Fifty countries gather for 2020 virtual Reitox week

Representatives of candidate, potential candidate and neighbouring countries of the EU are joining members of the EMCDDA’s Reitox network this week (23–27 November) for the agency’s ninth Reitox week. The purpose of this annual event is to broaden the scope of the regular Heads of national focal point (NFP) meetings, underline the usefulness of the EU drug monitoring model; add impetus to the agency’s technical cooperation with partners outside the EU and learn from each other’s experience.

The 2020 Reitox week, taking place for the first time virtually, unites some 50 countries, including: 29 NFPs (EU 27, Turkey and Norway); six partners of the Western Balkans (beneficiaries of the European Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance/IPA7); 14 European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries participating under the EU4Monitoring Drugs project (EU4MD); Switzerland and Russia.

The week encompasses four events:

23 November: Second meeting of the EU4MD advisory committee — The week kicks off with a meeting of the EU4MD advisory committee. This session will include project progress reports as well as updates from the partner countries, institutions and organisations. The three-year EU4MD project, funded by the European Union, involves countries in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) area, and supports national and regional readiness to identify and respond to drug-related security and health threats.

24 November: 9th Extended Reitox network meeting — This meeting, involving the 29 Reitox national focal points and representatives of the agency’s key partner countries, aims to foster the exchange of ‘know-how’ and experience on practical and thematic issues. The theme of this year’s meeting is ‘The impact of COVID-19 on drug-related issues’ and will showcase the activities carried out by the national focal points during the pandemic. This included launching new COVID-19-related surveys, creating and providing national guidelines, disseminating information to drug users and staff of drug services, and providing new services. The NFPs demonstrated their strong ability to adapt and, despite the challenges, were able to continue their work with no major disruption.

25 November: IPA7 project coordination meeting — The state of play of the IPA7 technical cooperation project will be the subject of the third meeting of the week. This will offer updates on the EMCDDA’s work on the impact of COVID-19 on drug use, markets and services, as well as specific activities in the areas of health and security. The Western Balkan partners will give briefings on drug-related activities at national level, including challenges posed by COVID-19. The IPA7 project was launched in July 2019 and aims to integrate the six IPA beneficiaries in the activities of the EMCDDA and its Reitox network.

25–27 November: 63rd Heads of Reitox national focal point meeting — The week will end with the regular Heads of focal point meeting (27 countries) and will focus on the joint EMCDDA–NFP routine network business. Topics featured on the agenda are: recent and future policy and institutional developments; the state of play of the Reitox development framework (including a new certification process for the NFPs); national reporting and EMCDDA activities in the areas of health and security.

The Reitox network is composed of 29 NFPs in the 27 EU Member States, Turkey and Norway, as well as a focal point at the European Commission. The NFPs — from which the agency draws the bulk of its data — collect and analyse national information on drugs, drawing on various sectors including health, justice and law enforcement. Reitox weeks have been held annually since 2012.