This week, the EMCDDA is hosting the closing conference of its international cooperation projects with the Western Balkans and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) region (1). The two-day event, kicking off today, is being held in the margins of Lisbon Addictions 2022, Europe’s largest conference in the area of addictions.
The objective of the two projects is to familiarise the project beneficiaries with EU policies and working methods and to prepare them for consolidated and structured reporting to the EMCDDA.
Under the theme ‘Drugs beyond EU borders: emerging trends and preparedness’, the event focuses on cross-border drug-related health and security threats in the Western Balkans and on drug markets and emerging drug-related challenges in the ENP region. Three EMCDDA regional reports examining these issues are published today (2).
Over 80 participants — from 18 partners, EU institutions and other bodies — are attending the meeting (in Lisbon and online) to discuss the results of this cooperation. Among others, experts will look at the preparedness of health and security services in the regions to address the emerging threat of cocaine trafficking and use. The meeting will also provide a platform for partners to present work undertaken in the framework of the projects aimed at improving knowledge on the drug situation in the region and at scaling up responses.
Also on the agenda is an award ceremony, during which participants of a recent online training course — ‘Reitox Academy on national report writing’ — will receive certificates. During the ceremony, the updated national drug situation overviews of Serbia and Northern Macedonia will be launched. These reports are the result of an 8-month online capacity-building exercise, organised with the support of the Austrian Reitox national focal point.
Finally, in cooperation with the Portuguese national focal point (SICAD), the meeting will conclude with onsite visits to: a commission for the dissuasion of drug use; a judicial police forensic laboratory; a community-based harm reduction programme; a low-threshold mobile unit for methadone distribution and a drug consumption room.
The EMCDDA and the European Commission are currently finalising negotiations on the follow up of the projects for all regions (Western Balkans, ENP-East and ENP-South).