Power to ban and regulate legal highs should remain with Member States, not the EU, says Lords

04 November 2013


The House of Lords EU Committee has today called on the European Commission to think again about a new proposed Regulation and Directive to transfer the power to ban and regulate new psychoactive substances from Member States to the European Commission

The Committee shares the Commission’s concerns about the risk that these substances pose to all EU citizens, and supports the EU’s work towards common definitions and information-sharing assisted by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, as well as Europol’s efforts to fight drug trafficking more generally. However, it does not agree that the best place to take decisions to ban new psychoactive substances is at EU level. The Committee considers that the proposed Regulation and Directive do not comply with the principle of subsidiarity, which means that decisions should be made at the lowest appropriate level - in this case, by each Member State.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick, Chair of the Home Affairs, Health and Education EU Sub-Committee, which examined the latest proposals from the Commission, said:

"The aims of the proposed Directive and Regulation are laudable. We share the Commission’s concerns about the risks posed to public health by new psychoactive substances and consider that the EU has an important role to play in helping to tackle the creation, availability and use of new psychoactive substances.

“However, we do not agree that the proposed Directive and Regulation satisfy the principle of subsidiarity. They do not allow the requisite level of flexibility for Member States to respond rapidly to local situations and to make their own decisions about the threats posed by new psychoactive substances and the appropriate response.”

The Committee has laid the report before the House of Lords, which will debate it on Monday 11 November.  If the House agrees, a “reasoned opinion” will be sent to the European Commission and other EU institutions, to signal its concern.

The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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