CONCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC HEARING ON EU DRUG POLICY
23 February 2010
European Parliament, Brussels
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The hearing was attended by 40 civil society representatives from 15 EU countries
On 23 February 2010, a Public Hearing took place in the European Parliament on the issue of Drug Policy in the European Union. Upon the invitation of Greek MEP Michail Tremopoulos and ENCOD (European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies), approximately 40 representatives of European civil society organisations from 15 different countries came together to formulate their recommendations to Members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council on the future approach that the European Union should take regarding criminalised drugs. The hearing was attended by representatives of the Drugs Coordination Unit of the European Commission and MEPs Dennis de Jong (Netherlands, GUE) and Michail Tremopoulos (Greece, GREENS).
The hearing was held two weeks before the annual meeting of the United Nations Committee on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.
The main issue on the agenda of the public hearing was the “Report on Global Illicit Drugs Markets 1998 – 2007” that was financed by the European Commission in 2008. This study was carried out by a team of respected drug researchers chaired by Prof. Peter Reuter of Rand Corporation, USA and Mr. Franz Trautmann of the Trimbos Institute, Netherlands. It came about after many years in which many civil society organisations had called for an independent evaluation of the impact of worldwide drug prohibition.
The report was presented by the Drugs Coordination Unit of the European Commission. Its conclusions prove the theory of drug prohibition – as a tool to reduce production, distribution and consumption of “controlled” drugs – to be false. According to the report, control efforts have minimal effects on the global illegal drugs market, the annual value of which is estimated at 300 billion US dollars.
Carel Edwards (European Commission), Michail Tremopoulos (MEP), Fredrick Polak (ENCOD) and George Oikonomopoulos ( Elefsyna, Greece)
Production controls have some local successes but are unable to affect the availability of drugs globally; trafficking controls are no more successful.
Treatment reduces harms both of dependent users and of society without reducing the prevalence of drug use.
Prevention efforts are handicapped by the lack of programs of proven efficacy.
Harm reduction has helped an increasing number of countries but is focused on a narrow element of the drug problem.
Enforcement fails to prevent continued availability at lower price. Likewise it has caused substantial harms, unevenly distributed across countries. Drug prohibition is a major cause of violence, corruption, environmental and health damage. These problems are responsible for the death, disease and serious deterioration of life standards of millions of people, consumers, their surroundings and society at large.
Dennis de Jong (MEP)
In short, the conclusion of the report is that drug policy based on prohibition has done enormous harm and little, if any, good. The European Union should be congratulated for having provided the research to establish this conclusion. Now, it should act upon this knowledge. Ignoring it would be equal to criminal negligence.
Therefore the Public Hearing calls upon European Union institutions to take the following initiatives.
1. To organize as soon as possible a European summit on the future of drug policies, to which national and local authorities, parliamentarians and civil society representatives from the 27 Member States should be invited. The goal of the summit should be to explore the margins to apply innovative drug policies not based on prohibition, but based on the lessons of the Reuter Trautmann report and on the experiences of local authorities and civil society organizations.
2. To issue a general recommendation to Member States to make a review of their drug policies a political priority. The EU should allow each country to choose the drug policies it considers adequate, within a context of respect for human rights, individual freedom and social cohesion, and which cause the least collateral damage possible.
Bruno Valkeneers (Liaison Antiprohibitioniste, Bruxelles)
3. To use the opportunity of the coming meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations in Vienna, to emphasize the importance of harm reduction and launch a debate on a review of the UN Conventions, in order to facilitate alternative ways to regulate the drugs market that are not based on prohibition.
4. To explore ways to increase the margin of tolerance towards initiatives taken by European Union citizens to create closed circuits for the production and distribution of an amount of cannabis that is necessary for their personal consumption, as an effort to reduce harm and dependence on the black market.
Carel Edwards, Head of the Drugs Coordination Unit of the European Commission