12. MID-TERM EVALUATION OF THE EU ACTION
PLAN ON DRUGS (2000-2004)
Commission Communication on the mid-term evaluation of the EU action plan on drugs (2000-2004).
|Document originated:||4 November 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:||12 November 2002
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 29 November 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None; but see (22517) 10207/01:HC 152-ii (2001-02), paragraph 4 (17 October 2001)
|Discussed in Council:||28/29 November 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
12.1 The EU Action Plan on Drugs 2000-2004 is a comprehensive
document which sets out measures to counteract both the demand
and the supply of drugs within the EU. It is based on the EU Drugs
Strategy agreed in December 1999 at the Helsinki European Council.
The plan requires the Commission to organise a mid-term evaluation
of the Strategy on the basis of the Action Plan and report to
the Council and the European Parliament by the end of 2002. A
final evaluation of the extent to which achievement of the Action
Plan met the objectives of the Drugs Strategy and an assessment
of the impact on the drug situation is required at the end of
12.2 In October 2001, we considered a Commission Communication
which set out a methodology for reviewing the implementation of
the Action Plan. Since we considered that the time was right for
a debate on the EU drugs situation, we recommended the document
for debate in European Standing Committee B. The debate took place
a year later, on 17 October 2002.
12.3 The November Justice and Home Affairs Council approved
a note to the European Council about the way that the Strategy
and the Plan should be implemented during the remaining two years
of their term, in the light of the mid-term evaluation.
The mid-term evaluation
12.4 The aim of the mid-term evaluation is to assess
the level of achievement to date of the activities set out in
the Action Plan. It is not concerned with an assessment of drugs
policies of individual Member States.
12.5 To conduct the review, the Commission has followed
the model put forward in its earlier Communication. A follow-up
table details progress against the Plan made by the Commission
itself, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
(EMCDDA) and Europol. In addition, use has been made of Member
States' responses to a questionnaire on progress at national level,
of peer evaluations and of relevant EU-level initiatives.
12.6 The Communication lists achievements at both national
and EU level, as well as highlighting areas at both levels where
further progress is needed. The findings are presented under the
five main headings of the Plan: co-ordination; evaluation; demand
reduction and prevention of drug use; prevention of drug-related
crime; enlargement and international co-operation.
12.7 Under its conclusions and proposals, the Communication
begins by stating that considerable progress has been made in
implementing the Action Plan. The Strategy and Plan have been
used as central reference points and many Member States have developed
national action plans in line with them. However, it also emphasises
that much remains to be done, identifying in particular the need
to tackle synthetic drugs, the value of research in further developing
drug policy evaluation, the need to co-operate closely with the
candidate countries on the drugs elements of the acquis, and
the importance of co-ordinated action in respect of the main producing
and transit countries.
12.8 The Communication makes a number of recommendations.
The two most significant are the prioritisation of specific activities
(underpinned by deadlines where appropriate and a process to monitor
progress) and the establishment of a steering group to provide
guidance and continuity in monitoring implementation and overseeing
the final evaluation of the Plan.
The Government's view
12.9 The Government has made no secret of its view that,
although the Action Plan has provided a useful guide for Member
States without strategies in place and for candidate countries,
it lacks focus and does not provide a means of identifying whether
EU-level activities add value to national effort.
12.10 In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth)
"The UK successfully influenced the development of the EU
Action Plan. The priority now is to focus on narrowing down and
prioritising those tasks to be taken forward at European level
that specifically add value to what is being done nationally.
The Government therefore fully supports the conclusions put forward
in the Commission's review.
"The Home Secretary intervened at the informal JHA Council
in September to highlight the need to utilise the review of the
Action Plan to drive the EU Drugs Strategy forward. The UK will
be seeking strong conclusions language from the next European
Council, in Copenhagen in December, in order to give impetus to
this work. We expect any revisions to the Action Plan to achieve
tangible results. A more clearly prioritised Action Plan should
be agreed by April .
"Although the UK supports the Commission's highlighting of
the issue of synthetic drugs as a key priority, we do not believe
that this will, or is intended to, undermine the need for strong
continued focus on action against heroin and cocaine."
12.11 Although the conclusions of the Copenhagen European
Council do not refer to the Drugs Action Plan, there appears to
be sufficient impetus behind the recommendations in the mid-term
evaluation for a more clearly prioritised Action Plan to be agreed.
12.12 The final evaluation, in which the impact of
the Strategy and Plan on the EU drugs situation is assessed, will
of course be the true test of the significance of this initiative.
However, the mid-term evaluation is useful, both as an outline
of progress to date, and because it provides the opportunity of
focussing future work. We are pleased to learn that the Government
strongly supports the recommendations and will be pressing for
12.13 We clear the document.