Feedback from the 7th EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs

The latest forum facilitated by the European Commission took place in Brussels on 19th and 20th April 2012.

Update on European Commission's work and the EU Drug Strategy

Paola Tardioli-Schiavo, from the European Commission opened the forum by providing a general update on the work of the European Commission's Anti-Drug Directorate. She spoke of how over the next 2-3 years, the commission will be accelerating the work on drugs so that they can deliver their dossiers sooner than expected. Mainly, they are working on re-building two main legislative instruments, the first piece on psychoactive substances, which they hope to deliver before the summer and the second on drug trafficking, which is not expected before the start of 2013.

Maurice Galla, also from the European Commission presented the evaluation of the EU Drugs Strategy (2005-2012), where he explained that the evaluation had shown some successes of the strategy in the area of drug demand reduction, drug related mortality and HIV but stated that there was still limited evidence in this regard. In terms of the areas of prevention and treatment, he said the evaluation had shown these objectives to have been influential but that there were still significant differences in implementation across Member States. In terms of supply reduction, the evaluation had showed that new member states had used the EU strategy as a model for policy development but that there was a problem with a lack of evaluation indicators within the strategy.

In relation to what people thought was most useful about the EU Drugs Strategy, 73% had said that law enforcement co-operation with non-EU countries had been crucial and the same percentage stated that international visibility and co-operation had been one of most important elements of the EU work on drugs.

In terms of overall demand and availability of drugs, Marucie reflected that there had been little change in EU patterns, reflecting the EMCDDA's reports of a relatively stable use in recent years and spoke of the difficulties in evaluating the impact of EU policies at a local level. A further document, which is useful in identifying the main trends and changes in the European drug situation, is the EMCDDA's newly released Trend Report.

The main benefits of the EU strategy, according to the evaluation carried out by RAND, were the EU's ability to co-ordinate, improve co-ordination and link to available evidence and it was suggested that international co-operation should continue to be a strong theme in the next EU strategy.

There was some commentary about how member state policies had slowly begun to converge in recent years. When asked whether they thought the EU would work jointly on drugs and alcohol, the staff from the European Commission felt like this was not wanted by member states at the EU level, even though some countries had developed a broad addiction strategy at a national level.

In terms of the future EU Drugs Strategy, it and the first action plan should be in place by July 2013.

EU Drug Prevention and Information Programme

It was announced that grants for work carried out by NGO's through the Drug Prevention and Information Programme will also be available in 2013, probably in the first half of the year. At this stage, it is unknown whether this programme will be available in 2014 but that the decision for whether this programme would continue would lie with the Member States and the European Parliament.

Fay Watson and Boro Goic were representing EURAD at this meeting. For further information, please e-mail eurad@eurad.net