The analysis presented in this report is based on the most recent data available from routine monitoring and describes the drug situation in Europe at the end of 2019. Since then, European countries have been greatly affected by the outbreak and rapid spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The enforcement of restrictive public health measures necessary to curb transmission of the virus have impacted all areas of life including drug use, drug markets and the implementation of law enforcement and health and social responses to the drug phenomenon.

Across Europe, 2020 has seen, to varying degrees, the introduction of restrictive measures unprecedented in peacetime, including closure of non-essential services, border closures, and limitations on the right to assembly and freedom of movement. This situation has had an immediate impact on many behaviours linked to drug use and drug supply, as well as disrupting health provision and some law enforcement activities. Subsequently, the relaxing or lifting of some of the public health measures has created the conditions for a rebound towards the pre-COVID-19 situation. However, at the time of writing, the situation remains volatile and the pandemic continues to have an impact across many key policy areas, including drugs.

Importantly, COVID-19 still poses a major threat to global health and security and is likely to do so for some time. The pandemic is also likely to have, in the medium to long term, an economic and social impact that will have wide-ranging implications, including some for the future problems we are likely to face in the drugs area.