Harm Reduction - The Only Success
There is no clear sign of success of EU drug policies - according to the evaluation of the EU drug strategy (2005-2012), commissioned by the EU Commission. There is one exception though: harm reduction, where a positive impact is most probable. The RAND report concludes that the growing availabilty and access to harm reduction services likely reduced the prevalence of HIV in Europe. However, there is a significant difference in the implementation of measures of the EU drug strategy in member states. There is less evidence on the effectiveness of supply side efforts - said Maurice Galla, expert of the drug unit of the European Commission at the meeting of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs, an expert group of the Commission. Despite significant law enforcement efforts the demand and supply for drugs is stable and could not be reduced.
Mr. Galla pointed out in his presentation that the lack of clear evidence does not mean that the EU drug strategy is unsuccesful or ineffective – there are several clear benefits of having a common EU approach to drug policies. It has an added value that the EU can speak in one voice at international events such as the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and it promotes a recognizable EU model that has a positive impact not only in member states but in other countries too. This leads to the convergence of drug policies in the long run.
„There is a need to consider drug use in a broader impact of harm reduction measures,” emphasizes the RAND report, observing a need to develop a broader policy framework encompassing licit and illicit drugs. The growing prevalence of the use of legal highs poses emerging health and research challanges and stresses the need for „a wider conceptual framework for treating addiction and substance use”. As Frederik Polak, a member of the Forum pointed out commenting Mr. Galla’s presentation, this broader framework is not possible without rethinking the whole international drug control system.
Mr. Galla explained that the next EU drug strategy (2013-2021) will be drafted by the EU Commission under Cypriote presidency and the document shall be adopted by the end of the year. The first Action Plan (2013-2017) should be launched in the beginning of the next year, under Irish presidency.
Posted by Peter Sarosi, Brussels