EU’s new Action Plan on Drugs to focus strongly on harm reduction

Paris, September 2017 – The European Commission has officially adopted in July its new Action Plan on Drugs for the period 2017-2020, which focuses strongly on harm reduction, the specific needs of vulnerable groups, and prescription medications.

While maintaining the core policy of reducing both demand and supply, it identifies new priority areas for action, including the monitoring of new psychoactive substances, the use of new technologies for prevention of drug abuse and evidence gathering on the potential connection between drug trafficking and the financing of terrorist groups, organised crime, migrant smuggling or trafficking in human beings.  

As a blueprint for the Member States’ policies and programmes against drugs, the new triennial plan covers the following areas:

Drug demand reduction

The Action Plan encourages enhanced use of information and communications technologies (ICT) for prevention purposes, such as awareness raising activities targeting young people in particular. It also advises a stronger focus on risk and harm reduction measures and targeted measures for vulnerable groups.

Drug supply reduction

The Action Plan calls for a rapid adoption and swift implementation of the legislative package on new psychoactive substances proposed by the Commission in August 2016. More attention to alternatives to coercive sanctions for drug using offenders are needed.


Further opportunities should be sought to strengthen civil society’s participation in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of drug policies at EU and national level.

International cooperation

Wide consensus that one key area in which the strategy and action plan, which express a common position reached through a thorough consultation process, add value is enabling the EU to speak with one voice in international fora, as demonstrated in the United Nations General Assembly on drugs (UNGASS) 2016 process.

Research, information, monitoring and evaluation

The Plan notes that there should be clear indicators to measure the impact of EU funded projects. It also suggests to reinforce research to identify any potential connections of drug trafficking with other organised crime activities, such as terrorist financing, migrant smuggling or even trafficking in human beings.

Current cannabis policy models around the world (depenalisation of use, market regulation, legalisation) and their impact will be analysed in more depth.

Efus member of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs

Efus welcomes this plan, which focuses strongly on harm reduction.
Harm and addiction reduction are important areas of work for Efus. As a non governmental organisation, the association is a member of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs, which is consulted periodically by the EU on drug policies, including the new Action Plan. In addition, Efus has conducted various projects on the topic and has published several publications, all available online.

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