Dear Ambassadors and members of the Lisbon diplomatic community
Dear Representatives of the Portuguese authorities
Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends
It is my great pleasure to welcome you today, together with the Chairman of the EMCDDA Management Board Dr João Goulão, to this reception celebrating International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. I am really glad to see, that this year again, you — the diplomatic community in Lisbon, our partners from the Portuguese authorities and the EU bodies in Portugal — have joined us in large numbers.
International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking was established by the United Nations in 1987 to strengthen action and cooperation in tackling the drugs problem and in creating safer and healthier societies across the world.
The slogan chosen by the United Nations for this year is: Make health your 'new high' in life, not drugs. Marking the day, the UNODC launches at the same time as our gathering here its World drug report 2013, which, this year, has quite a strong focus on new psychoactive substances.
As most of you are aware, the issue of new psychoactive substances has been at the heart of the EMCDDA’s work for some years already.
Last year alone, a total of 73 new psychoactive substances were officially notified via the EU early warning system that we run with Europol. This early warning system was recently acknowledged in a G8 statement of intent on collecting and sharing data on new psychoactive substances.
This week (27–28 June), we are co-hosting with Europol — here at the newly named ‘Praça Europa’ — the Third international multidisciplinary forum on new drugs.
- In this forum we will bring together over 100 international experts representing a wide range of disciplines (e.g. epidemiology, forensic science, healthcare, law enforcement, criminology and policy).
- We will have representatives from the 30 EMCDDA member countries, as well as from Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Ukraine and the USA.And we will have representatives from: Europol, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Commission, as well as from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
This Third forum will build on the results of the first forum, which the EMCDDA organised in Lisbon in 2011, and the second, co-organised with the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the EMCDDA in Palm Springs in 2012.
Almost half of the year is over and I must say that up until now, 2013 has been a particularly challenging one for the EMCDDA. Let me just mention a few of the highlights:
- With the entry into force of the EU drugs strategy for 2013–2020, we are playing an even more central role in monitoring and evaluating the drugs problem at EU level.
- At the beginning of the year, we launched with Europol the first strategic analysis of European drug markets. This publication combines Europol’s strategic and operational understanding of trends and developments in organised crime with the EMCDDA’s ongoing monitoring and analysis of the drug situation in Europe and beyond.
- Last month, we presented the European Drug Report: Trends and developments. This new report now comes out some five months earlier than our previous annual report. It has a strong focus on graphics and it is accompanied by a number of online topic-based publications and statistics. From the European Drug Report, you can learn that for many of the drugs that have defined the drugs problem over the last couple of decades — such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis — the situation is stable or even declining. You can also find detailed information about the increasing complexity and escalating dynamics that we are confronted with regarding stimulants and new psychoactive substances.
- And today, we are launching a new report, Models of addiction, which covers not only substance-based addictions but also behavioural ones such as gambling or compulsive use of the Internet.
Ladies and gentlemen, Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the new Director of EMSA Markku Mylly, who is at this event for the first time, for the breath of fresh air he has given to the cooperation between our two EU agencies.
And I would also like to acknowledge once again the constant support we receive from the Portuguese authorities — in particular the Parliament, Government, the Municipality of Lisbon and the Lisbon Port Authority — and the productive working relationship we have forged with them. Not wishing to go into more detail here, I cannot avoid mentioning the administrative services of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Finance — their continuing support contributes significantly to facilitating our work.