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The EU drugs strategy (2005-12)
In December 2004, the European Council approved the EU drugs strategy for the period 2005-12. The main aim is to attain a high level of health protection and well-being by complementing Member States’ action in preventing and reducing drug use and drug dependence. It is also intended to ensure a high level of security for the general public by taking action against drug production and cross-border trafficking in drugs, as well as by strengthening EU coordination mechanisms to ensure that measures are complementary at national, regional and international levels.
Note from the Council of 22 November 2004 on the EU Drugs Strategy for the period 2005-2012 [15074/04 – Not published in the Official Journal] (pdf ).
The Council identifies two general aims with regard to drugs:
- the EU seeks to achieve a high level of health protection, well-being and social cohesion by complementing the efforts of Member States to prevent and reduce drug use, dependence and drug-related damage to health and society;
- the EU and its Member States strive to ensure a high level of security for the general public by taking action against drug production, cross-border trafficking in drugs and the diversion of chemical precursors used in drug production, as well as by intensifying preventive action against drug-related crime through effective cooperation embedded in a joint approach.
The strategy concentrates on two policy fields – demand reduction and supply reduction – and on two cross-cutting themes – international cooperation and research, information and evaluation.
Field of action: demand reduction
The following priorities have been identified in the area of demand reduction:
- improving access to and effectiveness of prevention programmes and raising awareness thereof;
- improving access to early intervention programmes or measures;
- improving access to targeted and diversified treatment programmes;
- improving access to services for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Field of action: supply reduction
The following priorities have been identified in the area of supply reduction:
- strengthening EU law enforcement cooperation at both strategic and crime prevention levels;
- intensifying effective law enforcement cooperation between Member States by using existing instruments and frameworks;
- preventing the illicit import and export of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, including to other Member States;
- enhancing law enforcement, criminal investigation and forensic science cooperation between Member States that have common interests and/or face the same drug-related problems;
- intensifying law enforcement efforts directed at non-EU countries, especially producer countries and regions along trafficking routes.
The focus will be on production, illicit (intra-EU) cross-border drug trafficking, criminal networks engaged in these activities and related serious crime. The flow of drugs from the EU to third countries must also be curbed.
Many instruments and frameworks have been established to reduce supply, including the framework decision laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and applicable penalties in the field of drug trafficking, joint investigation teams, the European arrest warrant, Europol and Eurojust, the financial intelligence unit, confiscation of assets measures, and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its Protocols.
Cross-cutting theme: international cooperation
The following priorities have been identified in the area of external relations:
- coordinated, effective and more visible action by the Union in international organisations and fora to enhance and promote a balanced approach to the drugs problem;
- special efforts in relation to the candidate countries and potential candidate countries, such as the countries of the stabilisation and association process;
- assisting third countries, including neighbouring European countries and key drug-producing and transit countries, to be more effective in drug demand and supply reduction, both through closer cooperation among EU-Member States and by mainstreaming drug issues into the general common foreign and security policy dialogue and development cooperation. New cooperation agreements between the EU and third countries should continue to include a specific clause on cooperation in drugs control.
Cross-cutting theme: information, research and evaluation
The following priorities have been identified in the field of information and research:
- improving EU knowledge infrastructure in the field of drugs and consolidating the drug information systems and tools developed over the 2000-04 period, making full use of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol;
- each EU action plan should include priority research topics to be fostered at EU level, taking into account the rapid evolution of the drugs problem.
As regards evaluation, the EU drugs strategy 2005-12 makes clear that it is an integral part of an EU approach to drugs policy that serves to give clear indications about the merits and shortcomings of current actions and activities at EU level.
The action plans should include initiatives that will contribute to the further development of a European coordination mechanism. EU-level coordination of drugs policy should take place through the Council’s Horizontal Drugs Group (HDG), whose function is to prepare a clear and coherent drugs policy for adoption by the Council. If it is to play a leading role in the drugs field, the HDG needs to be kept informed of relevant developments at national level and of activities carried out by other relevant Council working groups.
In 2012, the Commission will organise an overall evaluation of the EU drugs strategy and action plans for the Council and the European Parliament, in cooperation with the EMCDDA, Europol and the Member States.
The current drug situation in the EU is described in the annual reports of the EMCDDA and Europol. The results of the final evaluation of the EU drugs strategy 2000-04 and the action plan on drugs 2000-04 indicate that progress has been made in achieving some of the targets, although the available data does not suggest that there has been a significant reduction in the prevalence of drug use or that the availability of drugs has been substantially reduced.
At its meeting of 17-18 June 2004, the European Council invited the Council to adopt proposals by no later than December 2004 for a new EU drugs strategy for the period 2005-12. This strategy builds on the previous strategy and its action plan, taking into consideration these texts as well as the mid-term evaluation of the action plan, the Council’s response to this evaluation and the results of the final evaluation.