The contribution of the EU to the implementation of the Panama action plan on drugs

The European Union’s (EU) overall relations with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have been strengthened considerably since the mid-1980s. A full range of agreements have been concluded at all levels based on the three pillars of political dialogue, co-operation and trade relations. Witness in this regard:

•         the establishment of the San Jose Dialogue and the institutionalisation of a EU political dialogue with the Group of Rio, with the Andean region, with Mercosur, with Mexico and with Chile, all of which have been significant milestones in integrating the political dimension into the EU-LAC relations;

•         the granting by the EU of a particularly favourable preferential trade regime (“the GSP-Drugs scheme”) for the imports originating from the Andean and Central American regions;

•         the signature of the Cotonou Agreement with the ACP countries, thus including the Caribbean region;

•         the adoption of Association Agreements with Mexico and Chile, and the ongoing EU negotiations with Mercosur to the same effect;

•         the recent conclusion of Political Dialogue and Co-operation Agreements with Central America and with the Andean Region which, when ratified, will replace the existing EU Framework Co-operation agreements with the countries of both regions;

•         the recent launch of the negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Caribbean region;

•         the quintupling of the development co-operation resources devoted by the EU to the LAC region between the late 1980s.

EU co-operation with the region (UPDATE NEEDED ON THAT PAGE) in the fight against the consumption, production and trafficking of drugs has benefited from this strengthening of relations between the EU and Latin America. The new generation of agreements linking both sides of the Atlantic allows now for a broad and comprehensive approach for the fight against illicit drugs, addressing all related aspects including money laundering, precursors’ control and HIV/AIDS. As a result, anti-drugs co-operation has reached levels never attained in the past, and has manifested in four main areas of action as regards external relations: technical dialogue, political dialogue, trade policy and development co-operation initiatives.

Technical dialogue on precursors

To the extent that the diversion of precursor chemicals play a key role in making possible the manufacturing of illicit drugs, the EU has signed agreements with a limited number of countries to prevent this diversion. The earliest agreements were concluded in the mid 1990s with the five countries which are members of the Andean Community; agreements have also been signed with Chile, and Mexico (as well as with the US and Turkey).

These agreements have established mechanisms for easier communication and exchanges of information between the authorities in both the EU and its partners as regards the mutual trade of chemicals that could conceivably be used for the illegal manufacturing of cocaine, heroine and synthetic drugs.

Periodic meetings (namely every year), chaired by the European Commission for the European side, take place among chemical precursors’ expertsfrom both the EU and the Andean region to monitor the implementation of the precursors’ agreements between them and to discuss the need for including/removing certain chemicals in the list of those to be monitored.

Political and policy dialogue on drugs

As regards drug fighting, policy dialogue with the region has been reinforced since the mid 1990s with the establishment of mechanisms that, building on the notion of shared responsibility, have broken new ground in EU relations with both Latin America and the Caribbean and with third countries.

Thus, a Specialised High-level Dialogue on drugs was established between the EU and the Andean region in 1995. The main manifestations of this dialogue have been the High Level meetings of Rome (1996), Brussels (1997), Cartagena (1998), Lima (2000), Brussels (2002), Cartagena (2003) and Brussels (2004). UPDATE NEEDED These meetings are usually, organised ‘back-to-back’ to the meetings, referred to above, of EU and Andean precursors experts to monitor the implementation of the precursors’ agreements signed between the EU and each Andean country.

As regards the Caribbean, the EU was the main financial contributor to the 1996-2001 Barbados Plan of Action, with a grant of €20 million out of an overall estimated cost of €35 million. This Action Plan, which in addition to the Caribbean countries was supported by the Commission, the US, Canada and a number of EU Member States, included supply and demand reduction components. Policy dialogue on drugs between the EU and the Caribbean continues to take place primarily in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement at both the national and regional levels. UPDATE

To reinforce the dialogue on drugs between the Latin American and Caribbean region at large and the EU, aCo-ordination and Co-operation Mechanism was also established between both regions in 1998 after the notion for such a mechanism was launched at the Madrid EU Summit of December 1995. This mechanism brings together officials responsible for drug matters in the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is the only thematic forum that the parties maintain for an institutionalised dialogue. Equally significant, it is one of the very few region-to-region fora that any of these parties maintains in the specific area of international drug fighting. Still, comparable mechanisms meet, though less frequently, in the framework of EU-ASEAN relations, and the CICAD - the “Drug Commission of the Americas”-, which includes the Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as Canada and the US, also meets annually.

In addition to a number of meetings at the technical level every year, Senior-Level meetings of this Mechanism have taken place in Cartagena (2003), Dublin (2004), Lima (2005), Vienna (2006), Port of Spain (2007) and Hofburg (2008).

A Plan of Action was adopted in Panama in April 1999 and endorsed by the EU-LAC Summit of Rio of June 1999. Five fields of activity were identified in this Action Plan: 1) demand reduction; 2) supply reduction (alternative development and eradication; precursor and licit drug control); 3) police, customs and judicial co-operation and drug-related arms-trafficking; 4) money laundering; 5) judicial organisation and drug legislation and institutional capacity-building. For the reinforcement of inter-regional co-operation, actions were suggested as regards: 1) demand reduction; 2) judicial, police and customs co-operation; 3) maritime co-operation, 4) precursors' control; and 5) money laundering. Finally, four priority areas were selected at the next meeting of the Mechanism in Lisbon in May 2000: 1) demand reduction, 2) alternative development, 3) money laundering and 4) maritime co-operation. They have been confirmed at the meetings of Mechanisms that have taken place since then. The EU-LAC Summits of Madrid (2002) and Guadalajara (2004) highlighted the importance and role of this mechanism. UPDATE

Supporting sustainable development opportunities through trade

In the area of trade policy , the EU has adopted since the early 1990s a particularly favourable set of trade preferences (the "GSP-Drugs scheme") that has granted duty-free and unlimited access to the countries in the Andean and Central American regions (and, more recently, Pakistan as well) for virtually all of their commodities of export interest. The objective of this trade regime has been, and remains, to help these countries diversify their production and export base away from illicit drugs by providing alternative sources of livelihood and reducing the incentives for drug cultivation and trafficking.

Thanks to this scheme, as well as the progressive erga omnes liberalisation of EU trade policy, 90% of Andean and Central American exports enter now duty free into the European Union. The scheme has always been understood as offering positive incentives for these countries to continue their fight against drugs in the knowledge that one of their major partners supports their efforts.

In this regard, the GSP has played and continues to play an important role in encouraging beneficiary countries to undertake legislative actions and policy measures to restrict the role of drugs in their societies. Notwithstanding the above, the scheme, while highly valued by the Central American and Andean exporters and administrations, has been less successful than hoped for in expanding the beneficiary countries’ export base as most of their exports still remain concentrated in traditional commodities. In view of recent developments at the WTO, which have put the current GSP-Drugs scheme into question, the Commission is currently exploring ways and means to continue granting these trade preferences as far, and as long, as possible.

Implementing the Panama Action Plan through co-operation projects UPDATE NEEDED

a) General overview

The European Commission (as well as EU Member States) has devoted considerable resources to implementing the Panama Action Plan, which has guided its action since it was adopted.

Available data show that current co-operation efforts by both the Commission and Member States are quite substantial. Indeed, the LAC region continues to be, by far, the main beneficiary of EU external efforts in the fight against drugs. Within the entire region, the main beneficiaries are the Andean countries, which have received, and continue to receive, important support from both the Commission and Member States as regards alternative development programs, and have also benefited from Member States’ significant institution building assistance, etc…. Next in line is the Caribbean, which has also received significant support from these partners in demand reduction, institution building and the strengthening of law enforcement.

The stock of drug projects financed by the European Commission and the EU in Latin America and the Caribbean at the end of 2001, last year for which estimates for the entire EU are available, has been estimated to have exceeded 240 million €, of which about 2/3 corresponded to Member States and 1/3 to the Commission. While, due to methodological difficulties, year-to-year comparisons have to be addressed with great care, the current stock of Commission financed drug projects among the cocaine route was about 120 million € at the end of 2003.

EU drug projects in the LAC region cover all major areas of intervention and concern, even though the accent differs. Thus, Member States as a group have placed a stronger emphasis on policy development (which, in 2001, accounted for about 2/3 of all of their funding), than on alternative development (which accounted for about 15% of all their financing).

As of December 2003, the last time for which the European Commission has carried out a stock-taking exercise, the number of projects in stock (all in the form of grants) had stabilized at 21 (after falling from 45 in 2001, to 23 in 2002), as a large number of relatively small projects had come to completion. The total value of projects in stock, which had risen to 121 million € in 2002 (up from 88 million € a year earlier) remained stable one year later.

In contrast with the EU Member States, the Commission’s strongest effort remains on alternative development initiatives, which the Commission supports as a complement to, even though independent from, the coca eradication efforts of beneficiary countries. A second area of concentration for the Commission is demand reduction. Both of these areas are among the five fields of activity identified by the Panama Action Plan for cooperation between the EU and LAC. Although to a lesser extent, the Commission has financed projects also in the other three fields of activity identified in the Panama Action Plan. In particular, there currently is a project on precursors control, another on anti-money laundering measures, and another focusing on forensic aspects of supply control.

b) The projects in detail

Among the most important alternative development projects currently being financed, and coherent with the objectives and priorities of the Panama Action Plan, even though some of them were launched before this plan was adopted, are the following:

  • PRAEDAC, which supports alternative development efforts in Bolivia’s Chapare region (Trópico de Cochabamba). Endowed with 19 million €, it has four components: municipal strengthening (by improving social and productive infrastructures and providing staff training); facilitation of rural credit; establishment of a Cadastral Survey and Land Titling program to facilitate small farmers’ ownership of their land; and rational management of natural resources.
  • PRODEVAT, which supports alternative development in Bolivia’s Valleys of Arque and Tapacari, which are two provinces in the Department of Cochabamba, with a 6 million € grant. This project, which is established in an area close to the Chapare, seeks to prevent the migration to the latter of workers tempted by their extreme poverty to move and to cultivate coca in the Chapare. It also has four components, which cover: improvement of agricultural and livestock production; improvement of access to markets; social infrastructures (particularly as regards health and education); and municipal strengthening.
  • APEMIN I and II, which support small mining companies, and promote alternative employment opportunities, in the depressed mining areas of the Departments of La Paz, Oruro and Potosi in Bolivia with grants amounting to 5 million € and 7 million €, respectively. As the PRODEVAT project, it tries to prevent migration to the coca producing area of the Chapare. The program seeks in some cases to revive small mining operations and in others to diversify economic activity away from mining and towards sustainable economic initiatives in the tourist, services and manufacturing sectors. It provides training for both miners and municipal employees, supports credit/leasing schemes and strengthens basic infrastructures.
  • POZUZO-PALCAZU, which is a 22.6 million € project for the areas of Pozuzo and Palcazu of Peru. It finances infrastructure efforts (mainly roads and electricity lines) to facilitate access to markets, as well as the development of productive initiatives (particularly in farming, cattle-raising and forestry) that exploit the comparative advantages of these regions while respecting their ecological balance. For its own success, it also foresees the creation and strengthening of representative mechanisms of the beneficiary populations.
  • CARTOGRAPHY, which is a 8 million € project that provides equipment, training and technical assistance for the installation of a satellite information system that complements the Commission’s support for alternative development and will allow the Government of Colombia to identify better the areas where coca and opium are planted, and thus determine where its eradication efforts should best be addressed.
  • Originally launched in 2002, in direct response to both the priorities expressed by the Panama Action Plan and the need to provide a solution to the armed conflict in Colombia, there are two broad initiatives that seek to promote alternative development in the widest sense in two regions in this country as part of the PEACE LABORATORY initiative. The first of these projects is based in Magdalena Medio and is implemented in two phases over an 8-years span. Total European Commission funding is 34.8 million €. The second of these projects covers the regions of Santander Norte, Oriente Antioqueño and Macizo Colombiano/Alto Patia. It benefits from a 33 million € contribution from the Commission and will run up to 2008. Both programs seek to contribute to the peace process in Colombia by supporting, through the civil participation of the entire society, municipalities and other local institutions, the economic, political and social transformation of the regions in question, which in addition to being strategic in the country’s armed conflict, concentrate a great proportion of coca cultivation.

As for demand reduction, a 1.9 million € project, for the prevention of drugs in Venezuela is currently been implemented. It foresees the establishment of a Drugs Monitoring Centre that will be equipped and prepared to carry out epidemiological studies on the extent and patterns of drug consumption in the country.

Nonetheless, where Commission support for demand reduction efforts has been the strongest, and again in application of the Panama Action Plan, has been in the Caribbean. Even though the Barbados Plan of Action has come to an end, a number of small demand reduction projects have been concluded not long ago and are still being implemented in this region. Particularly relevant among the former are:

  • The Epidemiological Surveillance System, a 1.3 million € project, finished in June 2003, that was implemented by the Caribbean Regional Epidemiological Centre in Trinidad (CAREC) with the aim of improving epidemiological drugs research in the region by providing training, conducting school surveys and initiating Rapid Situational Assessments.
  • A treatment and rehabilitation project which was funded by a 657.000 € grant (out of a 8.000.000 € budget) and was implemented, until June 2002, by DOHi. This German NGO worked with local NGOs in seven Caribbean countries and focused on the development of street-based interventions and income generating activities for drug users in treatment.

Among those still under implementation are:

  • A 1 million € multi-country programme is being implemented to complement Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ current actions in drug demand reduction. Carried out by the corresponding National Drug Council in each beneficiary country, the programme focuses on strengthening institutional capacity to address drug abuse at various levels, raising public awareness of matters related to abuse prevention and control, and promoting greater community involvement in drug demand reduction efforts.
  • In addition, a 1.990.000 € project launched in August 2002 and also implemented by DOHi, aims at reinforcing the support to the Caribbean NGOs in expanding their street-based intervention, in addressing health related issues such as the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst their clients, and in networking and exchanging expertise and practices with Asian NGOs that have been working for several years with similar populations of drug users.
  • The same approach was adopted for financing a similar project implemented by Caritas Germany since August 2002 in Latin America and the Caribbean (Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Haiti), with a Commission contribution of 774.000 €. This project, of a three years duration, aims at supporting local NGOs working with drug users on prevention, treatment and harm reduction, in building networks of care and in exchanging best practices among NGOs at local and international levels.
  • UNESCO is also implementing a parallel project (with an EC contribution of 1.200.000 €) to develop best practices in the field of drug demand reduction, by supporting innovative interventions of local NGOs working with drug users populations in several countries of the Caribbean and Asia in the field of prevention and non-formal education.

As for precursors’ control, a 215.000 € project, finished last year, was funded in the Caribbean as part of the Barbados Action Plan, yet consistent again with the priorities later expressed by the Panama Action Plan. This project, under the name of Precursors’ Control Mechanism was executed by the Inter-American Drugs Commission (CICAD) and sought to provide a system to monitor and control the movements of precursors throughout the region.

In addition, a 1.6 million € project, decided in December 2002 and in response to the priorities highlighted by the Panama Action Plan, seeks to strengthen the Andean region's capabilities to avoid the diversion of chemical precursors by providing training and technical assistance to administration officials in these countries and encouraging a closer co-operation with the private sector (industrial users as well as importers), to monitor the flow of precursors that might be suspect of being diverted for illegitimate use.

As for money laundering, efforts to address this problem were embodied in one of the three components of a broader package for anti-drugs co-operation and technical assistance to the Andean region, which was launched by the Commission shortly before the Panama Action Plan, and it is now completed. This 210.000 € anti-money laundering component provided a thorough overview of the situation in the Andean countries, compared their respective legislations and assessed their conformity with international provisions in this regard.

A money laundering initiative is also still being financed in the Caribbean by the Commission in the context of the Barbados Action Plan, with a 4 million € contribution to the Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering Programme (whose budget is 7.6 million € and has been co-funded by the US and the UK). Its objective is to provide technical assistance and training to the beneficiary countries, all of which are members of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.

As regards maritime co-operation, the Commission contributed to the Barbados Plan of Action through several projects. A Project Management Office for Maritime Co-operation was financed in part by the Commission with a 300.000 € grant (out of a 1.5 million € budget). The office supported a network of intelligence agencies, a training programme, and equipment to ensure more effective counter-drug maritime interdiction efforts. A Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council Regional Clearance system was also financed in part by the Commission (to the tune of 300.000 €, out of a total of 1.3 million €). It sought to organise the collective analysis and dissemination of information related to the movement of small vessels (as well as light aircraft) with the Caribbean so as to improve enforcement efforts by customs and coast guards.

Looking ahead

The Commission intends to continue focusing on the implementation of the Panama Action Plan.

As regards alternative development, the Commission has already programmed a new project that will devote 14 million € to support alternative development in Bolivia’s coca-growing Yungas region, second in importance to the Chapare's. Beyond 2006, the Commission and the Bolivian Government could conceivably consider undertaking a new phase for the PRAEDAC project as well. As for Colombia, a third Peace Laboratory might be programmed.

For the Caribbean, the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme for 2003-2007, which is financed under the European Development Fund, foresees to devote a 3-4 million € envelope to assist regional institutions to plan, co-ordinate and monitor demand and supply reduction efforts throughout the region. Specific actions to be funded may include institutional support to the CARICOM Secretariat in its drugs policy coordination role, and a possible follow up to the ongoing Regional anti-Money Laundering Project. Discussions are on-going now between the European Commission and its Caribbean partners, and no definitive decision has yet been taken on the exact format of the EC support.

Finally, in response to concerns expressed by the Andean Community, as well as the EU’s Ministers of Justice and Home Affaires commitment to address the challenges posed by ATS, the Commission is giving shape to a new regional initiative for the Andean region on synthetic drugs, which will likely contain both supply and demand components.

Related documents

1. Review of the Panama Action Plan (Port of Spain Declaration)

2. Annual reports of the EU-LAC Drugs Mechanism

3. Meeting reports of the Technical Committee of the EU-LAC Drugs Mechanism









4. October 2001 : 2 reports

5. Description of inter-regional drug projects in the framework of EU-LAC Cooperation:

6. EU Drugs Matrix for the LAC region

EU assistance against drugs in the Latin American – Caribbean region (2006) MIGRATE

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