The European Union Drug Strategy, that has covered the period 2004-2012, is currently being reviewed, and a new strategy will be agreed before the end of the year. The EU has commissioned two key evaluations of the existing strategy, both of which were published in April. The EMCDDA Trend Review reports on the development of drug markets, consumption, problems and responses over the 8 year period, while the RAND Report attempts to evaluate the impact of various aspects of the government responses.

Taken together, the picture painted is one of overall stability in the level of drug use and problems, within which there have been many sub-trends in terms of shifting drugs of choice, geography, and strategies to respond. However, the conclusions for policy are clear – efforts to stifle the supply and distribution of drugs into and around Europe cannot show any notable impacts on the scale of the market, or the associated problems. Meanwhile, drug dependence treatment services, and harm reduction programmes, as well as some innovative law enforcement tactics, have shown positive impacts. 

In the light of the recent European Commission Statement, "Towards a stronger European response to drugs", that seemed to prioritise intensified law enforcement, and was therefore criticised by IDPC, it will be interesting to see the extent to which these conclusions from official reviews are reflected in the development of the new strategy.

IDPC will be co-hosting a seminar in Brussels with the Global Commission on Drug Policy on the 29th May to examine these issues.

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