EU drugs strategy 2013-20 evaluation

The European Commission launched a consultation to gather stakeholders’ feedback on the EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020 and the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2017-2020, as they are approaching the end of their cycle.

The consultation addresses all main policy areas of the Drugs Strategy, including drug demand and drug supply reduction and three cross-cutting themes, namely coordination, international cooperation and information, research and evaluation. Similar to the entire evaluation exercise, the consultation looks at the effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and coherence of the actions undertaken to cover the areas mentioned, as well as at the achieved EU added value.

The Commission seeks to gather input from a broad range of stakeholders, including public authorities and administrations at national, regional and local levels including customs and law enforcement, academia, anti-drugs and health related civil society and non-governmental organisations, chemical and medical industry representatives, practitioners involved in the drugs or health policy fields and private individuals. Anyone affected by illicit drug use is especially welcome to respond to this public consultation.

You can contribute to this consultation by filling in the online questionnaire. Questionnaires are available in some or all official EU languages. You can submit your responses in any official EU language.

The final results of the evaluation will be used by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council and Member States in the future decision-making process regarding drug policy.

To get more information and contribute to the consultations, please follow this link>>>

European Union 2018 Enlargement Country Reports

Traditionally, the European Commission adopted its annual assessment of the implementation of reforms in the Western Balkan partners and Turkey, together with recommendations on the next steps for those countries, and published its annual country reports.

Accession negotiations have been opened with candidate countries Montenegro (2012), Serbia (2014), and Turkey (2005). North Macedonia is a candidate country since 2005 and Albania since 2014. Bosnia and Herzegovina (application to join the EU submitted in February 2016) and Kosovo* (Stabilisation and Association Agreement entered into force in April 2016) are potential candidates.

The Commission’s Western Balkans Strategy of February 2018 generated a renewed engagement by the EU and its Member States and created new momentum across the region. One year on, the partner countries have made concrete progress and demonstrated commitment to the European perspective, even if the overall uptake of reforms varies.

The Commission estimated that Albania and North Macedonia have embraced the opportunity and delivered on reforms, in particular in the areas identified as crucial by the Council in June 2018. Even though, same like last year, the Commission recommended that the Council opens accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, the Council still haven’t made such move.

The Commission also issued today its Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for membership of the European Union, together with an analytical report that reviews, for the first time, the situation in the country against all standards applicable to EU Member States. The Commission considers that negotiations for accession should be opened once Bosnia and Herzegovina has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria and in particular the political criteria requiring stability of institutions, guaranteeing notably democracy and rule of law.

DPNSEE extracted segments related to drugs from each of the country reports and packed them in one document. Same like in 2018, it is a pity to see that, almost exclusively, except some references to drug abuse prevention and harm reduction in Chapter 28: Consumer and health protection, the reports deal only with law enforcement related to drugs.

The document we prepared is downloadable following this link>>>

Full versions of the Commission’s documents are available following this link>>>

EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis criticizes European Commission’s reflection paper

The EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis issued a statement in response to European Commission’s reflection paper Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030.

The Forum states that the paper is arguably far too little, too late to live up to the expectations on Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote the wellbeing for all at all ages. This is even more so when it comes to stigmatized and marginalized communities who continue to be disproportionally affected by HIV/AIDS, TB and viral hepatitis epidemics. By now we have the knowledge, the tools and the experience to make these epidemics history and to ensure that no-one is left behind. However, political leadership is lacking or waning.

To be a trailblazer and reap the significant medium to long-term human and financial gains that elimination of these epidemics entails, the EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS thinks that the EU needs to:

  • Increase its focus on social dimensions of sustainable development to ensure a reduction in social inequalities, sustainable and fairer health systems and improving health outcomes for all.
  • Adopt an ambitious agenda, implement a strong and budgeted action plan that is aligned with SDGs commitment and targets.
  • Develop a plan that is coordinated with member states and monitored via a sound indicator set aligned with the goal of elimination. This would allow a more accurate interpretation of the desired direction for EU action.
  • The EC could consider data collected by The European Union agency aimed at strengthening Europe’s defences against infectious diseases (ECDC) to provide a proper assessment of performance (e.g. infection rates, treatment coverage, prevention budget, regulatory frameworks). It could integrate ECDC and WHO reporting.
  • Improve coherence between EU policies and actions.
  • Collaborate with third countries to catch up.

To read full statement follow this link>>>>

EU 2018 Enlargement Strategy Paper and Country Reports

The European Commission adopted and published its annual Enlargement Package for the West Balkans and Turkey, including seven country reports , assessing the implementation of the European Union’s enlargement policy.

The Commission also published the Strategy Paper, which indicates that addressing reforms in the area of the rule of law, fundamental rights and good governance remains the most pressing issue for the enlargement countries and includes conclusions and recommendations for each of the country.

The Commission recommended that the negotiations be opened with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, in light of the progress achieved, maintaining and deepening the current reform momentum. These are great news for the two SEE countries and their people.

The current enlargement agenda covers the partners of the Western Balkans and Turkey. Accession negotiations have been opened with candidate countries Montenegro (2012), Serbia (2014), Turkey (2005). Bosnia and Herzegovina (application to join the EU submitted in February 2016) and Kosovo* (Stabilisation and Association Agreement entered into force in April 2016) are potential candidates.

We have extracted segments related to drugs from each of the country reports and packed them in one document. It is a pity to see that almost exclusively, except some references to drug abuse prevention and harm reduction in Chapter 28: Consumer and health protection, the reports deal only with law enforcement related to drugs.

The document we prepared is downloadable following this link>>>

Full versions of the Commission’s documents are available following this link>>>

Tuesday, 13 March – second CND day

Side events

Use of social marketing in promoting online interventions

The event offered by the Governments of Croatia and Finland, the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section.

Chair of the session was Elena Hedoux, Programme Manager of the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe; opening remarks were given by Gilberto Gerra, Chief of Drug Prevention and Health Branch, UNODC and speakers were Mirka Vainikka, Executive Director of “Free from Drugs“, Thomas Kattau, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe and Marko Markus from the Office for Combating Drugs Abuse of the Government of the Republic of Croatia.

Interesting points from the presentations include:

  • Gilberto Gerra: Instead of selling something, companies work on changing behaviour. It doesn’t end with companies speaking only to customers, but customers start speaking with each other. We need to explore how to reach psychonauts 2 (an upcoming platform video game being built on the success of a classic action/adventure platformer; it is an example of a crowdfunding campaign to create a sequel of the success of the initial game)
  • Thomas Kattau: If you invest in on-line tools, you need to invest in marketing these tools. Companies have much more money to invest into (social) marketing than public institutions (not to talk about civil society – our comment).
  • Marko Markus: presented the work of the Office using a Facebook webpage and a special page He underlined that 90% of people who are in need never asked for help!

All presentations of the event are available following this link. More about the event is already available from a special web page prepared by the Office.

Drugs and the darknet

The Government of Bulgaria and the European Union hosted the event to discuss connection between drugs and darknet, a largely anonymous platform for trading a range of illicit goods and service. Chair of the event Svetoslav Spassov, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the UN introduced the issue reminding participants that it is estimated that around 2/3 of the offers on darknet are drug related. The accessibility and quick adaptability of on-line markets pose a growing threat.

Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA Director presented facts from the recent report which shows extreme growth of criminal actions on Internet and darknet especially. EMCDDA discovered in several cases that what was sold was what was promoted. There is a good system of rating the products and sellers. Most of the traffic are done in Germany, UK and The Netherlands. Most of the products are non-cocaine stimulants and new psychoactive substances. Alphabay grew very fast since creation in December 2014 and in two years traffic there was twice bigger than the one of the pioneer Silk Road (which was closed by law enforcement in 2017). Due to anonymity, there is no wholesale at darknet because of the risk connected.

Liamonas Vasiliauskas from the Operations Directorate, Europol confirmed that many vendors offer a variety of drugs. Monthly revenue of 8 major criminal groups on darknet is 10 – 12 million Euro. What Europol don’t know are drug sources, chemicals and equipment, money flows, role of organised crime, etc. Due to darknet, regular post package services grew significantly in recent years. Most of the EU countries don’t have a specific darknet investigation team – Europol designed a model of establishing one. FBI, DEA and Dutch Police closed two networks in operations Bayonet (Silk Road) and GraveSac (Hansa). Europol don’t have information if this seizure of networks caused decrease of traffic or the market quickly recovered.

Peter Mihoc from the European Commission added that one of the main issues is the knowledge gap. Another is lack of equipment needed for operations of law enforcement agencies.

Law enforcement and sustainable drug use prevention

The event was chaired by John Redman, Society for the Advancement of Global Understanding, while panelists included commander Juan Antonio Cano Carrasco, representative of the Spanish Army, Angelo Lange, local law enforcement in Milano, Italy, Dr Christian Mirre, biologist, Foundation for a Drug Free Europe.

Interesting points from the presentations include:

  • John Redman: Spoke about a success of fighting meth problem in Southern California in cooperation between law enforcement and people from communities, including those from Mexico.
  • Juan Antonio Cano Carrasco: They operate as the part of society – and respond to the needs of it. Army is included in the national action plan against drugs. All three Army (VID) are involved: infantry, navy and air forces and coordination is typical army one. Most efforts invest in prevention, working towards a drug free world. Drug tests are performed when joining the army but also regularly, both to officer and all the military (all army is professional). They also have a program of informing their military. They invest in creating a favourable environment so that they don’t get interest to use drugs. One element of the programme is cooperation with communities, on all levels, which includes training, information sharing and free time activities of the military.
  • Angelo Lange: Drug is being sold by people of all different kinds. Milano experienced a dramatic increase of cocaine traffic in 2007. National Police created a special unit, who were not in uniforms to fight the problem in every possible environment. They made a success thanks to anonymous reports from citizens and trust they built with people, including drug users. On contrary they do prevention in a social context. He published a book “Life in dust: drogues, fuck you” in 2010 and a year earlier he recorded a movie “Sbiri” (Caps, in slang). In 2016, a mural was created through a competition of teams reflecting on his book. Also, a theatrical play was set on the basis of his and another author.
  • Christian Mirre: 1.117 US Police departments adopted a partnership program on drug prevention. The same happened in the Czech Republic, South Africa and several other countries. They prepared a curriculum package material translated already in 17 languages.

Other side events

Notes about some interesting side events are available:


Treatment and Harm reduction services in the context of the economic crisis

DPNSEE member organisations Diogenis organised conference “Treatment and Harm reduction services in the context of the economic crisis, developments and challenges” from 19 to 21 October 2017 in Nicosia, Cyprus. The conference aimed to provide knowledge about the developments and challenges concerning
treatment and harm reduction services in the context of the economic crisis in countries of South
and South East Europe and to discuss possibilities which can guarantee the continuity, quality and
further development of services.

This conference is part of the project “New Approaches in harm reduction policies and practices”, financially supported by the European Commission. Transnational Institute from The Netherlands is the lead organisation of the project and partners are Diogenis, Drug Policy Dialogue from Greece, Forum Droghe from Italy and the International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education from Belgium.

Issues discussed at the conference included:

  • The way in which the competent authorities and the responsible service providers reacted to the economic crisis; the role of Civil Society Organisations in this respect and the lessons learned for securing the continuation of harm reduction and treatment services to drug users.
  • Strategies and action plans for effective harm reduction advocacy at the national level.
  • Developments on cannabis policy in South and South East Europe countries. Regulation of cannabis for medical purposes.
  • Decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use.
  • Supervised consumption sites.
  • Recent developments in countries of South and South East Europe.

The conference also paid attention to the new EU Action plan on drugs 2017-2020 and the developments in drug policy on the international level.

Diogenis cooperated with researchers from different countries, who were responsible to conduct interviews based on a research questionnaire and summarize the outcomes of these interviews in a related short report. All reports were collected and presented in a paper which was the background of the discussion at the conference.

Participants were representatives of civil society, national agencies and experts from 12 European countries. They had the opportunity to exchange information, good practices and policies on drugs in their countries as well as Europe-wide, amid economic difficulties and social challenges in Europe.

SPEED DATING: youth organisations and EU grants

The EU Info Point in Belgrade hosted representatives of 37 youth organisations and organisations for youth from 7 cities in Serbia on 28 March for the “Speed dating” event on EU funds. 9 different EU programmes and 2 national were present. The CU Delegation in Serbia, Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Youth Council supported the event.

Participants got interesting information from EIDHR, The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Civil Society Facility (CSF) , COSME (Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SME), Horizon 2020 (EU programme supports research projects, The Office for Cooperation with Civil Society supports projects (in scope of the programme Europe for Citizens), Creative Europe, Erasmus+, TACSO – Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organisations, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Media programme and EU Info Point.


“Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy”: New perspectives for the Drug Policy Network in South East Europe

Since 2010 the Drug Policy Network in South East Europe has functioned with a minimum of financial resources. The award of a grant from the European Commission for 2015, increases the potential for more systematic and adequate advocacy and more structured cooperation between NGOs. The project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South East Europe” is financially supported by the European Commission, DG Enlargement, Regional Cooperation and programmes and co-financed by the Open Society Foundations.

The objectives of the project are:
a. to promote drug policies and drug legislation based on a public health and human rights approach
b. to improve contacts with relevant national and regional authorities in the field of drugs and follow closely the European Union and international drug policy developments. More specific: a. to strengthen cooperation of the NGOs working in the field of drugs, by the creation of a legal umbrella organisation b. to ensure the cohesion of the Drug Policy Network in SEE and undertake joint actions
c. to involve youth and drug users organisations in drug policy and d. To improve the capacity of local NGOs in drug policy issues.

The organisations that initiated this project and are responsible for its implementation are: the partners Aksion Plus (Albania), Margina (Bosnia and Herzegovina), NGO 4life (Montenegro), Prevent (Serbia) and Diogenis as lead organisation (Greece). The project started its activities in January 2015 and will organise until the end of the year several activities in the countries of the Western Balkans.

The main priorities of the first year of the project will be the realisation of a legal umbrella organisation, harm reduction advocacy and capacity building of local NGOs, Drug Law reform initiatives and NGO involvement in drug policy developments in the European Union and worldwide.

Public meetings will be organised in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia on drug strategy and drug legislation in co-operation with universities and the relevant local authorities in these countries. In September 2015 a regional conference will be held about the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs. (April 2016). There will be several contacts with the authorities responsible for drug policy in the countries of the region. The Drug policy Network will try to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the countries in the Western Balkans and follow the political dialogue between them and the European Commission in the framework of the “Action Plan on drugs between the EU and the candidate countries in the Western Balkans and Turkey”.

We hope that during this year we will create the conditions for a coordinated and well-structured Network, make efforts for a good relationship with the authorities and relevant institutions in the field of drugs, react on developments in drug policy at the national, European and international level, enhance policy dialogue and support national and regional partnerships and Networks. The quarterly newsletter will keep interested organisations, institutions and individuals updated on drug policy developments along with news in the website and social media of the network. We will appreciate your feedback on this first issue of the newsletter and hope to improve it in the coming period.

Στιγμιότυπο 2016-05-16, 5.18.59 μ.μ.