Belgium Country Drug Report 2019

National drug strategy and coordination

National drug strategy

The drug policy of Belgium is defined in two key policy documents: the Federal Drug Policy Note of 2001 and the Common Declaration of 2010. The Federal Drug Policy Note was adopted as a long-term policy document and focuses on both illicit and licit substances, including alcohol, tobacco and psychoactive medicines.

The main goals of this document are the prevention and reduction of risks for people who use drugs, the environment and society as a whole; these goals are organised across three pillars: prevention and early intervention in drug consumption; harm reduction, treatment and reintegration; and enforcement. The Federal Drug Policy Note also states the five main principles of Belgian drug policy, which are (i) a global and integrated approach; (ii) evaluation, epidemiology and scientific research; (iii) prevention for non-users and problematic drug users; (iv) treatment, risk reduction and reintegration for problematic users; and (v) repression of producers and traffickers. The Common Declaration is a further statement and confirms the approach set out in the Federal Drug Policy Note. Given this, it can be considered a more up-to-date elaboration of Belgian drug policy.

Belgium evaluates its drug policy and strategy through routine indicator monitoring and specific research projects, in a similar way to other European countries. The evaluation of specific interventions and projects is one of the objectives of the Drug Research Program of Federal Science Policy. In 2014, the federal Minister of Public Health requested a technical analysis of Belgian cannabis policy, and a future evaluation of the Federal Drug Policy Note and Common Declaration is planned for 2019-21.


National coordination mechanisms

The Interministerial Conferences (IMCs) are designed to promote consultation and collaboration between the federal government, the Communities and the Regions. The IMC Public Health holds thematic meetings on different issues proposed by its members (e.g. the Thematic Meeting on Drugs). The General Drugs Policy Cell (GDPC), created by law and consisting of representatives from all relevant ministers at the federal and regional levels, supports the IMC in the preparation and coordination of this work on Belgian drug policy. The GDPC, supported by the Federal Public Service of Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, is involved in the operational coordination and strategic management of Belgium’s drug policy and has various responsibilities related to the implementation of this policy. Whenever needed, the GDPC can establish inter-cabinet working groups to explore certain issues in depth.

Belgium main page

Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.