic cannabinoids: driving greater complexity into the drug situation — an update from the EU Early Warning System
- Regulation (EU) 2017/2101 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2017 amending Regulation (EC) No 1920/2006 as regards information exchange on, and an early warning system and risk assessment procedure for, new psychoactive substances
- Directive (EU) 2017/2103 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2017 amending Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA in order to include new psychoactive substances in the definition of ‘drug’ and repealing Council Decision 2005/387/JHA
- Guillou, C. et al. “Collaboration of the Joint Research Centre and the European Customs Laboratories for Identification of New Psychoactive Substances.” Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology , (E-pub Ahead of Print) DOI : 10.2174/1389201019666180523122717
- Publication date
- 26 June 2018