Home > EU sets priorities for drug policy 2009–2012.

Pike, Brigid (2009) EU sets priorities for drug policy 2009–2012. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 29, Spring 2009, pp. 25-26.

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On 8 December 2008 the European Council endorsed the EU drugs action plan for 2009-2012.1 While using the same five activity areas as the previous action plan (co-ordination, demand reduction, supply reduction, international co-operation, and research, information and evaluation), the new plan reduces the number of objectives from 45 to 24 and increases the number of actions from 61 to 72.2 As a result, the EU's drug policy priorities for the next four years are more clearly defined than previously. Some key innovations with implications for Ireland's drugs policy are noted below.

Create a European Alliance on Drugs
Having established the European Civil Society Forum on Drugs in 2006,3 the European Commission will now form a European Alliance on Drugs. This alliance will allow civil society organisations from across the EU, including schools, commercial enterprises, public bodies and non-governmental organisations, to participate in a common framework designed 'to create public commitment about and to take action on drug problems in society'. The action plan also calls on member states to involve civil society at all appropriate levels of drugs policy, 'in accordance with national practices'.
Seek an EU consensus on minimum standards for demand reduction activities
The action plan lists 10 actions to be implemented by member states, covering all aspects of demand reduction - prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration. Harm reduction measures are included to reduce both the spread of blood-borne infectious diseases and the number of drug-related deaths in the general population, and health-related harms associated with drug use in prison. Member states are to pay particular attention to meeting the needs of vulnerable and minority groups and to preventing polydrug use (combined use of illicit and licit substances, including alcohol, volatile substances and tobacco).
 At EU level there will be a drive to enhance the quality and effectiveness of these activities. Member states will be requested to survey the availability and effectiveness of prevention, treatment, harm reduction and rehabilitation services, in responding to specific needs, using a methodological framework to be developed by the European Commission. The Commission will then seek to develop an EU consensus on minimum standards and benchmarks.
Achieve a measurable improvement in effectiveness of supply reduction activities
Nineteen actions focus on enhancing co-operation between law enforcement agencies and the judiciary in the member states in tackling the production and trafficking of drugs, including the manufacture and supply of synthetic drugs and the diversion of trafficking of drug precursors.
 The need to improve responsiveness to emerging threats, such as new drugs or new trafficking routes, is emphasised. Regional security platforms are to be set up where and when needed. MAOC-N (Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre - Narcotics), of which Ireland, which controls some 16% of the EU's territorial waters, was a founding member in 2007, is cited as an example of this type of mechanism. Moreover, member states and regions with high exposure to 'particular drug production/trafficking phenomena' are to be the focus of co-ordinated and joint efforts at EU level.
Promote the European balanced approach to the drugs problem worldwide
The action plan includes four actions calling for better co-ordination and continuity between EU and member state policy positions in international forums on aspects of drug policy. An agreed EU position, reflecting the fundamental principles of EU drug policy, is to be presented at the high-level segment of the 52nd Session of the UN's Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), to be held in Vienna in March 2009. This Session will see the final evaluation of, and agreement on the follow-up to, UNGASS 1998; the EU is seeking to have the EU position included in the new UN Political Declaration on illicit drugs.4
 Improve understanding of the drugs problem
The action plan asserts that improved understanding will lead to an expanded knowledge base both for public policy and for citizens' awareness of the social and health implications of illicit drug use. The European Commission is to take the lead in (1) establishing research priorities and identifying mechanisms to generate new knowledge and to put a proposal on this matter to the European Council; (2) developing indicators/measures of drug-related crime, illegal cultivation, drug markets and supply reduction interventions, and identifying means of collecting the relevant data; and (3) devising analytical instruments to better assess the effectiveness and impact of drug policy, e.g. model evaluation tools, policy effectiveness indices, and public expenditure analysis.
Member states are charged with evaluating and fine-tuning national drug policies on a regular basis, and with providing the necessary resources to meet the reporting obligations and quality standards established by the EMCDDA for the provision of national data  required for monitoring and evaluation purposes. (
 1. European Council (8 December 2008) EU drugs action plan 2009-2012. Official Journal of the European Union (2008/C 326/09), 20 December 2008.
2. For information on the previous action plan, see B Pike (2005) EU action plan on drugs 2005-2008. Drugnet Ireland, (14): 3.
3. For information on the work of the Forum, see B Pike (2008) EU civil society forum discusses new EU action plan on drugs. Drugnet Ireland, (27): 23.
4. For background information on UNGASS 1998, see B Pike (2008) UN assesses progress in tackling world drug problem. Drugnet Ireland, (26): 25-26.
Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 29, Spring 2009
Page Range
pp. 25-26
Health Research Board
Issue 29, Spring 2009
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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