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Pike, Brigid (2004) Drugs in Focus - policy briefing. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 11, June 2004, pp. 22-23.

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No. 12: Evaluation of the European Union’s strategy and action plan (2000–2004) 

 The EMCDDA’s twelfth Drugs in Focus policy briefing was launched in May at the Dublin EU drugs strategy conference, which started the ball rolling for an EU strategy and action plan against drugs post 2004. The final evaluation of the EU drug strategy and action plan 2000–2004, to be conducted by the European Commission with technical assistance from the EMCDDA and Europol, will be a key input into the development of the new strategy and action plan. The EMCDDA’s briefing paper on the evaluation process highlights six points. 

1. Importance of evaluation

 Evaluation isessential for the ‘transparency and legitimacy of public action’, helping to hold the state accountable to its citizens for ‘what it does, how it does it and the results it achieves’. Evaluation also helps identify needs, improve selection, planning and implementation of responses and ensure a more rational allocation of resources.

2. Approach to evaluation

 The evaluation will look at the extent to which actions laid down in the strategy are implemented, the extent to which implementation of the plan meets the objectives of the strategy, and the effects of the strategy on the drug phenomenon.

3. Innovative evaluation tool

 Evaluating the effects of a particular policy on the drug problem is both technically and scientifically challenging.  To rise to this challenge, the EMCDDA and Europol have developed an information baseline or ‘snapshot’ offering an overview of the drug situation and policy measures at the outset of the current action plan (1999). This will be compared with a similar ‘snapshot’ at the close of the plan (2004), enabling trends between the two dates to be traced. 

4. Evaluation at national level 
 Most actions having an impact on the drug situation are the sole competence of the EU member states. Evaluation of the EU drug strategy and action plan will only be fully effective if it draws on evaluations carried out nationally. The briefing urges member states to ‘develop their own evaluation capacities’ with ‘appropriate resources’.

  5. Political dimension of evaluation

 There is more to evaluation than observation and monitoring. It also involves a value judgement, which presupposes prior agreement on the underlying evaluation criteria and their respective weighting. The briefing paper observes: ‘the findings of evaluations are not always exhaustive, do not remove all ambiguities and include a large measure of uncertainty. Frequently they open the door to several possible rational scenarios. An intervention can be optimal from an economic point of view, but costly from a social point of view. Who should be the judge? Certainly not just the scientists or evaluators.’

6. The next EU drugs strategy and action plan

 When European legislators set the objectives and targets for the new strategy and action plan they will have to take into account the results of the evaluation exercise and monitor the priorities adopted by means of a device providing adequate indicators. They will also have to take into account the change in perspective linked to European Union enlargement.

Drugs in Focusis a series of policy briefings published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The briefings are published three times a year in the 20 official languages of the European Union plus Norwegian. An electronic version of Drugs in Focus is available from the EMCDDA website at www.emcdda.eu.int 



Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 11, June 2004
June 2004
Page Range
pp. 22-23
Health Research Board
Issue 11, June 2004
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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