These are the minutes from the 59th meeting of the heads of focal points of the Reitox network which took place in Lisbon on the 22-24 May 2018.
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Update on key recent and future policy and institutional developments (Plenary session II)
· The Chair of the EMCDDA Management Board, Ms Laura d’Arrigo, who had expressed a strong interest in meeting the members of the Reitox network, highlighted the fact that the accomplishments of the EMCDDA are to a very large extent due to the strong work of the Reitox network and of the people behind each NFP. The Chair of the Management Board further stated that the clear strategic guidance provided by the Strategy 2025 and the Reitox Development Framework, as well as the existing good communication between the several internal stakeholders, are key to ensure that the agency will succeed facing future challenges and developments, such as: the new multi-annual financial framework, Brexit and the new the EU institutions (Parliament and Commission);
· The Director of the EMCDDA provided an update on EMCDDA activitieswith a special focus on: 1) the implementation of the Strategy 2025 priorities; b) the external evaluation; c) support to the Council (including the discussions on the ARQ at the HDG), the EP (new MFF starting in 2021 and whose principles will be decided now) and to the EC (including a closer cooperation with DG Santé);
· Two NFPs provided information on national developments: mandate of the hosting body of the Cypriot NFP has been extended to tobacco and gambling monitoring; in Spain there is a new National Strategy on Addictions 2017-2024 including addictive behaviours other than only substance-related;
· The new EC representative, Ms Hofer, gave an update on the main EUdevelopmentsand priorities, which are: the EMCDDA external evaluation, the implementation of the new NPS legislation and the revision of the ARQ in view of the 2019 CND meeting. Other activities planned are: the international dialogue with CELAC, the multiannual financial framework, the public consultation on drug precursors; and the renewal of membership of the civil society forum on drugs (previous mandate 2015-2017);
· The results of the UNODC technical group meeting on the revision of the ARQ were presented: there is a serious issue with the availability of data with the exception of prevalence indicators. Furthermore, compliance with data collection standards from non-EU Member States is not satisfying and the collaboration between the UN agencies could be improved. In view of this, a restructuring of the ARQ is envisaged, a possible solution being a modular ARQ according to the data availability in the countries. There is a risk that an increasing role would be given to national statistical offices with the NFP having a less important role. UNODC is looking for resources to implement recommendations.
- Centre to upload on the RTX Extranet the UNODC recommendations on the revision of the ARQ resulting from the technical meeting;
- ARQ reporting to be included on the next agenda of HFPs meeting.
External Evaluation of the EMCDDA (Plenary Session III)
· The Director informed that the consulting company ICF had been selected to perform the 4thexternal evaluation of the EMCDDA. It will mainly analyse the compliance of the EMCDDA to its mandate, its performance and its impact (how the EMCDDA contributes to a change). The European Commission relies on the EMCDDA and the Reitox NFPs to support the definition and assessment of the EU drug policy, the aim of the evaluation being to improve the current state of the art.
- EMCDDA to share the link to the online public consultation and NFPs to advert it to their networks.
- NFPs will be contacted soon by the evaluators for replying to a questionnaire and for interviews.
Publications and cross-cooperation projects (Plenary Session IV)
· There will be approximately 109 EMCDDA products launched in 2018, including scientific articles.
· Communication with the press officers of the NFPs could be improved, as generally they are working for the hosting body of the NFP and as such not specialised in drugs and/or addictions;
· NFPs were invited to translate the EMCDDA publications whenever they see the need – e.g. the Czech NFP is translating the Health and Responses guide – and to share these translations with the Centre to allow dissemination on the EMCDDA website. At the moment, translation by the EMCDDA of its outputs into national languages is limited to the EDR (in all the EMCDDA languages) and to a few other products (e.g. some PODs, policy and practice briefings from the Responses Guide) available in only some of the languages (e.g. FR, DE, PT, ES, IT and PL). The choice of languages has so far been based on the number of countries covered by a specific language or on a country’s population size. It was agreed that one of the Scandinavian languages would also be considered for future translations.
· The list of the EC funded drug-related research was presented. An update was given on the EU agencies network for scientific advice (EU-ANSA) of EU agencies involved in EU research. In 2018, the network will be chaired by the EMCDDA and, among other topics, will discuss ‘open access’ publications, open publishing. Maria Moreira will be happy to provide more information upon request. Research WBs (input on national research priorities) were used to inform EMCDDA Scientific Committee input for HDG's 2018 Annual Dialogue on Research. It was clarified that budget of the RTX Grants could possibly be used for costs associated to publication in scientific journals.
- Centre to make scientific articles available on RTX Extranet
- NFPs translating EMCDDA publications invited to share the translations with the Centre;
- EMCDDA to upload Scientific Committee’s input for HDG's 2018 Annual Dialogue on Research on the RTX extranet
- EMCDDA to feedback on EU-ANSA meetings on issues related to scientific publishing, open scientific publishing and to include it in a future meeting agenda.
· Two bilateral meetings were held on NFP management. Action points agreed directly with each NFP.
National reporting package and quality issues (Plenary Session V)
· Feedback from 2017 reporting:The overall quality of information reported by the NFPs is improving and the feedbacks on the workbooks indicate that an unevenness still exists within the country responses: many excellent and some relatively short on information. There is a range of possible reasons but the collaboration will continue to increase the improvements.
· Revision of tools for 2019 reporting:the envisaged changes will be minor and limited to the templates. Only two Structured Questionnaires 25-26 are still part of the NRP. The Centre will look into options for their collection. Further information will be shared in view of the November meeting;
· One HNFP stated that they would be interested in using data in Fonte but not publically available/ shared through the Statistical Bulletin (SB). Should there be other NFPs interested to access this kind of ‘non-published data available in Fonte’, the issue may be discussed at a later stage;
· Progress report on the implementation of the revised EU drug supply indicatorsshows that overall the progress made in the supply area thus far is actually rather good. Some countries already manage to adapt their national reporting systems. For others it is still difficult and need further efforts to align. Combining the progress made in terms of quantitative data supplied in the standard tables, the qualitative information provided in WBs as well as the ad hoc information collected expert networks and from meetings and conferences, the EMCDDA’s strategic overview of the EU drug market is now more than ever, well-supported by evidence;
· Process and timetable of the assessment of the implementation of the 5 KI: no major question raised after the presentation made on this topic. At the end of this exercise, more emphasis will be given to control the follow-up of the recommendations at national level.
- Centre to highlight changes to the workbooks templates in the draft reporting guidelines for 2019;
- NFPs are asked to clarify which additional tables they would like to see in the statistical bulletin;
- Report on the implementation of the supply indicators to be shared by the Centre;
- Centre to send for NFP consultation the 5KI assessments; 1month will be given for reaction.
EDR package and national launches (Plenary Session VI)
· NFPs were informed about the launch of the EDR 2018 scheduled for 7 June in Brussels, including a presentation of the EDR package highlights. It was noted that in some cases, when a specific problem is highlighted in the main press release but apply to a small number of countries, it creates sometimes confusion among the media in the countries where this problem does not apply or where serious issues are not mentioned in the main press release. Cannabis with low THC could be a topic of big interest for the media this year, as well as the fact that there is a decrease of NPS this year as well.
· A feedback from technical meeting on the CDR was provided and all agreed that the process of drafting and consultation improved compared to the previous year. Several questions were raised and it was agreed would be dealt in bilateral meetings;
- Centre to share the nuggets on cannabis treatment and cannabis policy and all the other documents that could be useful for the launch of the EDR as soon as they are available;
- A look-a-like printed version of few CDR will be made available on the RTX extranet as soon as possible.
Updates on activities (Plenary Session VII)
Drug markets, crime and supply reduction; NPS:
· Updates were given on the monitoring drug-related homicide project; on open source information (OSI), which can supplement routine monitoring and add value at European and national levels, overcoming some of the challenges of routine data; and on the Irish project related to the drug-related intimidation.
· The 2019 EDMR will keep the same structure as the previous one – 1 Cross-cutting issues; 2 Chapters on individual drugs; 3 Policies and responses – The European Commission has requested updates to the market size estimates, and to what extent drug trafficking is linked to migrant smuggling, trafficking of human beings and terrorism. It will be launched in the second half of May 2019 and NFPs will be consulted on the draft report (second half of February 2019 TBC), as in the previous years.
· Regarding the new Regulation (EU) 2017/2101 on information exchange on, and an EWS and risk assessment procedure for, NPS, there will be follow-up discussions and training on the EDND II during the upcoming annual meeting of the Reitox EWS Network. Furthermore, EMCDDA is drafting new Operating Guidelines for the EWS and new Operating Guidelines for Risk Assessment and a new risk assessment procedure in order to meet the requirements of the new Regulation.
Health related issues
· An update on the recent publications in the area of public health, the latest meetings and on-going projects was given. NFPs showed an interest on drug checking in recreational settings and on drug consumption rooms, as both are currently sensitive topics in many countries. Several NFP expressed some difficulties in managing the national liaisons in the light of expert meetings coordinated by EMCDDA and the need for continued attention to a structured/open communication to the NFP in the preparatory steps of those meetings.
· Positive feedbacks from Denmark, Portugal and Cyprus were given on the national trendspotters experiences. In 2019, there will be a new round of trendspotter methodology training.
· The policy evaluation workshop, building on the seven step guide to support drug policy evaluation, will be piloted in the second half of the year and targets staff involved in the management and or commissioning of drug policy evaluations. Countries can express their interest by contacting the policy evaluation team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- An internal assessment of information needs started in view of supporting the future evaluation of the EU drug strategy. A feedback will be given to the NFPs in the second half of the year.
- For the Drug Market report NFPs are kindly asked to report the standard tables into fonte and the Markets and Crime workbook, by mid-September;
- Information on the implementation of the EWS new regulation will be included in the next HFPs meeting;
- Launch of a pilot blog on science to practice, NFPs will be contacted shortly by the Centre;
- NFPs can register for the policy alerts if not yet done.
RDF – Roadmap 2020 implementing plan (Plenary Session VIII)
· It was clarified that the purpose of the exercise was to agree on how and when to implement the activities foreseen in the RDF and in particular the milestones in the Roadmap 2020 adopted in November 2017. The draft implementing plan includes a list of possible activities for 2018 and 2019, some of which are already on-going as part of routine work.
· A feedback from technical meeting of 20 March was also provided, including a proposal to discuss during the HNPFs meeting the draft Implementing plan document on three parallel sessions covering each different sections of the RDF roadmap, which was accepted;
· Each group discussed the corresponding part of the document and appointed a rapporteur who provided feedback at the Plenary Session that followed the work of the groups. Finally, the document was reviewed by blocks with a series of proposals for change discussed and agreed.
- Centre to incorporate all agreed comments and changes in the Implementing plan of the Roadmap 2020, to agree them with the Spokespersons during the VTC of 5 June and to send the resulting draft to the whole network for final comments;
- NFP not having requested the Director of the EMCDDA to send a letter to their national stakeholders promoting the RDF may still address a request to the Reitox unit.
RTX network business (Plenary Session IX)
· Clarification on the eligible costs within the grant agreements was given in order to facilitate for the NFPs the reporting process and management of the grants. Follow-up will be done during the RTX academy on grants, for 10 countries showed interest in attending.
· Two NFPs informed that they will be using the self-assessment questionnaires of the accreditation in the future months.
· The upcoming 2018 RTX Academies were presented with a special focus on the following ones: Universal Prevention Curricula (Prague, November), Communication (Lisbon, October) and Grants management (Lisbon, possibly also October).
- Centre to finalise draft agenda of upcoming Reitox academies and send more information before Summer, including any other requests;
- NFPs to foresee the cost of their participation through the 2018 Grant.
Promotion of HCV Testing (Plenary Session X)
· The purpose of this project is to promote HCV testing among PWID and to contribute to capacity building regarding viral hepatitis among drug treatment settings. Three interlinked modules will be made available: a structured situation assessment (allowing the diagnosis of current needs and shortcomings in the area of HCV testing in drug treatment settings – problem definition); examples of intervention practices and implementation processes; and evidence-based information materials on HCV testing. The drug treatment setting is defined to cover all facilities providing social and medical assistance, counselling and drug dependence treatment to people who use drugs, including low threshold harm reduction agencies. This pilot project also aims to test and assess the potential for developing EMCDDA services regarding other health and social responses.
- Centre to send a summary document to the NFPs with different options for future activities and possible involvement of the NFPs in its implementation.
- NFPs to express their interest and scope of possible participation. Sharing national experience with the network would be appreciated.