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Please note that the information on this page is based on the EMCDDA Annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. Most statistical data relate to the year 2008 (or the last year available).


Annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe
Policies and laws

Published: 10 November 2010

Drug-related research

Strengthening EU research capacity

Strengthening research capacity in the drugs field has been on the European agenda in recent years. In 2008, the European Commission funded a study ‘Comparative analysis of research into illicit drugs in the European Union’ (1) and, in September 2009, organised a conference to discuss ways to improve drug-related research capacity in the European Union. The study and the discussions offered a number of important insights into the way drug-related research is carried out in Europe.

The bulk of drug-related research in Europe is conducted by the Member States, which set research priorities according to their national needs. This is generally done in the absence of a coherent drug research strategy with dedicated funding. Instead, drug-related research is usually embedded in health, social science or other programmes. Moreover, the research is heavily biased toward epidemiology and evaluation of interventions, with drug supply and supply reduction as well as policy evaluation being under-represented. Overall, coordination between policy, research and practice also lacks a coherent long-term approach. National research activity is complemented by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007–13).

This insight provided input for EU Council Conclusions on ‘Strengthening EU research capacity on illicit drugs’ (2), which identify future priorities: research into the cause and nature of, and responses to, drug problems; and evaluation research in both supply and demand reduction. Member States are also invited to strengthen their research capacity and coordination mechanisms and to explore, with the help of the European Commission, opportunities provided by the Seventh Research Framework Programme, for instance, the European Research Area Networks (ERA-NET) and Marie-Curie fellowships. Additionally, Member States and the research community are encouraged ‘to actively contribute to consultations on the future European research policy and the future objectives of drug-related research under the next EU drugs strategy’. The Council also agreed to establish an annual exchange on drug-related research in order to promote cross-border research cooperation. It acknowledged the need to improve access to research findings for policymakers and professionals, and called the EMCDDA to provide and disseminate, via its thematic web-area on research and its best practice portal, drug-related research information and findings.

Research information from Member States

In their 2009 Reitox national reports, European countries referred to more than 650 research projects undertaken or published between 2007 and 2009, approximately twice as many as in the previous period. This increase was verified in 26 of the 29 reporting countries. The United Kingdom referred to the highest number of research projects, over 100, followed by Germany, the Netherlands and Finland, each with over 50, and the Czech Republic, Ireland and Sweden, with over 30.

As in previous years, research on responses to the drug situation, and on prevalence, incidence and patterns of drug use each accounted for approximately a third of the recent studies, and the consequences of drug use for a fifth ('Figure 1: Research subjects of national drug-related studies cited in the 2009 Reitox national reports (percentage of all studies cited)'). Compared with last year, about 40 more studies on supply and markets were cited. While this was largely due to a special data collection on cannabis markets coordinated by the EMCDDA in 2009, it also indicates a growing interest in studies in the supply area.

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(1) Documents and presentations of the conference, including full study report, are available on the conference website.

(2) Available on the Drug-related research page on the EMCDDA website.

About the EMCDDA

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Monday, 25 October 2010