12. DRUG-RELATED HEALTH DAMAGE
Draft Council Recommendation on the prevention and reduction of risks associated with drug dependence.
|Legal base:||Article 152 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
|Document originated:||8 May 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:||15 May 2002
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 23 May 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None; but see (20695) 12555/99: HC 23-ii (1999-2000), paragraph 19 (1 December 1999).
|To be discussed in Council:||26 June 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Cleared, but relevant to debate already recommended in European Standing Committee B on the EU Action Plan on drugs
12.1 In November 1999, the Commission put forward a European
Drugs Strategy (2000-2004),
which was endorsed by the Helsinki European Council in December
of that year. This set three main public health targets, one of
which was to reduce substantially over five years the incidence
of drug-related health damage (HIV, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis
etc) and the number of drug-related deaths.
The current document
12.2 The main aim of this Recommendation from the Commission
is to encourage Member States to take the steps needed to achieve
such a reduction. These include information and counselling; outreach
work (with peer involvement, and networking between the agencies
concerned); comprehensive substitution treatment, adequate vaccination
against hepatitis B, and appropriate access to needles and syringes;
increased integration between health and social care; the availability
of emergency services; and the training and accreditation of professionals.
Member States are also recommended to increase the effectiveness
and efficiency of their efforts by the use of scientific evidence
and appropriate data collection, needs assessment, quality criteria,
innovative measures, and evaluation training programmes. These
steps would be backed up by exchanges of information within the
Community, and Member States would be required to report to the
Commission within two years on the steps they have taken, in order
to provide a basis for any possible follow-up action.
The Government's view
12.3 In her Explanatory Memorandum of 23 May 2002, the
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health at the
Department of Health (Hazel Blears) says that the Government agrees
that there is a need for Community co-ordination of policies to
limit the spread of communicable diseases linked to drug addiction,
and that, if agreed, the Recommendation would provide a clear
statement of intent, which would also serve as useful guidance
for the development of drug policy in the applicant countries
(which she points out would be in the UK interest). She adds that
a common position within the Community would also be useful in
the wider international context. Her main concern is that any
costs arising from the proposed reporting arrangements should
be contained by their gradual development, and that any monitoring
requirements use existing mechanisms.
12.4 This document deals with one aspect of a wider
Action Plan on drugs on which we have already reported, and on
which there is an outstanding recommendation for a debate in European
Standing Committee B.
In view of this, and the fact that the current document comprises
a non-binding Recommendation, we are content to clear it. It is,
however, relevant to the Standing Committee debate, and, as our
recommendation was made nearly eight months ago, we urge the Government
to make the necessary arrangements without further delay.
12555/99; see headnote. Back
10207/01; see HC 152-ii (2001-02), paragraph 4 (17 October 2001). Back