On 5 December 2019, the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD), an expert group of the European Commission, organized a seminar for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) entitled ‘The Future of European Drug Policy’.
The event comes at a time when the EU is facing significant challenges in tackling the illicit drug market. Despite the EU’s efforts to counter the drug problem, drug trafficking and production remain among the most profitable criminal activities in the region, while the health and social harms associated with drug use continue to rise, with more than 8.000 drug-related deaths reported in 2019. Drug-related issues affect millions of people within the EU, bringing with them complex health, security, social and criminal justice issues.
The expiry of the current European Drugs Strategy (2013 – 20) and Action Plan (2017 – 20) represent a key opportunity to be seized by the EU. It is a chance to review successes and failures of European drug policy and to build on the learnings and challenges from the last decade, by continuing to prioritize a drug policy approach grounded in the principles of public health and human rights.
However, civil society expressed concerns that the EU is failing to recognize the importance and cross-cutting nature of drug policy and is now deprioritizing the issue.
During the seminar, the CSFD urged MEPs to undertake the following actions: prioritize health challenges associated with drug use, uphold human rights above all, discuss ongoing debates and policy shifts associated with cannabis regulation, ensure that funding is allocated for drug-related projects beyond 2020 and consider creating an informal group of MEPs interested in European drug policy to track key developments in European drug policy.