Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia, Đurđa Adlešič, visited the EMCDDA today as the country prepares for membership of this EU agency. Ms Adlešič, who is also president of the Commission on Combating Narcotic Drug Abuse of the Croatian Government, was joined by a 20-strong delegation.
Among the dignitaries were: Neven Mimica, Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament and President of the Committee on European Integration; Stjepan Adanić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Family, Veterans’ Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity; Milanka Opačić, President of the Committee on Family, Youth and Sport; and other high-level parliamentary representatives in the areas of health, social welfare and domestic policy. The delegation also boasted a strong technical team of experts working in the drugs field, including the heads of the governmental Office for Combating Narcotic Drug Abuse and the Croatian Reitox national focal point (1).
The purpose of today’s visit was to prepare for the country’s formal participation in the work of the agency. This will begin on ratification of an agreement, initialled in Brussels in July, between the European Community and the Republic of Croatia, concerning the country’s participation in the work of the EMCDDA. Ratification is expected to take place in the coming months, at which point Croatia will enjoy the same relationship with the agency as Norway. Practically, this means that the country will become member of the agency, will participate as observer in its Management Board and will formally report national data into the European monitoring system.
The Republic of Croatia is already an active partner in the Reitox network, thanks to a preparatory process supported by the European Commission’s Phare and IPA programmes (2). Today’s meeting allowed the participants to identify how to ensure the smooth integration of Croatian data into the broader European picture and review areas where Croatia can contribute to activities under the EMCDDA three-year work programme (2010–12). Also examined were the numerous technical cooperation activities already developed by the EMCDDA with Croatia under European Commission programmes.
Commenting today, EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz said: 'This new working relationship is a major step towards consolidating Croatia's national drug monitoring capacity and building a firm evidence base on the country's drug situation in the European context. In turn, this will present us with a more complete overview of Europe's drug phenomenon and facilitate sound policymaking in the field.'
‘We are aware that the prerequisites for an informed and science-based approach to developing policies and measures to be undertaken can only be created by providing a comprehensive, objective and analytical overview of the situation regarding drugs and drug addiction’, said Đurđa Adlešič. ‘Through this new agreement, Croatia makes its contribution to a comprehensive approach to the problems relating to drug abuse in Europe’.
A similar agreement regarding the EMCDDA has been agreed with Turkey and is pending ratification by the latter. Participation of the candidate countries in Community agencies is an important part of the EU's pre-accession strategy as it involves the candidate countries in EU policies and helps them prepare for accession to the EU.
From 25–27 November 2009, the EMCDDA will host a conference near Lisbon entitled: 'Community agencies: your partners in accession', financed by the IPA programme.