Aktionsplan zur Drogenbekämpfung der EU (2005-2008) Drucken
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Donnerstag, 21. April 2005 00:00

Website der EU zur Anhörung zum 'Aktionsplan zur Drogenbekämpfung der EU (2005-2008)', mit Transkription aller Statements: http://www.europarl.eu.int/comparl/libe/elsj/events/hearings/20050421/default_en.htm
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Review of EU drug action plan for 2005-08

On December 2004 the European Council approved the EU Drugs Strategy for 2005-2012, which consists of two consecutive 3-year action plans. On Thursday 21 April the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee held a public hearing, at which experts discussed the 2005-08 action plan unveiled by the Commission in February. Parliament will set out its views on this action plan when it adopts a consultation report later this year.

Parliament has already given its opinion on the EU drugs strategy in a hotly contested report adopted last December by only seven votes. Giusto CATANIA (GUE/NGL, IT), who drafted the report, highlighted the failure of existing EU strategies for fighting drug consumption and backed an approach based on the "protection of lives and health of drug users". During this week's hearing, the representatives of the three main European institutions agreed that drug consumption and drug trafficking in Europe was a complex problem that must be tackled at European level using a multidisciplinary approach, since it involves different areas, such as public health, cross-border crime and the education of children.

Chairing the Parliament debate, Antoine DUQUESNE (ALDE, BE) admitted "there is no miracle cure". Commissioner Franco FRATTINI quoted some figures from Eurobarometer stating that 71% of the public believe drug issues should be tackled at EU level. "There is at least an increased awareness that different national policies should move closer to one another", he said. "We have to work with scientific data and on a factual basis to avoid prejudice in this debate". On behalf of the Council, Mars DI BARTOLOMEO (Luxembourg Minister of Health) said a "multidisciplinary approach" to reducing drug consumption must always involve civil society and that professionals must also be consulted. During the hearing, Mr Duquesne decided to give the floor to members of the public who were present. Olivier HOFFMAN was one of those who took the floor to say that he and other drug users should have a bigger role in the decision-making process.

It was then the turn of the experts to speak. Joep OOMEN (ENCOD, Antwerp) said "we should not continue with policies that we know don't work (...) Prohibition measures sometimes have a counter-productive effect". Marcel VAN HEX (Director of the Centre for Drugs and Alcohol Addiction, Limburg) pointed to a contradiction between the proposed EU action plan - which aims to reduce drug consumption with prevention policies rather than repression - and what actually happens in the Member States: "In Belgium 54% of the funding invested in combating drug abuse goes into security and repression and only 5% is really used for prevention".

Some experts, such as Paul Griffiths (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs, Lisbon) highlighted the need to improve data collection in different Member States to get a complete picture of the situation. Others talked about the need to invest in education in schools to reduce drug abuse. Martine ROURE (PES, FR) said children should be a priority target of preventive measures. Massimo BARRA (Red Cross, Rome) looked at the links between drug dependence and poor social and living conditions and he asked politicians "not to use drug dependence as a weapon of political discussion among political opposition groups".

The second part of the hearing focused on problems linked with drug trafficking and fighting cross-border organised crime. Various experts pointed to the complexity of problem and the need for alternative measures. Gerd LEERS, Mayor of Maastricht, explained the problems in the cross-border region of Meuse-Rhine. As the Netherlands has a different position towards soft drugs, there are 1.5 million drug tourists per year in Maastricht. Mr Leers called for better regularisation of supply to coffee shops saying "cannabis, like alcohol, is part of our society and, if it is better regulated, harm can be reduced".

Paolo Borgna, public prosecutor from Turin, Italy, explained that in Europe judicial cooperation in the fight against organised crime was lagging behind. "The present system is slow" to recognise the complexity of cross-border crime, he said.

Pauline METAAL of Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, said that future evaluation of the action plan needed improved harm-reduction measures. He added that "policies based on enforcement are bound to fail". Franco CORLEONE of Drugs Forum, Florence, called for alternative strategies, saying there was a need for policies of tolerance and social inclusion in drugs policy.

Speaking for the Commission, Carel EDWARDS, Head of Drugs Unit, pointed out that there was an extremely narrow legal basis for the Commission to use in order to act on drug policy as this area was subject to subsidiarity and was dealt with at national level. "There is no consensus yet at national level on what to do with drugs problem" he said, adding "The Commission tries to have a balanced and not ideological approach".

Winding up the hearing Mr Catania agreed, saying "a scientific approach should be taken as a basis for drugs policy, not an ideological one". He stressed that a distinction should be made between soft and hard drugs and that civil society must be involved.

21.04.2005 Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs In the chair: Antoine DUQUESNE (ALDE, BE), Martine ROURE (PES, FR)
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