Select Committee on European Scrutiny Second Report


EU ACTION PLAN ON DRUGS 2000-2004


(22517)
10207/01
COM(01) 301

Commission Communication on the implementation of the EU Action Plan on drugs 2000-2004.


Legal base:
Document originated: 8 June 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 20 June 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 10 July 2001
Department: Home Office
Basis of consideration: EM of 24 August 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (21274) 8305/00 REV2: HC 23-xxi (1999-2000), paragraph 10 (14 June 2000)
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: For debate in European Standing Committee B



Background

4.1 The EU Action Plan on drugs 2000-2004 consists of a comprehensive range of actions to tackle drugs problems not only throughout the EU but also in the applicant states and in those third countries where illicit drugs bound for Europe are produced or transported. When the previous Committee considered the Plan (in June 2000),[3] it cleared it, welcoming the emphasis on its continuous evaluation and on closer co-operation with applicant states. It also tagged the Plan to any future debate on EU measures concerning drugs.

The document

4.2 The current document is a Communication from the Commission on the implementation of the Action Plan. It sets out a methodology for reviewing progress.

4.3 In relation to Stage 1 of the agreed evaluation — an assessment of the extent to which the activities in the Action Plan have been achieved — the Commission proposes a follow-up table, detailing the state of play, time frame and priority for each activity. A draft table is set out in an annex to the document recording progress on activities falling to the Commission, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Abuse (EMCDDA) and Europol; the Communication encourages Member States to use the format to record progress on activities falling to them. The Commission will then draw on the information for the mid-term progress review due at the end of 2002. The document further suggests that all involved use the common methodological tools which are being developed by the EMCDDA.

4.4 The Communication states that it will not be possible for the Commission to report on the second and third stages of the evaluation (the assessment of the extent to which the objectives of the Drugs Strategy have been met and the assessment of the impact of the actions taken on the drugs situation) until its final report at the end of 2004. By then, the technical work which is being undertaken by EMCDDA and Europol should have provided reliable and comparable data for such assessments.

4.5 The Communication also makes proposals for helping applicant countries by developing action plans, involving these countries fully in activities of the EMCDDA, and increased project assistance, especially in relation to Turkey. A database of all EU or Member State anti-drug support should avoid duplication and make it possible to target help effectively.

4.6 In relation to external action with third countries, the Communication confirms the Commission's focus on the two main trafficking routes to the EU: the cocaine route from Latin America via the Caribbean and the heroin route from Afghanistan via central Asia, Iran, Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

4.7 The Communication reports that the Commission has completed its study of drugs co-ordination mechanisms in Member States and will shortly bring forward another on co-ordination at EU institution level. The Commission recognises the importance of strengthening such arrangements and will be making other proposals about sharing and collating information on various aspects of the drugs situation.

The Government's view

4.8 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Anti-drugs Co-ordination and Organised Crime at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) comments:

    "The UK was content to endorse the EU Action Plan on Drugs at the EU Council in June 2000. It provided a balanced and multi-disciplinary programme of action to tackle drugs and reflected key features of the Prime Minister's EU step change initiative announced to the Scottish Parliament in March 2000. Subsequently, the UK has had some concern that implementation of the Action Plan is being blown off course, largely by a lack of prioritisation and targets. At the EU Council in March this year, the UK therefore proposed a number of measures, including the development of a scoreboard to track progress; the need to press ahead with drug action plans with the candidate countries as well as more practical assistance to them, especially Turkey; and a call to enhance EU drug co-ordination arrangements.

    "The Commission have embraced all of these ideas in the present Communication. The follow-up table annexed to the document closely follows a UK model, and has now been approved by the working groups in Brussels. In addition the Commission have set out what we believe to be a satisfactory methodology for providing mid term and final reports of progress on the Action Plan.

    "The UK can therefore fully support this Communication and is looking at further ways of strengthening efforts to deliver early and tangible benefits from anti-drugs co-operation with our EU partners."

4.9 The Minister tells us that the document is likely to be submitted to Council in the autumn, without substantive amendment.

Conclusion

4.10 We thank the Minister for his helpful Explanatory Memorandum. Although it is encouraging that the Commission has embraced the UK's proposals for tightening up the implementation process, we are concerned that the progress which is being made may not be sufficient to stem the EU drug problem.

4.11 We consider that the time is now right for a debate on this issue, based on the current document and on the Action Plan (already tagged as relevant to any debate on EU measures concerning drugs). We therefore recommend the document for debate in European Standing Committee B.

4.12 The Standing Committee may wish to ask the Minister:

  • the basis for the UK's concern that the implementation of the Action Plan was "being blown off course";

  •  whether there are any "early and tangible benefits" from anti-drugs co-operation with our EU partners on which he can report;

  • what kind of "co-operation with Turkey" is envisaged, and whether there has been any progress to date in negotiations with that country;

  • what kind of activity is envisaged in relation to the two main trafficking routes to the EU;

  • whether the level of resources at EU and at Member State level dedicated to implementation of the Action Plan is adequate to fight drugs misuse and trafficking; and

  • what impact the events of 11 September and the steps taken in response are likely to have on the implementation of the Action Plan.




3  (21274) 8305/00 REV2: see headnote to this paragraph. Back


 
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