ENCOD STATEMENT TO THE DEBATE ON THE EU
On March 27th 2006, a website was created to give EU citizens the opportunity to express their wishes towards the European future. On behalf of ENCOD, the following text was published on European drug policy.
In October 2004, the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction published an evaluation of the EU Drugs Action Plan of 2000-2004, showing that this plan had had no favourable results whatsoever in any of its key objectives: to reduce significantly the supply and demand for illicit drugs in the EU.
In December 2004, the European Parliament approved a series of recommendations to change the fundamental course of drug policies in Europe, in order to give priority to harm reduction instead of law enforcement.
In June 2005, the European Union approved a new Action Plan on Drugs that is based on the same objectives as the former one. It completely ignored the results of the EMCDDA evaluation and the recommendations of the European Parliament.
Drug policies in Europe lead to the criminalisation of at least 30 million EU citizens, who regularly consume an illicit drug. The public expenditure to judicial operations aimed at maintaining drugs illegal in Europe can be estimated at about 6,5 billion EURO/year, that is 18 million EURO/day or 10 EURO per EU citizen per year. There is no indication whatsoever that these operations are obtaining any impact on the availability of drugs or the profits of criminal organisations. Besides, this money cannot be used for social and/or public health purposes.
Meanwhile, on a local level, authorities in Europe start to realize that drug related problems can be treated in a non-repressive way. There is enough scientific and practical evidence available to conclude that the prohibition of drugs creates and increases health risks. Those risks diminish in a system where the production, distribution and consumption of drugs would be regulated within a legal framework.
Authorities need a reality-check concerning their drug policies. They can only get this from a direct contact with citizens who are directly affected and/or concerned with the impact of drug policies. But in spite of several commitments made in official EU documents of the past 15 years, there does not exist any strategy within the EU to involve civil society in the design and implementation of its drug policies. As a result, these policies are decided upon behind closed doors, far away from the public sphere.
Drug policy is one area where the European Union can show its real face: a social or a repressive one. Until now, the lack of respect for democracy and transparency in EU drug policy shows that authorities are far out of balance.
Long live democracy!
European Coalition for Just & Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD)
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