EMPACT: keeping the European Union safe

EMPACT stands for the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats. Formerly known as the EU Policy Cycle, it is a security initiative that prevents, detects and reacts to threats to the EU, helping to keep it safe.

This page provides background information on EMPACT, describes the EMCDDA's involvement in the project and highlights some key activities and outputs. 



EMPACT (the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats), formerly known as the EU Policy Cycle, is a security initiative that prevents, detects and reacts to threats to the EU, helping to keep it safe. 

The initiative is led by EU Member States and supported by the EU institutions, bodies and agencies. It is the permanent EU flagship instrument to fight serious and organised crime.

EMPACT adopts a multidisciplinary, multiagency approach to EU internal security through operational measures such as external border controls, police, customs and judicial cooperation, information management, training and public-private partnerships. Its activities run in four-year cycles which focus on a set of agreed priorities. The current cycle covers the period 2022–2025.

The four key stages of EMPACT are:

  • Analysis of current and future threats through the EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA)
  • Strategic planning based on SOCTA findings and priorities identified by the Council (identification of priorities)
  • Operational action plans (OAPs) based on goals identified in the strategic plans
  • Independent evaluation of actions

EMPACT: priorities 2022–2025

EU Member States have identified the following 10 EMPACT crime priorities for the period 2022–2025. These are based on the 2021 EU SOCTA, presented by Europol.

  1. High-risk criminal networks
  2. Cyberattacks
  3. Trafficking in human beings
  4. Child sexual exploitation
  5. Migrant smuggling
  6. Drug trafficking
  7. Fraud, economic and financial crimes
  8. Organised property crime
  9. Environmental crime
  10. Firearms trafficking

In addition to these priorities, document fraud will be addressed as a common horizontal strategic goal, since it is a key enabler for many crimes.

EMPACT: EMCDDA involvement

One of the strategic objectives of the EMCDDA is to improve understanding of the nature and consequences of drug-related crime.

Among its key tasks is to maintain an overview of EU drug markets, their ramifications and responses and to support EU policy and operational responses to security challenges posed by drugs and drug markets at EU and national levels.

In this context, the agency contributes to two of the 10 EMPACT priorities:

  • High-risk criminal networks — To identify and disrupt high-risk criminal networks active in the EU, with special emphasis on those using corruption, acts of violence, firearms and money laundering through parallel underground financial systems.
  • Drugs trafficking — To identify and target the criminal networks involved in drug trafficking, including the trafficking and distribution of cannabis, cocaine, heroin, synthetic drugs and new psychoactive substances.

The priority on drug trafficking is delivered through two separate operational action plans (OAPs): one on cocaine, cannabis and heroin and one on synthetic drugs and new psychoactive substances.

The EMCDDA also provides technical expertise and support to EMPACT stakeholders in the drafting of the annual OAPs containing actions to address the 10 priority threats. EMPACT stakeholders work in a coordinated way to implement these plans.

EMPACT-related work

Support and expertise

The EMCDDA assists the European Commission and the Member States in formulating operational action plans (OAPs) linked to the 10 priority threats. It does this mainly through the strategic goals related to the criminal intelligence picture and through capacity building via training, networking and innovation.

EU Drug Markets: In-depth analysis

These joint EMCDDA-Europol analyses of drug markets inform the EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA). The analysis, produced by the EMCDDA and Europol with the support of the EU Member States, features in the OAPs. The first two analyses released cover cocaine and methamphetamine.



The EMCDDA is involved in the delivery of training as outlined in the OAPs. One example is the residential training course delivered annually with CEPOL on ‘Drug markets and crime: strategic analysis’.

Cooperation with other Justice and Home Affairs agencies

The EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies are involved in the implementation of the OAPs. Agencies lead or participate in relevant operational actions. The EMCDDA cooperates on an ongoing basis with Europol, CEPOL and Frontex in drug-related projects, reports and training initiatives.

EMPACT: results

Organised crime is a major threat to European citizens, businesses and institutions. How are law enforcement authorities across the EU Member States working together to fight criminal threats?

2022 results

2021 results

Related links