National drug strategies

Current national drug strategies  |  Goals and themes  |  Implementation  |  Evaluation  |  Financing  |  Coordination

Current national drug strategies

The information in this section comes from the 10 candidate or acceding countries of central and eastern Europe (CEECs), i.e. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Information from Malta, Cyprus and Turkey was not available. National drug strategies are in place, or are in the process of being adopted, in all 10 CEECs. This trend to develop policy plans, also visible at EU level, shows that the CEECs are increasingly planning and committing to the implementation of drugs-related activities as part of a wider, more comprehensive approach that embraces a global national drug policy (Table 5). Indeed, in many cases, drugs strategies in the CEECs appear to have drawn on management criteria, being comprehensive, oriented towards targets and implementation and emphasising coordination.

Most national drugs strategies in the CEECs have direct links to the EU drug strategy and the EU action plan on drugs (2000–2004). For example, the six objectives of the EU plan constitute a core set of aims for the Czech strategy and are expressly mentioned in the new texts of Estonia and Latvia as well as in the national drug strategies of Poland and Romania and in the draft strategies of Lithuania and Slovenia. This trend also reflects response to the international demand for a ‘balanced, comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach’, made to the countries of the UN system by United Nation General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs in June 1998.

Table 5: Current national drug strategies in the candidate countries

Date of adoption

Country

National strategy

1999

Lithuania

National drug control and drug prevention programme 1999–2003

Slovakia

National programme for the fight against drugs (adopted in 1995 and updated in 1999) until 2003 with the prospect of extension to 2008

2000

Hungary

National strategy to combat the drug problem

2001

Czech Republic

National drug policy strategy 2001–2004

2002

Bulgaria

National anti-drug strategy 2002–2007

Poland

National programme for counteracting drug addiction 2002–2005

Romania

National strategy on drugs 2002–2004

Slovenia

National programme on drugs 2003–2008

2003 (under way; provisional titles and dates)

Slovenia

National programme on drugs 2003–2008 (not yet adopted at the time of writing)

Estonia

National drugs strategy 2012

Latvia

Drug control and drug abuse prevention programme 2004–2008

Lithuania

National drug control and drug prevention programme 2004–2007

All national drug strategies analysed in this section are structured to cover actions in the areas of both demand reduction and supply reduction. In each case, the strategies outline measures to reinforce or upgrade law enforcement activities (e.g. police, customs, border patrols), as well as to establish or strengthen structures and programmes geared towards improving drug prevention in the community and treatment and rehabilitation, including, in many cases, measures to reduce the negative consequences of drug use. Although this does not automatically ensure that a ‘balanced approach’ is implemented, the fact that both sides of the drug problem (demand and supply) are taken into account in national strategies can be considered a good starting point.

Generally, national drug strategies appear to be intended to last for 4–5 years. However, in some CEECs it is felt that longer-term planning is needed if the strategy is to have an impact on the drug phenomenon. In Hungary, the 2000 drugs strategy set targets up to 2009; and in Slovakia the National Programme Against Drugs, updated in 1999, will cover up to the year 2003 with the prospect of extending it to 2008. Estonia is expected to adopt a strategy that would remain in place until 2012.

The status of the national drug strategies is another interesting area. In Romania and Slovakia, the strategy is reported to be binding on all ministries involved in its implementation. In particular, the Slovak strategy calls on each ministry to report annually, in a so-called ‘actualisation meeting’, on its own activities in relation to the national programme, if necessary revising, goals, tasks, time frames and financing. In the Czech Republic, activities covered by the drugs strategy are binding to the extent that each ministry is obliged to adopt its own plan, and to evaluate the resulting budgetary impact. Similarly, the new Estonian drug strategy will require administrations to plan their own activities to meet predefined deadlines. These methods and instruments ensure greater accountability and execution of anticipated tasks, even if the national drug strategy in itself lacks ‘official’ binding powers.

Many of the national drug strategies in the CEECs are revisions of previous strategies or on the drug situation in the country. In some cases, failure to implement the previous drug strategy (for political or financial reasons) was the motive for conceiving a new document focused more on the issues of financing, performance and implementation. An attempt to apply an evidence-based approach lies behind most of revision processes. Revision of the current situation and the involvement of a large number of professionals are also two key aspects of current national drug strategies elsewhere in the EU (EMCDDA, 2002d).

Table 6: Phare twinning projects (1)

Country

Twinning partner

Bulgaria

United Kingdom

Czech Republic

Austria

Estonia

Germany

Hungary

Spain

Latvia

Spain

Lithuania

Spain (leading partner) and Sweden

Poland

France

Romania

Spain

Slovakia

France

Slovenia

Spain (leading partner) and Austria

(1) Similar twinning projects are expected to start between Cyprus, Spain and Greece, and Turkey, Spain and Greece.

In the Czech Republic, for example, the national drugs strategy presents the results of a detailed analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (so-called SWOT analysis) of current drug policy. This analysis contributed to the definition of priorities, objectives and tasks of the new strategy. In Poland, the national programme against drugs (2002–2005), is the result of an extensive revision of the previous drug strategy (1999–2001), put together during a 3-week seminar. The seminar closed with a total of nearly 30 experts contributing to the drafting of the new strategy. Analysis of the current drug situation and foreseeable trends forms the basis of new strategy documents in Slovenia and in Estonia. In the latter, cooperation with Germany in a twinning project was reported to be a key factor. In Romania, the National Strategy on Drugs (2002–2004) anticipates broad participation by governmental and non-governmental institutions working in the field of drugs, as well as the guidance from Spanish experts as part of a Phare twinning project.

The work undertaken by the Phare assistance programme and, more recently, under the aegis of Phare twinning projects (Table 6) seems to have contributed to the promotion of best practice (at least in the are of establishing institutions), shaping a culture focused on delivery and performance. This has had the beneficial effect of promoting the sharing of competencies and experiences among old and new members of the EU.

In Latvia, Lithuania and Romania, a twinning project with Spain played a major role in promoting the adoption of a new structured policy plan and of a central coordination agency, along the lines of the Spanish Governmental Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs. In Bulgaria, the twinning project with the UK has had a clear effect on the organisation of the delivery of the national drugs strategy at local level by instituting a system of Municipal Drug Councils, similar in concept to the UK Drugs Action Teams (24). In addition, French twinning partners have helped to evaluate the Polish drugs strategy.


(24) In the UK, Drugs Action Teams are local permanent structures composed of all actors in the community who are involved with the delivery of the drug policy.