The EESC takes the view that, in its current form, the new EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs is a clear step backwards, and abandons the consensual, balanced and evidence-based approach previously taken to the fight against drugs, which had been evaluated positively.
The EESC welcomes the decision taken by the European Council's Horizontal Working Party on Drugs, at its meeting on 28 September, to ask the German Presidency of the Council to recast, by December, the document drawn up by the European Commission. The EESC strongly believes that the technical approach and public policies that formed the consensual basis for the previous EU drugs strategy must be continued and further strengthened in the 10th such strategy.
The EESC recommends that the new drugs strategy and the new EU action plan(s) in this field should significantly improve the balance between demand reduction and harm reduction interventions in terms of both the number of strategic interventions and the allocation of resources.
It is important for the agenda to address drug phenomena in a truly balanced way, using an integrated, multidisciplinary approach within a framework that is based on human rights and international cooperation, takes account of public health aspects and developments in scientific knowledge, and provides for continuous evaluation. The EU's drugs strategy should recognise drug users' fundamental rights when it comes to treatment and care, as is the case for any other category of illness.
The EESC believes that, in the longer term, there is a need to improve consistency in Member States' law enforcement practices in the interests of harmonisation, given that the existing differences between Member States' practices unquestionably undermine human rights.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that vulnerable groups of drug users are particularly exposed to the negative impact of the epidemiological situation, which could lead to a striking increase in the risks associated with drug use.
Indicators to assess the effects of supply reduction interventions and quality standards should be established as soon as possible on the basis of the model already being used to reduce demand.