The EUROPP team take a look at some of the latest developments in Brussels and across Europe
Charts of the week: Cannabis use and attitudes toward the criminalisation of drugs in Europe
The legalisation/decriminalisation of cannabis has been a long-standing campaign issue for several parties across Europe, with the issue gaining more prominence following the decision of Uruguay to become the first country to formally legalise the growing, selling and consumption of the drug. Recent Eurobarometer data gives some indication of how experiences with cannabis and attitudes toward the criminalisation of drugs vary across the EU. Chart 1 illustrates how use of cannabis varies in different EU countries, with France, the Czech Republic and Ireland showing the highest levels of self-reported use, while Romania, Cyprus and Malta have the lowest levels.
Chart 1: Self-reported cannabis use in EU states (2014)
Note: In all cases except Luxembourg and Hungary combining responses from those who report they have never used cannabis equals 100 per cent. In these two countries there were 1 per cent of respondents who produced ‘don’t know’ or ‘refused’ responses. Figures from Eurobarometer
In terms of attitudes, the survey also asked respondents to indicate their views on the future criminalisation of substances which imitate the effects of illegal drugs (often referred to as ‘legal highs’). The survey provided four possible courses of action: banning substances ‘under any circumstance’; banning substances only if they pose a risk to health; introducing regulation; or taking no action. Chart 2 shows the spread in attitudes across EU states with respect to the most severe course of action, banning substances ‘under any circumstance’, with the hardest line being taken by those in Latvia, Romania and Hungary, while the UK, France and Ireland were the least in favour of banning these substances.
Chart 2: Percentage of respondents in EU states who advocate banning ‘legal highs’ under any circumstance
Note: Figures from Eurobarometer
A new EU banking crisis?
Elsewhere, Raoul Ruparel, writing at Forbes, discusses concerns over Portugal’s largest bank, Banco Espirito Santo, which has experienced debt problems. He argues that only time will tell whether the bank’s problems are a one off or whether it could represent the start of a new EU banking crisis. Open Europe follow up on the bank’s problems, concluding that while there are legitimate concerns, they are mostly specific to the bank itself and unlikely to lead to wider issues in the Eurozone at this stage.
Scandinavians and the EU’s top jobs
Finally, with several of the EU’s remaining ‘top jobs’ expected to be decided at a European Council summit on 16 July, the Economist previews some of the candidates for key positions, including Catherine Ashton’s replacement as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The article notes that several of the most likely figures happen to be Scandinavian, including Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister.
Meanwhile Giles Merritt at Project Syndicate writes that following the tense negotiations over Jean-Claude Juncker’s nomination for President of the European Commission, Juncker’s presidency will be ‘make or break‘ in terms of keeping European citizens on board with the integration process. He argues that the new Commission President will have to prove better at listening to the views of ordinary Europeans than his predecessors.
Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics. Feature image credit: N.ico (CC-BY-SA-3.0)
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