Top officials gather in Lisbon to launch new European Union Drugs Agency

Inauguration ceremony — European Union Drugs Agency

High-ranking officials are gathering in Lisbon today for the inauguration of the new European Union Drugs Agency (EUDA). The new agency replaces the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), which has been operating in Lisbon since 1995. New legislation which entered into application this week revises the EMCDDA mandate and name, and formally establishes the EUDA (1). The transformation marks a pivotal step in strengthening the EU’s capacity to address the health and security challenges posed by illicit drugs. 

Following an external evaluation of the EMCDDA, the European Commission called for a broader and more proactive remit for the agency in January 2022 to help it address new challenges posed by an increasingly complex drug phenomenon. The EU legislative process was concluded in June 2023, setting the EMCDDA on a one-year transition course to becoming the EUDA.

The ultimate goal of the EUDA is to strengthen the European Union’s preparedness on drugs. New mechanisms have been created to help achieve this goal. These include a European Drug Alert System, to issue alerts when serious drug-related risks appear on the market, and a European Threat Assessment System to boost how the EU prepares for, and reacts to, emerging or potential health and security threats. The agency will be supported by a network of EUDA national focal points and a European Network of Toxicology and Forensic Laboratories, designed to foster information exchange on new trends and to train national toxicologists and forensic drug experts.

The agency's work will be organised around four inter-connected service categories:

  • Anticipate: Helping the EU and its Member States anticipate future drug-related challenges and their consequences.
  • Alert: Issuing real-time alerts on new drug risks and threats to health and security.
  • Respond: Helping the EU and its Member States strengthen their responses to the drug phenomenon.
  • Learn: Facilitating EU-wide knowledge exchange and learning for evidence-based drug policies and interventions.

Among the officials present at today's inauguration ceremony are:

  • European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson;
  • Portuguese Secretary of State for Health, Ana Povo;
  • Chair of the EUDA Management Board (Austria), Dr Franz Pietsch;
  • EUDA Executive Director, Alexis Goosdeel.

Working Arrangement with Ecuador

The new agency has been given a stronger role in the area of international cooperation. In the margins of the press conference, the EUDA will sign a Working Arrangement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, in the presence of the Commissioner. The agreement will be signed by EUDA Executive Director Alexis Goosdeel and H.E. Ambassador Xavier Aliaga Sancho, Ambassador of Ecuador to the European Union. The agreement is designed to enhance cooperation in addressing drug-related challenges.

First Management Board meeting

From 4–5 July, the EUDA will host its inaugural Management Board meeting, chaired by Dr Franz Pietsch (Austria). This closed event will bring together for the first time the formally nominated Board members to take key institutional decisions linked to the new EUDA regulation. The Board will adopt its rules of procedure and elect members to the Executive Board and Budget Committee. It will also appoint members to the EUDA Scientific Committee and approve a list of experts for risk assessments of new psychoactive substances. A list of EUDA national focal points (and their heads) and of national representative laboratories appointed to the EUDA network of forensic and toxicological laboratories will also be presented to the Board. On 5 July, the meeting will be extended to include high-level representatives from candidate countries and potential candidates to the EU, as well as non-EU countries with which the EUDA collaborates. Executive Directors of other EU agencies will also attend. Geostrategic discussions will focus on international cooperation and emerging drug trends.


European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson: 'I am proud that the EU Drugs Agency is now equipped with a new and stronger mandate, supported by increased resources. From a monitoring centre for drugs and addiction to a fully-fledged EU agency enhancing the EU’s preparedness on drugs, it has an increased capacity to draw up early threat assessments, initiating faster mitigating measures, and a greater capacity to look into the drugs market and precursors. This represents a new impulse in our commitment to address the drug situation comprehensively and to step up efforts to fight drug trafficking and organised crime'.

Chair of the EUDA Management Board, Dr Franz Pietsch: 'The inauguration of the European Union Drugs Agency represents an important milestone in improving how Europe tackles present and future challenges in the drugs field. I am convinced that, with its fit-for-purpose mission, the EUDA will provide significant added value to policymakers and professionals as they address the causes and consequences of drug use'.

EUDA Executive Director, Alexis Goosdeel: ‘I am delighted to declare that the European Union Drugs Agency is open for business. As the EUDA, we have a broader mandate to anticipate future drug-related challenges and to alert in real time on new drug risks and threats. We will also help the EU and Member States strengthen their responses and we will facilitate EU-wide knowledge exchange and learning for evidence-based drug policies and interventions. We are at a pivotal moment in the history of EU action in the field of illicit drugs and are on a clear course towards boosting EU preparedness in this complex field. I would like to thank the Commissioner, the EU institutions and the Member States for their support. I would also like to express my gratitude to my staff for their commitment and dedication. They have made extraordinary efforts to create the new agency while continuing to deliver on our current mandate'.