Dáil Éireann - Volume 534 - 10 April, 2001
Written Answers. - Drug Action Plan.
Dr. O'Hanlon Dr. O'Hanlon
192. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Health and Children the measures in place at European Union level and the measures in train to combat the problem of misuse of drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10770/01]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): There are a number of activities taking place at European level in relation to combating the problem of misuse of drugs. EU member states have adopted a European Union Action Plan to Combat Drugs 2000-2004. The plan outlines the need for a balanced approach between demand and supply reduction. The plan emphasises the need to evaluate experience and identify best practice to ensure continuity and consistency in order to build upon the previous action plan. It identifies many new challenges and reaffirms the EU's commitment to the relevant UN conventions. Its main aims include ensuring that the issue of drug misuse is kept as a major priority and to continue an EU integrated and balanced approach to the fight against drugs.
The following are some of the key features of the EU action plan: it provides for the Commission to organise appropriate evaluations at mid-term and on completion of the EU Drugs Strategy 2000-08. Each member state will have to account for the actions they have taken in accordance with the relevant sections of the action plan. Current priorities are co-ordination, information, synthetic drugs, training, risk to young people from drug taking in sport, illicit drug trafficking, and international co-operation. Priority will also be given to progressing a number of action points in the plan; including in the EU annual report on  drugs an overview of measures taken as follow up to the action plan; completion of work on the five key epidemiological indicators and the development of indicators on drugs related crime, the availability of illicit drugs and drug related social exclusion; launch of a study of attitudes to drugs throughout the EU; establishment of measurable targets so that assessments can be made on progress in achieving objectives in the action plan; and evaluation of the co-ordination arrangements that are in place.
Linking in with the above is the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The EMCDDA was set up to provide the European Community and its member states with objective, reliable and comparable information at European level concerning drugs and drug addiction and their consequences. The statistical, documentary and technical information processed or produced by the centre helps provide an overall picture of the drug phenomenon in Europe. Its main tasks are collecting and analysing existing information on drugs, improving data-comparison methods, disseminating information, and co-operating with European and international bodies and organisations, and with non-EU countries. The centre's work focuses on several aspects of the drugs problem – demand and reduction of the demand for drugs, national and Community strategies and policies, international co-operation and the geopolitics of supply, control of the trade in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors; and implications of the drugs phenomenon for producer, consumer and transit countries.
The EMCDDA co-ordinates a network of 15 national focal points, one in each member state. The drugs misuse research division of the Health Research Board is the focal point for Ireland. The focal points link European Union institutions, central and eastern European countries, international organisations, specialised national centres and drug information networks. In preparation for the centre's annual report on the state of the drugs problem in the European Union, the national focal points gather data each year from drug monitoring units in their own countries as well as from selected specialised governmental and non-governmental bodies.
In addition, Ireland currently holds the chair of the Pompidou group of the Council of Europe. The Pompidou group provides a forum for exchanging views and co-ordinating action in Europe in response to the growing drugs problem for countries in the European Union and central and eastern European countries.
Dáil Éireann 534 Written Answers. Drug Action Plan.