Developments at EU level

In November 2002, the European Commission issued a communication regarding the mid-term evaluation of the EU action plan on drugs (2000–2004) (63). The aim of this mid-term evaluation was to assess the level of achievement of the activities set out in the action plan. As the EU action plan comprises actions to be undertaken by the Member States, the European Commission, the EMCDDA and Europol, the mid-term evaluation was based on complementary tools, including the replies of the Member States to a questionnaire and a follow-up table of the achievements of the Commission, the EMCDDA and Europol. These were supplemented by the results of the peer evaluation of law-enforcement systems in the Member States and information on drug-related initiatives at the EU level. The communication summarised achievements in each area covered by the action plan and highlighted the areas where progress is needed at each level.

While acknowledging achievements, the Commission stressed that much work remains to be done, including the development of systems of evaluation of national and EU activities. It also stressed the need to cooperate closely with the candidate countries to ensure their future contribution to the European Union drugs strategy. The document sets out methodological bases for the final evaluation. In particular, the Commission proposed to pursue the evaluation process with the support of a steering group including representatives from the Commission, the European Parliament, the Council Presidency, Europol and the EMCDDA. This group will help to create the final evaluation setting. As part of the final evaluation, the EMCDDA will compare data available in 2004 in the field of drugs with the 1999 baseline it produced in association with Europol. The EMCDDA will also assist the Commission in implementing the second Eurobarometer study on youth attitudes and drugs and update the follow-up table on activities of the EMCDDA. It should be noted that, according to a special Eurobarometer survey entitled ‘Attitudes and opinions of young people in the European Union on drugs’ (2002), the two most effective ways of tackling drug-related problems in Europe are tougher measures against drug dealers and traffickers (supported by 59.1 % of the sample, EU15) and improved treatment and rehabilitation services for drug users (favoured by 53.2 %, EU15) (64).

The Council of the European Union has also adopted an implementation plan on actions to be taken on synthetic drugs, which sets out a number of issues with regard to the supply of synthetic drugs that should be further addressed by the European Union over the coming years. The plan proposes actions to address the problems identified and defines appropriate bodies to take the work forward within specified timeframes.

On 28 February 2002, the European Council adopted a decision concerning control measures and criminal sanctions in respect of a new synthetic drug, PMMA. PMMA is not currently listed in any of the schedules to the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but, as a result of this decision, PMMA is now subject to control measures and criminal provisions within the Member States (65).

Another important development is Decision No 1786/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002, which instigates a programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003–2008) (66). The aims of the programme are:

This programme will, among other things, support implementation of monitoring and rapid reaction systems and actions in the field of health determinants. Both areas should allow follow-up of initiatives launched by stakeholders in Member States in the context of the programme of Community action on the prevention of drug dependence within the framework for action in the field of public health (1996–2000 and extended to 2002).

In 2002, the European Commission also made some proposals, discussed by the Council during the reporting period (March 2003), that concern the drugs field: one is related to reduction of risks associated with drug dependence and the other to drug precursors (67). In December, the European Community concluded an agreement with the Republic of Turkey on precursors and chemical substances frequently used for the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (68).


(63COM/2002/599 final.

(64) Attitudes and opinions of young people aged 15–24 in a sampling which is representative of the EU.

(652002/188/JHA: Council Decision of 28 February 2002 concerning control measures and criminal sanctions in respect of the new synthetic drug PMMA (Official Journal L 063, 06/03/200, pp. 0014–0014). Proposal for a Council Decision defining PMMA as a new synthetic drug which is to be made subject to control measures and criminal provisions (COM/2001/0734 final).

(66Decision No 1786/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 adopting a programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003–2008) (Official Journal L 271, 09/10/2002, pp. 0001–0012).

(67Proposal for a Council Recommendation on the prevention and reduction of risks associated with drug dependence (COM/2002/0201 final). Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on drug precursors (COM/2002/0494 final, Official Journal C 020 E, 28/01/2003, p. 0160–0170).

(68)  Agreement between the European Community and the Turkish Republic on precursors and chemical substances frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances (Official Journal L 064, 07/03/2003, p. 0030–0035).