EMCDDA logo Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in the European Union 2001

Home of the Annual Report
Introduction to the annual report
Chapter 1: Drug demand and drug supply
Chapter 2: Responses to drug use
Chapter 3: Selected issues
Chapter 4: The drugs problem in central and eastern European countries
Situation and trends
Policy and institutional
responses
Money laundering
Figures and tables
 
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CHAPTER 4

Policy and institutional responses to the drug phenomenon

Since the mid-1990s, drug policy and strategy developments in the central and east European countries (similarly to the EU Member States) have two main roots: firstly, the changing nature of the drug phenomenon which increasingly affects broader segments of society; and secondly, the multidimensional character of the problem which demands a nationally coordinated multidisciplinary response. The actions of various international organisations, notably the European Commission, have provided a catalyst for the development of national responses to the drug phenomenon.

Within this context, the central and east European countries have taken substantial steps to developing the appropriate legislative measures and administrative and coordination structures. In addition, as part of the process of EU enlargement, under the pre-accession strategy, the 10 candidate CEECs(31) have adjusted or reoriented their drug control actions towards adopting and implementing the acquis communautaire. A similar process is taking place in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia despite the fact that it is not yet an applicant to join the EU.

 

(31) The following CEECs are candidates to join the EU: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.


Legislation

All candidate CEECs have signed and ratified the three UN drug control conventions - these being regarded as inseparable from achieving the objectives of the EU drugs strategy. Estonia, in 2000, was the most recent country to ratify the 1988 'UN convention against Illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances'. All candidate CEECs have signed and ratified the 1990 Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime (Strasbourg Convention).

The process of adopting national legislation varies in its intensity and approach throughout the region, from the adoption of several laws addressing specific drug-related issues - such as is the case of Hungary - to the concept of a single wide-ranging 'umbrella-type' drug law - for example, the 1997 Law on Counteracting Drug Addiction in Poland. The latter was amended in 2000 to make more restrictive the provisions regarding the possession of small quantities of drugs and also to strengthen the role of demand reduction. A similar type of law has recently been passed in Bulgaria (1999). In the last two years, Slovenia adopted three major drug laws: on production and trade in illicit drugs (1999); on precursors for illicit drugs (2000); and a law dealing exclusively with the prevention of drug consumption, treatment and the reintegration of drug addicts (1999). The 2000 Romanian Law on Combating Illicit Drugs Trafficking and Consumption is rather brief and will probably be followed up by a substantial number of secondary legislative measures. All candidate countries have adopted specific precursors control legislation, largely compatible with EU regulations. For example, in 2000, laws were passed in Slovenia and Slovakia, as well as regulations on precursors introduced in Lithuania, Poland and Bulgaria.


Slovenian drug law

The Slovenian Law on the Prevention of the Use of Illicit Drugs and Dealing with Consumers of Illicit Drugs (1999), besides setting out measures for preventing the use of illicit drugs, also sets out measures on: information, medical, educational, and consulting activities; medical treatment; social security services and programmes for resolving social problems related to the consumption of illicit drugs; and for monitoring the consumption of illicit drugs. The law addresses, among others, the need for the involvement of non-governmental organisations and the coordination of their activities with the national programme. It is foreseen that the funds for co-financing the implementation of prevention programmes and for monitoring consumption will be provided from the national budget.


National coordination

In line with the new legislation, the national coordination and decision-making structures in most of the candidate CEECs have undergone significant changes in 1999 and 2000. In 1999, the Czech National Drug Commission approved the statute of its consulting body - the board of representatives of ministries - and tasked it with the preparation of a new national strategy. The Hungarian Drugs Coordination Commission was reformed so as to strengthen its mandate and operational capacity. The new laws passed in Slovenia and Bulgaria firmly established inter-ministerial coordinating bodies in these countries enhancing their role through the creation of permanent support structures - the Governmental Drugs Office and the National Drug Council Secretariat respectively - similar to those in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Romanian 'inter-ministerial committee for the fight against drugs' was established in 1999 and is yet to become fully operational, whereas in Poland such a body has not been functioning since 1998. Most of this reorganising has successfully enabled the countries to set up a structure with a view to meeting the specific needs of a changing society and the problems it is confronted with.

The leadership of the inter-ministerial coordinating body is usually ensured by one of the participating ministries. In most of the countries this is a ministry dealing with social matters - the Ministry of Health in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovenia, the Ministry of Social Affairs in Estonia, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Hungary. In other countries, it falls directly under the government's office - chaired by the Prime Minister in the Czech Republic and the Deputy Prime Minister in Slovakia - or lies with the Ministry of Interior, as is the case in Latvia. In Romania, the inter-ministerial body is by definition 'under the leadership' of the Prime Minister but its work is organised by the Ministry of the Interior.

For the purpose of implementing and coordinating national policy at local level, local drug commissions were set up in the Czech Republic in 1999 and in Bulgaria in 2000, the establishment of municipal multidisciplinary drug councils was initiated. These are similar to the regional and district drug commissions established in Slovakia in 1997.

National strategies and action plans

In countries where the inter-ministerial drugs body is well positioned, such as in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, multidisciplinary national strategies are elaborated and implemented in a more consistent manner. The Czech Republic, for example, has adopted its third consecutive national strategy. The process of elaborating strategic documents and action plans intensified in 1999 and 2000, and national drug strategies were adopted in Slovakia (1999), Poland (1999), Hungary (2000) and the Czech Republic (2000).

The Estonian 'Alcoholism and drug abuse prevention programme' (1997-2007), the Latvian 'Drug control and drug abuse prevention master plan' (1999-2003) and the Lithuanian 'National drug control and drug prevention programme' (1999-2003) are under revision. In Slovenia, a 'National programme for prevention of drug misuse' adopted in 1992 has been implemented over the past years. A new programme is due to be adopted based on recent legislation. Comprehensive drug control and prevention strategies are still to be adopted in Romania and Bulgaria. The latter has adopted a national programme for prevention treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts for the period 200105.

The new strategies demonstrate commitment, in that the drug problem is acknowledged at the highest political and executive level. They also provide the basis for multidisciplinary programmes. Most of the recently adopted strategic documents are concrete action plans in themselves, stating objectives, targets, achievement indicators, etc., and often securing or bidding for increased financial resources. The need for improved drug information and evaluation of the interventions is increasingly recognised and included as an integral part of the national actions. The partnership between governmental and non-governmental sectors in policy development and programme implementation appears to be increasingly responding to the individual and collective needs of the general population as well as to the drug-using population. It is worth noting that all new strategies in the candidate countries strive to ensure consistency between domestic policies and policies and strategies endorsed at EU level.

Czech Republic
At the end of 2000, the Government of the Czech Republic adopted a national drug policy strategy 2001-04. The strategy lists 82 specific tasks and stipulates that all relevant ministries with a mandate in the drugs field, as well as the regional and district authorities responsible for drug policy, have the task of preparing a specific drug action plan for 2001-04 in line with the strategy. The strategy takes into account the administrative reorganisation and the creation of larger administrative and territorial units and provides for enhanced regional coordination.

Hungary
The national strategy for the suppression of the drug phenomenon, elaborated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, was passed by the Parliament at the end of 2000. This is the first comprehensive, officially adopted strategic document addressing the drug phenomenon in Hungary. To justify the 'target-setting' multidisciplinary approach employed, the strategy largely relies on the analysis of available data and previous national and international experiences. The strategy identifies long- (2009), medium- (2002) and short-term objectives and achievement indicators to monitor progress. It also sets out the necessary organisational and financial framework for implementing the actions. The strategy comprises four main objectives: efficient community and cooperation capabilities; availability of prevention measures; access to social work therapy and rehabilitation; and reduction of supply.

Poland
Despite the absence of an inter-ministerial coordination body, the national programme for counteracting drug addiction in Poland 19992001 was adopted at the end of 1999. In the same vein as the EU action plan on drugs (200004), the programme lists eight objectives designed to strengthen demand-reduction interventions, to increase the effectiveness of actions on the reduction of illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, as well as measures to reinforce the national coordination structures and international cooperation. In the area of demand reduction, the programme pays specific attention to objectives that are highly compatible with those of the EU strategy such as preventive activities targeting young people, the improvement of various measures in rehabilitation and social reintegration, the reduction of health consequences of drug use, etc. The need to evaluate the actions and to set up monitoring modalities is also addressed.

Slovakia
The national programme for the fight against drugs till the year 2003 with a prospect to the year 2008 is a policy document adopted further to the implementation of the first national programme (1995-99). The programme strives to achieve a balance between demand and supply reduction actions through addressing four main objectives: primary prevention, treatment and reintegration; drug supply reduction and law enforcement in combating drugs; mass-media policy; and international cooperation, where the preparation for accession and the need for continuous cooperation with the EU and its institutions, including the EMCDDA is seen as a priority. The programme also addresses the need to implement the decisions of the 20th UN General Assembly Special Session. The principal sources of funding for programme activities are the State health fund mainly for prevention activities, the anti-drug fund mainly for NGO activities in the field of rehabilitation and aftercare, and the State budget mainly for ministries or implementation of projects defined in the programme.

 

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