Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Second Report



COM(02) 201

Draft Council Recommendation on the prevention and reduction of risks associated with drug dependence.

Legal base:Article 152 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated:8 May 2002
Deposited in Parliament:15 May 2002
Basis of consideration:EM of 23 May 2002
Previous Committee Report:None; but see (20695) 12555/99: HC 23-ii (1999-2000), paragraph 19 (1 December 1999).
To be discussed in Council:26 June 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared, but relevant to debate already recommended in European Standing Committee B on the EU Action Plan on drugs


  12.1  In November 1999, the Commission put forward a European Drugs Strategy (2000-2004)[32], which was endorsed by the Helsinki European Council in December of that year. This set three main public health targets, one of which was to reduce substantially over five years the incidence of drug-related health damage (HIV, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis etc) and the number of drug-related deaths.

The current document

  12.2  The main aim of this Recommendation from the Commission is to encourage Member States to take the steps needed to achieve such a reduction. These include information and counselling; outreach work (with peer involvement, and networking between the agencies concerned); comprehensive substitution treatment, adequate vaccination against hepatitis B, and appropriate access to needles and syringes; increased integration between health and social care; the availability of emergency services; and the training and accreditation of professionals. Member States are also recommended to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their efforts by the use of scientific evidence and appropriate data collection, needs assessment, quality criteria, innovative measures, and evaluation training programmes. These steps would be backed up by exchanges of information within the Community, and Member States would be required to report to the Commission within two years on the steps they have taken, in order to provide a basis for any possible follow-up action.

The Government's view

  12.3  In her Explanatory Memorandum of 23 May 2002, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health at the Department of Health (Hazel Blears) says that the Government agrees that there is a need for Community co-ordination of policies to limit the spread of communicable diseases linked to drug addiction, and that, if agreed, the Recommendation would provide a clear statement of intent, which would also serve as useful guidance for the development of drug policy in the applicant countries (which she points out would be in the UK interest). She adds that a common position within the Community would also be useful in the wider international context. Her main concern is that any costs arising from the proposed reporting arrangements should be contained by their gradual development, and that any monitoring requirements use existing mechanisms.


  12.4  This document deals with one aspect of a wider Action Plan on drugs on which we have already reported, and on which there is an outstanding recommendation for a debate in European Standing Committee B.[33] In view of this, and the fact that the current document comprises a non-binding Recommendation, we are content to clear it. It is, however, relevant to the Standing Committee debate, and, as our recommendation was made nearly eight months ago, we urge the Government to make the necessary arrangements without further delay.

32  (20695) 12555/99; see headnote. Back

33  (22517) 10207/01; see HC 152-ii (2001-02), paragraph 4 (17 October 2001). Back

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