Europese Commissie presenteert nieuw Actieplan Drugsbestrijding 2005-2008 (en)

donderdag 17 februari 2005

The European Commission adopted on 14 February a Communication on a EU Drugs Action Plan (2005-2008). The ultimate aim of the Action Plan is to significantly reduce the prevalence of drug use among the EU population and to reduce the social harm and health damage it causes in our societies.

Background

In view of tackling the drugs phenomenon, the EU has opted for a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach which considers this issue from every angle: demand reduction, supply reduction, fight against illicit trafficking and international action. This approach obviously integrates different complementary levels:

  • Within the framework of Community powers (public health, precursor control, money laundering, development aid for third countries)
  • Within the framework of close cooperation between Member States (foreign policy, justice and home affairs)
  • Within the framework of partnership with numerous international organisations.

In 2004, the Commission carried out the final evaluation of the former EU Drugs Strategy and Action Plan on Drugs 2000-2004, in cooperation with the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol.

The Commission assessed for the period 2000-2004 the level of achievement of the activities set out in the Action Plan and the extent to which this met the objectives of the Drugs Strategy. The final evaluation noted improved cooperation between national authorities in the Member States and a clearer awareness of the need to take preventive actions starting from an early age. It also noted a need for further research into the consequences of drug use and addiction, improved implementation of national drugs strategies and further development of joint operations between Member States law enforcement agencies.

The final evaluation also drafted conclusions and proposals for the future. Although the Strategy and the Action Plan are not legally binding it was concluded that they provided an important framework for drug related activities at national and at EU level and a strong incentive for those involved to implement them.

Taking into account the results of the final evaluation, in December 2004 the European Council endorsed the EU Drug Strategy (2005-2012) which sets the framework, objectives and priorities for two consecutive four-year Action Plans to be brought forward by the Commission.

This Strategy is an integral part of the multi-annual programme "The Hague Programme" for strengthening freedom, security and justice in the EU which states that "an optimal level of protection of the area of freedom, security and justice requires multi-disciplinary and concerted action both at EU level and national level...".

This EU Strategy has two general aims with regard to drugs that can be summed up as follows:

  • the EU aims at a contribution to the attainment of a high level of health protection, well-being and social cohesion by complementing the Member States' action in preventing and reducing drug use, dependence and drug-related harms to health and society.
  • the EU and its Member States aim to ensure a high level of security for the general public by taking action against drugs production, cross-border trafficking in drugs and diversion of precursors, and by intensifying preventive action against drug-related crime, through effective cooperation embedded in a joint approach.

On this basis the Commission prepared an EU Action Plan on Drugs for the period 2005-2008.

The problem

The current drug situation in Europe as described in the "Annual report 2004: the state of the drugs problem in the European Union and Norway" by the EMCDDA can be summarized as follows:

  • Increasing numbers demanding treatment for cocaine use. Surveys in EU countries show that between 1% and 10% of young Europeans (15-34 years) report using cocaine at some point in their life, around half of them having done so recently.
  • Signs of heavy cannabis use among teenagers. Cannabis remains the most commonly used illegal drug in the EU with roughly one in five (20%) adult Europeans having tried it at least once in their lifetime. Surveys show that roughly 5-10% of young Europeans have used the drug in the last 12 months.
  • Increase in ecstasy consumption. In some countries ecstasy may be catching up or overtaking amphetamines as Europe's n 2 drug after cannabis. The EU remains one of the world's most important areas for the production of ecstasy.
  • Patterns of problem drug use continue to evolve. Some countries where problem drug users were traditionally chronic opiate addicts, show today increasing numbers of polydrug or stimulant users. Today just under 1% of the European adult population (15-64 years) is considered as problem drug users, totaling between 1.2 and 2.1 million problem drug users in the enlarged EU.
  • Modest, but significant, decline in drug-related deaths. This development is likely to be due to reductions in drug injecting in some countries and increased access to substitution treatment and prevention services.
  • HIV/Aids is declining in some countries but the risk of epidemic spread remains high. Deep concern surrounds the continuing HIV epidemic in some of the new EU Member States and their bordering countries.

An EU Action Plan for 2005-2008

71% of Europeans believe that the decisions on drugs should be taken by the EU.

In view of tackling this complex problem, the Commission proposes a Drugs Action Plan for the period 2005-2008 which should provide a guide to all stakeholders in the EU when setting priorities in the drugs area during the period covered and ensure that the drugs issue receives the necessary high level support.

It also aims at facilitating coordination between the national responses to drug use and to drug trafficking. EU action in the field of drugs should be a tool for ensuring the highest possible level of exchange of knowledge and good practice among Member States.

In terms of the ultimate goal it should be clearly understood that the Action Plan is not an end in itself; even if all the objectives it contains are reached we must conclude that they have failed if the result is not a measurable reduction of the drugs problem in our societies. Therefore, the ultimate aim of the Action Plan is to significantly reduce the prevalence of drug use among the population and to reduce the social harm and health damage caused by the use of and trade in illicit drugs.

Like the Drugs Strategy, the Drugs Action Plan provides a framework for a balanced approach to reducing both supply and demand through a number of specific actions. It also covers a number of cross-cutting themes: international cooperation, research, information and evaluation.

The Action Plan contains a distribution of responsibilities and schedules for their implementation. Clear and measurable assessment tools and indicators have been introduced for each action proposed, to enable proper evaluation. Under this mechanism targets whose deadlines have passed or are unlikely to be met will be clearly identified.

Next steps

On the basis of this structure, the Commission will carry out a continuous and overall evaluation of the measures of the Action Plan, with the support of the EMCDDA and Europol. A progress review will be presented annually to the Council's Horizontal Drugs Group. With a view to proposing a second Action Plan for the period 2009-2012, the Commission will organise an impact assessment in 2008.

This proposal has been sent to the Council and the European Parliament. The Action Plan will be discussed in the Council's Horizontal Group on Drugs, in view of its endorsement by the European Council during the first half of 2005.