Europe’s ability to rapidly respond to public health and social threats caused by new psychoactive substances (NPS/‘new drugs’) has been significantly strengthened thanks to new legislation applying from 23 November (1). The legislation strengthens the EU Early Warning System (EU EWS) and risk assessment procedures on NPS and shortens control processes.
Under the new legislation, and via working arrangements, the EMCDDA will now be cooperating with five EU agencies (previously three): the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC); the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA); the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA); the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Europol. Existing working arrangements with ECDC, EMA and Europol have been updated, while new arrangements will be signed with ECHA and EFSA (2).
On 4 December, Mr Goosdeel and ECDC Director Andrea Ammon signed the updated EMCDDA–ECDC working arrangement in Brussels. This followed their participation at the European Parliament in a high-level panel discussion ‘EU 2019–2024: How can we support viral hepatitis elimination in line with the WHO Global Strategy and UN SDGs?’ Having worked together in areas relating to data collection, knowledge exchange and sharing of best practice in the monitoring of infections associated with injecting drug use, the two agencies will now also be sharing information and data relating to NPS, their use and potential public health and social risks.
Today (6 December), Mr Goosdeel and Europol Director Catherine de Bolle will sign the updated EMCDDA–Europol working arrangement in Brussels. This establishes a procedure for sharing information on the activities of criminal groups in the manufacture, trafficking and sale of NPS and will further strengthen the agencies’ cooperation on drug-related security threats. The EMCDDA and Europol have been working together since 1997 to monitor the appearance of ‘new drugs’ and the extent of their diffusion in Europe via the EU EWS (3).
Present at the signing ceremony, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos congratulated the two agencies on the agreement.
See the Commissioner’s statement on the DG-HOME website.
EMCDDA staff will also be at Europol headquarters in The Hague today for the ‘2ndAnnual conference: Drugs in Europe — a bold law enforcement response’. To coincide with this event, the two agencies are releasing on their websites a joint publication entitled Improved drug supply indicators for Europe: progress report.
On 7 December, Mr Goosdeel will travel to London where he will sign the updated EMCDDA–EMA working arrangement with EMA Director Guido Rasi. The former arrangement, which enabled the bilateral sharing of information through the pharmacovigilance system, largely on NPS, has now been extended to include the abuse of substances intended for medicinal use in humans or veterinary products. This reflects the dynamics of the European drug market and the adulteration of existing drugs with medicinal products.
These new arrangements will align the agencies’ working relationships with the new legislation as well as with the on-going observed changes in the European drug situation. They also enable better preparedness for potential future developments in the increasingly complex and fast-moving world of drug production and marketing facing European citizens.
The working arrangements with ECHA and EFSA are scheduled to be signed early in 2019.