International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking (26 June)

Speech by Wolfgang Götz, EMCDDA Director

INTRODUCTION/WELCOME

Dear Secretary of State for Health/Secretary of State for Cooperation/Mayor of Lisbon
Dear Ambassadors and members of the Lisbon diplomatic community
Dear Representatives of the Portuguese authorities
Dear Chairman of the EMCDDA Management Board
Dear colleagues and friends

It is my great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to you today to this, our seventh annual reception celebrating International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. At this event, we bring together every year the diplomatic community in Lisbon, our partners from the Portuguese authorities and the EU bodies in Portugal.

WHY THIS DAY IS IMPORTANT

This day was established by the United Nations over 20 years ago to strengthen action and cooperation in tackling the drugs problem and in creating safer and healthier societies across the world. Despite continued and increased efforts, the world drugs problem continues to constitute a serious threat to public health, safety and well-being.

I would like to underline two of the threats facing us in Europe today in this field:

  • we continue to witness a growing number of new drugs appearing on the EU market: last year a total of 49 new psychoactive substances were officially notified via the EU early-warning system for the first time — a rate of around one per week. And in 2012, 35 new substances have already been notified;
  • HIV epidemics continue to pose a major public health problem for many countries, with outbreaks in new HIV infections among drug injectors being notified recently in some EU Member States;

RECENT and FORTHCOMING ACTIVTIES

These are among the many reasons why, in the EU, we cannot slow down in our efforts to tackle the drugs problem. 2012 is a milestone year for the EU and for the EMCDDA as we prepare to enter new strategic cycles in 2013, taking stock of progress made and defining new horizons. Developments will include:

  • a new EU drugs strategy for 2013–20, with the EMCDDA playing a central role in monitoring and evaluating the drugs problem; and
  • a new EMCDDA 2013–15 strategy and work programme.

As regards our current activities, I would like to highlight two publications being released today on our website: Cannabis production and markets in Europe, which presents the first comprehensive analysis of this market across the EU, and a leaflet 2011: a year in review, offering an overview of the EMCDDA’s activities last year.
These are merely two of around 50 EMCDDA publications being launched this year alone.

I would like to draw your attention to one of the new titles under preparation, a totally new report ‘commissioned’ by the European Commission. This EU report on drug markets: a strategic analysis will be published jointly with Europol at the beginning of 2013.

EMCDDA publications are drawn up by a group of highly qualified staff members, to whom I would like pay a most deserved tribute. The expertise of our staff members is recognised also beyond the borders of the EU, as illustrated earlier this month when our Scientific Director, Paul Griffiths, received an award for Excellence in international leadership from the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This award commends those who have made significant contributions to international collaborative research and capacity building (outside the United States) and who have helped improve scientific understanding of drug abuse and addiction.

WORKING RELATIONSHIP and CLOSING

Before I conclude, I would like to acknowledge the constant support we receive from the Portuguese authorities — in particular the Parliament, Government and the Municipality of Lisbon — and the productive working relationship we have forged with them. Last but not least, I also acknowledge the support of the administrative services of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Finance which continue to contribute a great deal to facilitating our work.

It is now my honour to pass the floor to His Excellency the Secretary of State, Deputy to the Minister of Health, Dr Fernando Leal da Costa.

Thank you.
 


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