Under-Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Health, Adam Fronczak, heads a high-level delegation visiting the EMCDDA this week in the context of the upcoming Polish presidency of the EU. The purpose of the visit is to present the programme of the six-month mandate (July–December), review recent changes in Polish drug policy and explore future cooperation and information-exchange between the EMCDDA and Polish bodies working in the drugs field.
Key drug-related events of the presidency will include a:
• conference on cooperation between the EU and Eastern Europe/Russia (26–27 October, Warsaw);
• national drug coordinators’ meeting (21–22 November, Poznán);
• drugs and driving symposium (17–18 July, Montreal); and
• presentation of the EMCDDA Annual report to the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers (Brussels, November).
‘Providing technical advice and support to EU Member States is an important task of the EMCDDA’, said EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz, at the start of the two-day visit today. ‘It is crucial for us to receive feedback on our work directly from our stakeholders, such as members of this delegation, in order to better meet their needs and expectations’. He referred to the ‘very successful cooperation’ between the EMCDDA and Poland over the years, characterised by excellent working relations with the Reitox national focal point, experts and scientists and regional drug coordinators.
Mr Götz also welcomed to the proceedings representatives from the European Commission (Directorate-General for Justice) Paola Tardioli Schiavo and Marie Debieuvre.
The work of the EMCDDA and its role as interface between policy and science will be presented over the two- day meeting. Particular attention will be paid to the issue of psychoactive substances not controlled under drug laws. This follows a new law passed in Poland on 27 November last year controlling head shops and ‘legal highs’ (1). The new law, which eliminates the open sale of these substances, came in the wake of 3 500 inspections by the Polish police and state sanitary inspectors in October 2010, resulting in the closure of 1 200 ‘head shops’. The inspections had been prompted by reports from Polish hospitals in the second half of 2010 of poisonings apparently caused by these substances.
In this context, the agency will present an overview of Europe’s responses to new drugs, describing its early-warning system on new psychoactive substances and procedures for assessing the risks of ‘legal highs’ at European level. The Polish delegation will respond with an update on the situation in Poland.