PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL SECURITY: Agreement reached to better protect Europeans from harmful legal highs

The Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Parliament reached an informal agreement today 29 May 2017, which will allow the EU to react quickly to protect citizens against harmful legal substitutes for illicit drugs. These substances are often referred to as ‘legal highs’.

The agreement comes after four years of negotiations on the proposal, and is a testament to the Maltese Presidency’s focus on prioritising its work in bringing about results that protect the health and lives of European citizens.

The new mechanism will allow for a more effective and efficient EU response to New Psychoactive Substances, which are appearing on the EU market at an unprecedented pace, posing a risk to public health and safety.

Reacting to today’s agreement, Maltese Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela, stated: Legal highs are a growing problem for public health in Europe and it is young people who are most at risk. With these new rules, the EU will provide a faster and more effective response. We will be able to drastically reduce the time needed to assess and possibly decide on an EU wide ban of new psychoactive substances.

New Psychoactive Substances can be just as harmful as illegal drugs, often with deadly consequences. Both the Maltese Presidency and the European Parliament recognised the tragic impact of these substances, particularly noting the impact on young and vulnerable citizens.

The new mechanism will streamline the procedure at EU level for assessing the potential negative effects of a new psychoactive substance, and decide on a possible ban. This procedure will now be nearly twice as quick as before. Also, the new rules will further reduce from 12 to 6 months the time for member states to implement the EU decision at the national level. The package also aims at improving the information exchange, early warning system and risk assessment procedure at EU level.

Based on the political agreement reached today between the Maltese Presidency and the European Parliament, the texts will be formally adopted by the latter institution and the Council of the EU in the coming months.

Source: Government of Malta