Representatives of candidate, potential candidate and neighbouring countries of the EU are joining members of the EMCDDA’s Reitox network in Lisbon today for the kick-off of the agency’s fourth Reitox week (1). The purpose of this annual event is to broaden the scope of regular Reitox meetings, underline the importance of the EU drug monitoring model and add impetus to the agency’s technical cooperation with countries outside the EU (2).
Reitox — the European information network on drugs and drug addiction — was set up in 1993 and is composed of 30 national monitoring centres or national focal points (NFPs) in the 28 EU Member States, Turkey and Norway, as well as a focal point at the European Commission. The NFPs — from which the agency draws the bulk of its data — collect and analyse national information on drugs, drawing on various sectors including health, justice and law enforcement.
The 2015 Reitox week (23–27 November) unites over 40 nations including: the current 30 members of the network, Russia and a number of beneficiary countries of the European Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI) (3).
The Reitox week encompasses three events: international cooperation project-related meetings; the regular Heads of focal point meeting and a Reitox ‘extended network’ meeting (4), this year focusing on ‘Women and drugs’ (24 November). Experts and researchers from France, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Norway and the Lebanon will explore in this session the implications of gender for drug use, drug treatment, harm reduction and service planning.
‘Once countries join the EU, they are automatically required to participate in the work of the EU agencies’, says Wolfgang Götz, EMCDDA Director. ‘This is why aspiring EU members are encouraged to play an active role in the work of the agencies before entering the Union to ensure that, on accession, they are fully operational in the specific field. Participation in events such as Reitox week can help these countries strengthen their national information systems and gain access to tools and expertise to implement their own national strategies and responses to the drugs problem’.