This month, Spain took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU with the motto ‘Europe, closer’, reflecting the human, political and institutional closeness of the European project. Over the six months, the country will lead work at all levels of the Council, building cooperation, agreement and solidarity between EU Member States. This is the fifth time Spain has held the presidency since its accession to the EU in 1986.
The Spanish presidency has established four overall priorities:
- reindustrialising the EU and guaranteeing its open strategic autonomy;
- advancing in the green transition and environmental adaptation;
- promoting greater social and economic justice; and
- strengthening European unity.
Spain will now chair the Council’s Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) (1), which will be presided over by Ms Elena Alvarez, Deputy Director of Institutional Relations at the Spanish Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs (Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Welfare). Ms Alvarez is a member of the EMCDDA Management Board.
The first meeting of the HDG under the presidency took place on 11 and 12 July, where thematic debates were held on the two drug-related priorities identified:
- people who use drugs and mental health; and
- special regional plans to tackle drug trafficking in highly affected areas.
Other areas of interest of the presidency include the destruction of drugs and effects seized and reinforcing ties with Latin America. One of the milestones of the presidency is the EU-CELAC Summit (17–18 July) between the EU and the countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). In the coming months, Spain will also convene a meeting of the National Drug Coordinators on the subject of harm/risk reduction.
In addition to the regular HDG meetings, involving the EU Member States, further dialogues on drugs are planned with international partners and civil society. These include dialogues with the United States, China, Colombia, the CELAC and Central Asian countries and the Civil Society Forum on Drugs.