European Council approves EU Drugs Action Plan 2021–2025

The Council of the EU (Foreign Affairs) approved on 21 June the EU Drugs Action Plan for 2021–2025. The new plan presents the concrete actions needed to achieve the priorities of the EU Drugs Strategy, adopted in December 2020.

The action plan sets out a specific timetable for these actions, a list of responsible parties and a series of indicators to measure effectiveness. The plan was prepared by national and EU representatives on the Council’s Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) under the Portuguese Presidency of the EU.

With the current EU Drugs Strategy, the EU and its Member States reaffirm their commitment to a balanced, evidence-based approach to address the drug phenomenon in Europe, with the preservation of human rights at its core. The strategy draws on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic in the drugs area and takes a future-oriented approach, promoting research, innovation and foresight to respond more effectively to, and anticipate, forthcoming challenges.

The Action plan is available following this link˃˃˃.

 

Webinar on the brain development in adolescence and substance use

The Slovenian NCD Alliance invites you to a free webinar “The brain development in adolescence and substance use in the context of prevention science, policy & practice“, which will host three of the most important international experts in this field.

The webinar is organized as part of the celebration of World Drug Day (26 June) and the 15th anniversary of the UTRIP Institute (23 June). Priority for registration and participation will be given to the participants from the South Eastern European countries, especially those from Balkan region.

The seminar will be conducted in the form of a Webinar via ZOOM on Wednesday, 23 June 2021 from 15.00 to 18.00 (CEST time zone), and will be held in English.

The deadline for registrations is Tuesdaz 22 June 2021 via the form following this link˃˃˃. After registration, you will receive an email confirming registration and a ZOOM link for the Webinar.

The seminar is organized within the project “Because alcohol is not milk – advocacy in the field of alcohol policy”, which is supported by the “Active Citizens Fund” in Slovenia 2014 – 2021.

Changes at the drugs market in the Western Balkans

To improve understanding of the impact of the pandemic and associated measures on the drug market in the Western Balkans, the European Drugs Agency (EMCDDA) published ad hoc publication Illicit drug markets and supply in the Western Balkans: Impact of COVID-19.

This report provides the main results of studies conducted using the trendspotter methodology to explore the impact of the pandemic and associated measures on the drug markets and supply in the Western Balkans.

Reported here are the findings of a rapid multidisciplinary expert opinion study to review the possible impact of COVID-19 on the operation of the drug market. The current situation is extremely dynamic.

The findings of the study should be interpreted with caution as they are based substantially on expert opinions gathered from law enforcement sources between September and October 2020, when the research was conducted. In general, very limited statistical or research data is available in the Western Balkan region on drug markets during this period. Therefore, the conclusions are necessarily preliminary and will require review as more data sources become available.

To read the report, please follow this link>>>.

 

Support. Don’t Punish activities in 2021

Support. Don’t Punish is a global grassroots-centred initiative in support of harm reduction and drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights. The campaign seeks to put harm reduction on the political agenda by strengthening the mobilisation capacity of affected communities and their allies, opening dialogue with policy makers, and raising awareness among the media and the public.

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe coordinates activities of the campaign in South East Europe around the Global Day of Action 26 June – which is also the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

In 2021, we shall participate in activities of the #DrugDecrim month to contribute to fighting stigmatisation and criminalisation of people that use drugs.

The campaign 2021 shall have in South East Europe:

  • 8 countries
  • 14+ cities
  • 12 organisations
  • 50+ activities
  • 25 accounts on social networks

Activities have already started in some of the countries of the region.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic which is still hitting the region and the world, DPNSEE will not organise the traditional kick-off event in 2021.

The DPNSEE Board decided to issue a public appeal on harm reduction crisis, following a very critical situation in which are harm reduction services in several countries of South East Europe.

To find out what is planned in your city or country, follow this link>>>.

Information about the global campaign is available from the website http://supportdontpunish.org.

 

European Drug Report 2021 presented

From the EMCDDA press release

The EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) publishes its European Drug Report 2021: Trends and Developments, the latest annual review of the drug situation in Europe. Based on data from 29 countries (EU 27, Turkey and Norway), the report offers new insights into the health and security implications of a complex and evolving drugs problem and of a drug market resilient to COVID-19 disruption.

The report warns of the risks to public health posed by the availability and use of a wider range of substances, often of high potency or purity. It also describes how organised crime groups have intensified illegal drug production inside Europe to evade anti-trafficking measures, creating environmental, health and security risks. Drawing on the latest EMCDDA rapid assessment study, the report explores the recent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug markets, use and services.

Presenting findings from the latest EMCDDA trendspotter study, the report illustrates how the drug market continues to adjust to COVID-19 disruption, as drug traffickers adapt to travel restrictions and border closures.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Cannabis use remains stable at high levels, but increased THC content raises health concerns — Rise observed in the THC content of cannabis resin (average range: 20%–28%). Health alerts warn of cannabis adulterated with highly-potent synthetic cannabinoids.
  • Record cocaine seizures, a worrying signal of potential for increased health harms — A record 213 tonnes were seized in 2019 (up from 177 tonnes in 2018). Cocaine purity has increased and more people are entering treatment for the first time. Preliminary seizure data in 2020 suggest availability has not declined in the pandemic.
  • Stable amphetamine demand makes domestic production near consumers profitable — Alongside the dismantling of production facilities in 2019, chemicals used to manufacture amphetamine were also seized in the EU, including 14 500 litres of BMK and 31 tonnes of MAPA (up from 7 tonnes in 2018).
  • Methamphetamine production and trafficking highlight potential for increased use in Europe — Both large-scale and smaller production facilities are being detected in Europe and large quantities of the drug are being transhipped through the EU to other markets.
  • Risks to health from supply of high-strength MDMA products — In addition to increases in the average MDMA content in tablets and the purity of powders, products with very high levels of MDMA are also being detected. Preliminary data from 2020 suggest there was less interest in this drug during periods of lockdown.
  • Harmful potent new psychoactive substances continue to emerge — Among these are new synthetic cannabinoids and new synthetic opioids. A total of 46 new psychoactive substances (NPS) were reported for the first time in Europe in 2020, bringing the total number monitored by EMCDDA to 830.
  • Are less commonly used drugs posing increasing challenges for public health? — These drugs include hallucinogens, ketamine and GHB. Worryingly, intensive patterns of use are reported in some settings.
  • Large heroin seizures signal potential for increased use and harms — Large volumes of heroin are still being seized in the EU (7.9 tonnes in 2019), raising concerns around the possible impact on levels of use.
  • Organised crime groups intensify illegal drug production within Europe — A total of 370 illegal laboratories were dismantled in 2019.
  • Drug law offences increase, with cannabis possession and supply predominant — An estimated 1.5 million drug law offences were reported in the EU in 2019; 82% were related to use or possession for personal use.
  • First-time treatment clients for heroin use continue to inject less — Although injecting drug use has been declining in Europe for the past decade, it remains a major cause of drug-related harms.
  • Scaling up treatment and prevention is required to reach HIV and HCV Sustainable Development Goals — Increased access to integrated testing and treatment services is an important part of reaching targets.
  • Overdose deaths driven by opioids and other drugs highlight need for service development — High-risk substance use and polydrug use continue to fuel drug-induced deaths in Europe.

The Report is available in various European languages including English (en) and those from our region Bulgarian (bg), Croatian (hr), Greek (el), Romanian (ro) and Slovene (sl).

 

Denis elected to the EHRA Steering Committee

During May 24 – June 6, 2021 Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) conducted online General and Regional members’ meetings in Russia and South-Eastern Europe to elect new Steering Committee members.

In total the South East Europe region has 26 official EHRA members, who were eligible to vote. From those 26 members – 10 participated in the meeting and cast the vote for their candidate, which means, that quorum was met, because 38,46% of members from the region participated in the elections of the SC member.

DPNSEE Vice-President Denis Dedajić, proposed by his organisation Margina from Bosnia Herzegovina, is elected for 3 years term as EHRA Steering Committee member to represent South-Eastern Europe region.

We congratulate Denis and hope this will improve the cooperation we have with EHRA.

Research on EU Action Plan on Drugs

The EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) hosts the survey on Civil Society Perspectives on the implementation of the EU Action Plan on Drugs aiming to assess the state of implementation of the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2017-2020 in the EU Member States and beyond. It is addressed to civil society organisations working in the field of drug policy. The survey is addressed to representatives of civil society working in drug policy and it’s all specific areas.

Following the survey conducted at the beginning of the Action Plan 2017-2020 implementation (report can be accessed here>>>), the CSFD continues the monitoring of accessibility and quality of key demand reduction and harm reduction measures. This survey aims to collect the data allowing for the evaluation of the current situation and identify the potential changes taking place during the last three years. Its results, complemented with other elements of this research project, will be published on the CSFD website.

It is extremely important to collect enough data to be able to see the general picture of the European situation. The CSFD research projects, including this survey, are one of the very few bottom-up attempts to fill this gap in knowledge. Collecting information on the state of key demand and harm reduction services will allow to identify shortcomings and gaps in drug policy implementation in European countries. This, in turn, will serve as information for policy-makers and an advocacy tool for civil society actors at the European, national, and local levels.

The survey is available following this link>>>. Deadline is 12 June 2021.

 

Updates on the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference

After being postponed from 2020 to this year due to coronavirus pandemic, the Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) are proud to finally re-announce the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference. Together with Czech organisation Sananim, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, the European Network of People Who Use Drugs, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and other important stakeholders from Europe they are currently constructing its exciting programme.

The conference will present the latest harm reduction developments and good, innovative practices. It will discuss drug policy and its implications on People Who Use Drugs and other marginalised groups, such as sex workers and People Living with HIV/Aids. It intends to discuss different perspectives on harm reduction, social inclusion and related topics. Finally, the conference provides an appropriate platform to create links and synergies between national and European stakeholders.

The 5th European Harm Reduction Conference targets professionals from the community, professionals working in the broader area of harm reduction, policy-makers and politicians, advocacy representatives, researchers, and media representatives.

With the out role of test and vaccination strategies in Europe, you are invited to a most probable face-to-face meeting in November. Join us and unmute yourself in the safe and pleasant environment we thrive to guarantee with all necessary measures.

In case of unforeseen developments and a worst-case scenario that might urge a re-cancellation, registration fees will be refunded, and sessions will be transferred to an online format.

Key dates:

  • Registration open: May 2021
  • Abstract submission: 1 May – 1 July
  • Abstract confirmation deadline: 15 September
  • Early Bird rate deadline: 30 September

To read more and register follow this link>>>.

 

Grassroots Organisations at the Forefront of Community Solidarity Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

EU TACSO 3 project, in cooperation with Trag Foundation from Serbia, are organising an on-line P2P event under the title “One Year On: Grassroots Organisations at the Forefront of Community Solidarity Response to COVID-19 Pandemic”. The exchange is being organized as a follow-up to the EU TACSO 3 Regional Meet-up on Emergency Response from June 2020. The aim is to complement the discussion on the consequences on civil society and society in general and how to deal with post-crisis patterns in the future. The two-day on-line P2P event will provide space for peer-to-peer learning and joint exploration of local community solutions and common challenges during COVID-19 and other complex crises in reflecting the practical developments and responses by CSOs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specific objectives of the event are to:

  • Summarise and present activities undertaken by EU TACSO 3 and other civil society actors in response to COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Discuss the lessons learned during the first spike of the COVID-19 pandemic to better coordinate and inform the community response and grassroots actions in future situations of crisis;
  • Contribute to building community resilience;
  • Open space for discussing challenges and future CSOs strategies for solidarity response in complex crises.

During the event, Trag foundation evaluation on their small grant support programme to 61 organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia during the COVID-19 pandemic that provides insights on how to support local communities in the post-COVID-19 pandemic circumstances.  Supported CSOs from local communities from the three countries as well as CSOs from Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Turkey with similar experience will spotlight their experience on positive examples of grass-root response to COVID-19.

The three main topics of discussion will include:

  • CSOs as essential social service providers during COVID-19: When the global pandemic hit and lockdown measures were introduced, CSOs were crucial in providing support to vulnerable groups when the institutions were either closed or slow to adapt to the ongoing needs of beneficiaries in the system of social care (persons with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, Roma, elderly etc.).
  • Activating community solidarity: grassroots organisations mobilising community resources for immediate relief during the COVID-19 crisis: Many community organisations were very successful in mobilising resources and volunteers to help relief of the direct damaging effects of the COVID-19 crisis. They were quicker to gather and distribute support to those most in need and provide different healthcare resources.
  • Is the future of activism on-line? Discussion of on-line community organising challenges and opportunities: Adopting the new normal has left grassroots organisations with mixed feelings. Some feel that authentic activism and community organising could not be done on-line, while in some cases, on-line events have brought new audiences and more accessibility to high-level speakers/ guests.

The event will take place on-line on Wednesday, 9 and Thursday, 10 June 2021

The event is mainly targeted to the CSOs representative and community-based organisations from the Western Balkan and Turkey.

If you are interested in attending the P2P event, please register until Monday, 7 June till 15:00 hrs CET following this link>>>.

BCSDN Call for Ad-Hoc Grants

The Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN) announced the revised version of the Call for Proposals for Ad-Hoc Support Grants under the Regional Civil Society Development Hub.

To further support CSO efforts in promoting the civic space in the Western Balkan region, BCSDN have broadened the scope and the target groups for the funding opportunities under the Call.

In addition to non-governmental and not-for-profit CSOs, CSOs’ networks, platforms, associations and foundations registered in one of the WB6 countries, informal organizations are also welcome to apply for the ad-hoc support.

With the updated Call, the Hub will continue to provide rapid funding for CSO’s immediate needs or innovations, in the form of direct expert support or funding for various regional actions, contributing to strengthening regional cooperation in promoting civic space.

The immediate need mechanism aims to provide support for civil society actors who prompted by unpredicted events must immediately respond to the current challenges or recognize a window of opportunity for influencing public opinion and policy processes.

The innovation stream refers to actions for the promotion or development of new approaches and methods of working and/or engaging with constituencies and stakeholders, or other innovative solutions to address the challenges CSOs are facing.

The deadline of this Call is extended by the end of 2021 until all available funds are disbursed, offering continuous support and a simplified and accelerated review procedure to ensure timely response to your needs.

The funding for this call is made available with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), provided for the Project “Protecting Civic Space – Regional Civil Society Development Hub”. The Call will remain open until the end of the year and until all available funds are disbursed.

Please check the details here>>>.

Find the application form following this link>>>.