Home > What is the Pompidou Group?

Pike, Brigid (2015) What is the Pompidou Group? Drugnet Ireland, Issue 54, Summer 2015, pp. 9-10.

PDF (Drugnet Ireland 54)

The Pompidou Group is an intergovernmental drug policy think-tank and champion of evidence-based drug policy. Formed over 40 years ago, it has spearheaded many new initiatives subsequently taken over by other agencies. For example, the concepts of monitoring trans-national drug abuse and indicator development were introduced by the Pompidou Group, and then taken over by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Methods to measure the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs were developed by the Pompidou Group, and the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) is now an independent programme that serves governments in 51 countries as the principal data source on drug-use trends.1

Pompidou Group extends its ‘sphere of influence’

  • 1971: The Pompidou Group (Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs) was formed at the instigation of the French President Georges Pompidou. Initially, this informal forum consisted of seven European countries – France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – looking to share their experience of combating drug abuse and drug trafficking. Ireland joined on becoming a member of the European Community in January 1973.
  • 1980: The Pompidou Group was incorporated into the institutional framework of the Council of Europe and cooperation was subsequently extended to include new countries. Today the Pompidou Group comprises 37 member states. (See separate box listing member countries.)
  • 1990s: The Pompidou Group began to extend technical co-operation to countries in central and eastern Europe which are not members of the Pompidou Group, most recently to Albania, Latvia and Ukraine. In addition, the Group began to invite non-European countries, such as Canada, the USA, Australia and Mexico, to take part in activities, as well as other international bodies such as the European Union, the European Commission and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. The Holy See also cooperates on an ad hoc basis.
  • 2006: The Pompidou Group began developing co-operation activities for and with non-member states from the Mediterranean Basin such as Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.

As its ideas have been taken up by other agencies, the Pompidou Group has had to reinvent itself, not least in the last four years. In wrapping up the 2010–2014 work programme during the French presidency of the Pompidou Group, Executive Secretary Patrick Penninckx described this reinvention:2

The Pompidou Group has a long tradition in Research, work in Prison settings, work with front line professionals, gender issues, training and capacity building. These traditions were re-invigorated with specific programmes. New areas were explored and flexible working methods introduced. We were all alert to new developments and reacted to them quickly. We provided a space to explore, to question, to debate. … The constructive interaction between all stakeholders created a favourable environment to work with trust and endeavour which allowed the Pompidou Group to develop and continue to provide added value to Member States.

Cleary the Pompidou Group continues to provide added value in the following fields: Providing a forum for open debate, linking policy, research and practice, playing a precursor role with innovative ideas together with multidisciplinary and transversal approaches, and acting as a bridge with the European neighbourhood through multi-lateral activities.

Table 1 illustrates how the Pompidou Group provides a unique forum in which countries can explore new ideas in a climate of openness and trust. Ireland has participated in a number of these activities, being represented either at official level or at non-official level, for example by an expert in a specialist field or by a member of a civil society organisation. 

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Issue Title
Issue 54, Summer 2015
July 2015
Page Range
pp. 9-10
Health Research Board
Issue 54, Summer 2015

Repository Staff Only: item control page