Europe’s regional monitoring system on drugs is enriched today, thanks to a new working arrangement signed in Lisbon between the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) and the Federal Office of Public Health of Switzerland (FOPH). The signatories were Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA Director and Pascal Strupler, Director of the FOPH (1).
The new arrangement will contribute to a comprehensive overview of the European drugs problem and help enhance comparability of drug data between Switzerland and the EU. The document is in line with the EMCDDA Strategy 2025, which stresses that the agency should develop its services in partnership with national, European and international actors working in the drugs field in order to fulfil its role as the leading EU provider of evidence on drugs (2).
The FOPH — responsible for evaluating and coordinating the Swiss federal policy on illicit drugs — formally requested closer scientific cooperation with the EMCDDA in August 2015. The working arrangement was endorsed by the EMCDDA Management Board in June 2017, following consultation with the European Commission. It takes place within the agency’s mandate for cooperation with third (non-EU) countries and will be implemented through a joint work programme (3).
The agreement includes steps to enhance the knowledge base on the drug situation and responses to it, through cooperation in the area of data-collection methodology and through data sharing in key areas (e.g. demand and demand reduction, supply and supply reduction, legal aspects and policy models). It also allows the two bodies to exchange experience on health and social responses to drug problems (e.g. harm reduction, social integration and preventing communicable diseases), a topic in the spotlight next month when the EMCDDA launches its first European guide on the issue (4).
Today’s accord also pays special attention to the exchange of expertise and data in the area of new psychoactive substances (NPS). This will include collaboration between the Swiss National Reference Laboratory and the EMCDDA’s European Database on New Drugs.
The two bodies recognise that information on the drug phenomenon is an essential and indispensable instrument for drafting and implementing drug policies and for assessing the impact of actions to reduce problems originating from drug use and trafficking.
The information obtained through the new working arrangement will provide both parties with valuable new insights and contribute to their ongoing strategic goals.