Chapter 1
New developments in policies and laws

Introduction

Policy developments in the field of drugs among EU Member States are inevitably heterogeneous, reflecting the variety of approaches at national and European level. However, this does not preclude the existence of common features that merit analysis.

During the reporting period, foremost among these features is the way in which drugs strategies are evaluated in different Member States. The implementation of national drug strategies is evaluated in several EU countries. Although the effects of evaluation on drug policy as a whole cannot yet be determined, evaluation has already yielded some promising results: we now have a greater understanding of successes and failures, and in some cases a result of evaluation has been that more resources have been allocated to enable unrealised strategy objectives to be achieved. Moreover, the evaluation of the EU Strategy and Action Plan 2000–04 represents the first outcome of an important process in which Member States, EU institutions and specialised agencies are working together to measure progress in the field of drugs. Other policy developments taking place over the reporting period include reduction in some countries in penalties for drug use and an increase in the severity of penalties for drug trafficking and drug-related offences threatening minors.