The European Union (EU) has had some form of formal drug strategy since the early 1990s. These successive strategies have attempted to articulate a common Europe-wide position, and set out the role for the European Commission (EC) and other agencies in supporting the activities of EU member states given that the main decisions on policy, strategy and resource allocations are made at the national level.
Reviewing successive versions of the EU Drug Strategy, a clear trend of increasing scope, sophistication and clarity can be observed. Over the last 20 years, European governments and institutions have led the way globally in collecting information about the drug problem and government responses;1 in implementing and learning from the experience of a wide range of supply reduction, demand reduction, and harm reduction activities; and in developing a consensus around a balanced approach to strategy that avoids the more extreme forms of repressive law enforcement, and encourages significant investment in harm reduction and treatment services for people who use drugs.
In this advocacy note, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) analyses the extent to which the Strategy, and its initial Action Plan, are effective in articulating activities and plans that are appropriate to this challenge, and that reflect the best evidence and experience in this sector. We also comment on the extent to which the process of development of these documents has lived up to the Strategy objective to: ‘Promote and encourage the active and meaningful participation and involvement of civil society… in the development and implementation of drug policies, at national, EU and international level.’
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