EMCDDA meeting focuses on quality standards in drug demand reduction

Quality standards in drug demand reduction will be the focus of discussions today at an EMCDDA meeting gathering experts from seven countries. The purpose of the meeting is to present how the ' Council conclusions on the implementation of minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction in the EU’, adopted by the Council in September 2015, can relate to projects at national, European and international level.

The Council conclusions list 16 standards that represent a minimum benchmark of quality for interventions in: drug use prevention, risk and harm reduction, treatment, social integration and rehabilitation.

Although non-binding for national governments, the document represents the political will of EU countries to address demand reduction interventions through an evidence-based perspective. It invites the EMCDDA to: continue gathering evidence on effective interventions in drug demand reduction; support Member States in the implementation of these standards; and include information on EU minimum quality standards in its annual reporting.

The guidelines were drawn up in the context of Action 9 of the EU action plan on drugs (2013–16) (‘Agree and commence the implementation of EU minimum quality standards, that help bridge the gap between science and practice’). The EMCDDA’s Best practice portal is expressly identified as an assessment mechanism in the plan. Under the objective to ‘Identify, promote and monitor best practice’, the EMCDDA’s Strategy and work programme 2016–18 requires the agency to monitor the implementation of these standards.

During the meeting, representatives from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia and the UK will present their perspectives on developing such standards and discuss the commonalities and differences in national experiences. Lessons learnt in quality standards in prevention and treatment will also be presented.

A representative of the European Commission, responsible for drug demand reduction, will intervene in the discussions and offer insight into what will be carried out in the future on Minimum Quality Standards at EU level. A representative from the Civil Society Forum on Drugs will speak on international collaborations in quality standards.

The meeting will discuss how minimum quality standards can be used to improve the quality of interventions. It will give rise to an EMCDDA rapid communication on the state of development of quality standards in Europe.