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The EU drugs action plan (2005-08)
In order to counter the drugs problem from the standpoint of both health protection and enforcement, the action plan provides all the European bodies concerned with guiding principles to help them fix their priorities in this area. The guidelines are based on five specific actions: coordination, reduction in demand, reduction in supply, international cooperation and information, research and assessment.
EU Drugs Action Plan (2005-2008) of 8 July 2005 [Official Journal C 168 of 8.7.2005].
This action plan provides a consistent framework at European Union (EU) level for the adoption of enforcement and preventive measures aimed at reducing the supply of and demand for drugs. Its ultimate aim is to significantly reduce the prevalence of drug use among the population as well as to lessen the social harm and damage to health caused by the use of and trade in illicit drugs.
The action plan follows the structure and the objectives of the EU drugs strategy 2005-12, and seeks concrete results in specific priority areas.
For each objective, the Commission sets out the action(s) proposed, the corresponding timetable, the responsible authority, as well as the assessment tool or appropriate indicator. About eighty such actions are provided for.
The actions are based on five priorities:
- coordination of anti-drugs policy at EU level;
- demand reduction;
- supply reduction;
- international cooperation;
- information and research on drugs, and evaluation of the actions undertaken.
The action plan stresses the importance of effective coordination at Community and national levels. In particular, it provides for the adoption of national programmes conforming to the EU strategy and action plans, the appointing of a drugs coordinator within each Member State and the Commission and more involvement by civil society.
Furthermore, the action plan appoints the Horizontal Drugs Group (HDG) as the leading forum in the Council for coordination on drugs and recommends the systematic mainstreaming of drugs policy into relations and agreements with relevant countries.
The Member States and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) must, in particular, extend the scope of drug demand reduction programmes, assess them and disseminate the best practices assessed.
Furthermore, Member States must improve access to prevention programmes in schools and make them more effective. They must also improve prevention methods and the detection of risk factors in certain target groups, especially young people, as well as the dissemination of these data to the professionals in order to implement early intervention programmes.
Member States should also ensure that targeted treatment, re-education and social reintegration programmes that incorporate tested psychosocial and pharmacological strategies are available and accessible and include drug addicts not reached by existing services, with particular attention being paid to specialised services for young people.
The plan also recommends developing further alternatives to imprisonment for addicts and the setting-up of prevention, treatment and reintegration services for prisoners.
As regards the health of drug users, a Commission report on the implementation of Council Recommendation 2003/488/EC concerning the prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug dependence is to be submitted by 2006 at the latest. Member States must also improve access to harm reduction services and treatment, and also set up programmes preventing the propagation of the AIDS virus, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases. They should also endeavour to reduce the number of drug-related deaths.
Reducing supply means improving training for professionals and strengthening police cooperation between Member States and, where appropriate, with Europol, Eurojust and third countries. Achieving this aim will entail:
- implementing operational enforcement programmes (joint investigation teams, etc.) and joint intelligence projects;
- maximum use of the operational and strategic potential of Europol by improving the regularity with which relevant information is sent to the agency and made available to the Member States;
- strengthening controls on the EU's external borders;
- specific measures to deal with the cross-border trade in drugs.
The action plan also contains measures to reduce the production of heroin, cocaine, cannabis and synthetic drugs, as well as trade in them, in particular by implementing operational joint programmes, collecting intelligence on third countries involved in the manufacturing and trading of such drugs, sharing best practice and exchanging information. Measures will also be adopted to combat the diversion and smuggling of drug precursors, such as the implementation of projects like the European joint unit on precursors.
The action plan also covers activities connected with the supply of drugs, chiefly in the form of measures targeted at money laundering and the seizure and re-use of financial products connected with drugs, in particular through exchanges of information and best practices. Similarly, certain measures are aimed at highlighting the links between drug trafficking and the financing of terrorism, as well as at collecting data on the use of information technologies in drug-related criminal activities.
The action plan aims to improve the coordination, effectiveness and visibility of EU action in international organisations and forums such as the United Nations, in particular by presenting joint positions and promoting its drugs strategy.
In addition, particular efforts must be made to improve assistance given to applicant countries, potential applicant countries or countries affected by the neighbourhood policy, in order to implement the acquis in this area or take the necessary action. Such efforts include technical assistance and the signing of appropriate agreements with the countries concerned.
Furthermore, whilst continuing its political commitment and cooperation with regard to third countries concerned by the drugs problem, the EU must intensify its efforts at enforcement, focussing in particular on producer countries and the regions in which the drug trafficking routes are located.
Information, research and evaluation
In order to gain a clearer picture and understanding of the drugs problem, the action plan calls for the supply of reliable information, in particular through the introduction of five key epidemiological indicators. Emerging trends must also be identified, as well as user habits and characteristics of the drugs markets, by means of surveys, Community guidelines and tools for detecting and following up such trends.
The action plan encourages research into the factors underlying dependency and into questions on the effects of certain drugs and effective health measures. The action plan also encourages the setting-up of excellence networks in the field of drug research.
Follow-up of the action plan
Assessment tools and indicators for each action, which were designed with the assistance of the EMCDDA and Europol, will help the Commission to monitor the implementation of the action plan.
The Commission will carry out an impact study in 2008, in order to propose a second action plan for 2009-12. It will conduct a final assessment of the strategy and the action plans in 2012.
The EU anti-drugs strategy, adopted by the Brussels European Council in December 2004, includes a series of measures designed to curb demand for drugs, improve treatments for drug addicts and reduce the availability of illegal drugs. It commits Member States to strengthening the cohesion of their drug enforcement policies. It establishes two consecutive plans between 2005 and 2012. This strategy is an essential element of the Hague Programme, a multiannual programme aimed at strengthening freedom, security and justice in the EU.