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A harmonized European forensics approach on drugs analysis
Horizon Europe - Cluster 3 - Destination 1: Better protect the EU and its citizens against Crime and Terrorism
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
Projects are expected to develop a harmonized European forensics approach on drugs analysis, helping to tackle drug-related problems such as overdoses, violence, kidnapping or human trafficking cases and increase the perception of citizens in public and private spaces that Europe is an area of freedom, justice and security.
Proposals are expected to address one of the following options:
Option A: A harmonised European approach is needed on the study of chemical analysis (composition) in drugs, to
1) facilitate the cross-matching of seized drugs to labs and the establishment of links between cases, including by developing protocols to quickly exchange information on new substances;
2) tackle forensic challenges related to illicit drugs-related overdoses.
The production of synthetic drugs in the EU is continuously expanding. The laboratories producing synthetic drugs are becoming more professional and versatile, resulting in an increased production and a greater flexibility in terms of which substances are produced, how they are produced and how/where they are sold.
On the one hand, criminal networks and criminals active in the production of synthetic drugs display a particularly high degree of specialisation. Thus, a modern and harmonised European approach to the analysis of the drugs composition would help to crossmatch seized drugs and illegal drugs markets to labs and make the links between cases, allowing a cross-border exchange of such evidence.
On the other hand, choosing appropriate responses that are likely to be effective in dealing with a particular drug-related problem requires a clear understanding of the problem, supported by the strongest available evidence. However, an obstacle in this process is the very limited or fully absent evidence, as it is the case in finding responses aimed at reducing overdose-related deaths. Namely, autopsies with full toxicology are underdeveloped in many Member States, making comparison at EU level difficult and aggregated numbers on overdose deaths not fully representative. Member States called to make this issue more comparable EU-wide. To this end, a modern chemical analysis of the drugs composition and a unified EU-wide approach would provide a significant support, also in view of commitments of the EU Drugs Strategy 2021-2025.
Option B: A reliable and easy-to-use detection of chemical submission drugs in beverages and urine.
GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is one of the drugs known as “club drugs” or “date rape drugs”. Notably when mixed with alcohol, it has a depressant effect and causes drowsiness, rendering the person defenceless and unable to remember what happened. Sexual assaults facilitated by chemical submission drugs have a growing tendency in Europe. Thus, Police Authorities and forensic practitioners need modern methods and technologies that enable better prevention against and investigation of different forms of violence and assault supported by these drugs. To this end, the successful proposal should aim at developing wearable, reusable, portable sensors and/or kits that would provide a fast response, without the need for additional instrumentation, and would be easy to use by Police Authorities in the field (i.e., in places where citizens are more at risk of ingesting GHB drugs through drinks and beverages). Furthermore, such solutions should provide results that are reliable, safe and simple to interpret when looking for and collecting evidence of such drugs that can be used in court. Gender-related impacts as well as legal and ethical challenges of such solutions should be fully considered in the development process.
Coordination among the successful proposals from this topic should be envisaged in order to avoid duplication and to exploit complementarities as well as opportunities for increased impact. Similarly, coordination with projects funded under HORIZON-CL3-2022-BM-01-03: Better, more portable and quicker analysis and detection for customs and HORIZON-CL3-2023-BM-01-04: Interoperability of systems and equipment at tactical level; between equipment and databases; and/or between databases of threats and materials would be welcome.
Proposals funded under this topic are expected to engage with the Europol Innovation Lab during the lifetime of the project, including validating the outcomes, with the aim of facilitating future uptake of innovations for the law enforcement community.
Projects’ results are expected to contribute to some or all of the following outcomes:
- European Police Authorities, forensic institutes and other relevant security practitioners are equipped by modern means of chemical analysis (composition) in drugs aimed at facilitating the cross-matching of seized drugs to labs and the establishment of links between cases, including by developing protocols to quickly exchange information on new substances;
- Improved and uniform EU-wide approach for the collection of evidence regarding illicit drugs-related overdoses, that would allow for choosing adequate responses in countering the drug-related problems;
- Improved collection and availability of forensic evidence, that could be used in court by the authorities, in direct violence, kidnapping or human trafficking cases, as well as reinforced prevention of such cases thanks to sensors/kits that are reliable, lawful, fast and easy-to-use;
- Enhanced perception of citizens in public and private spaces that Europe is an area of freedom, justice and security.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
This topic requires the active involvement, as beneficiaries, of at least 2 Police Authorities and 2 forensic institutes from at least 3 different EU Member States or Associated Countries. For these participants, applicants must fill in the table “Information about security practitioners” in the application form with all the requested information, following the template provided in the submission IT tool. To ensure a balanced portfolio, grants will be awarded to applications not only in order of ranking but at least also to one project that is the highest ranked within each of the two options (Option A and Option B), provided that the applications attain all thresholds.
If projects use satellite-based earth observation, positioning, navigation and/or related timing data and services, beneficiaries must make use of Copernicus and/or Galileo/EGNOS (other data and services may additionally be used).
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 6-7 by the end of the project.
For the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), the following definitions apply:
- TRL 1 — Basic principles observed
- TRL 2 — Technology concept formulated
- TRL 3 — Experimental proof of concept
- TRL 4 — Technology validated in a lab
- TRL 5 — Technology validated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 6 — Technology demonstrated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 7 — System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- TRL 8 — System complete and qualified
- TRL 9 — Actual system proven in an operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies, or in space)
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.