European and International Drug Policy

EU Drug Strategy and Action Plans on Drugs

In December 2012, the Council of the European Union (Justice and Home Affairs) adopted the Draft EU Drug Strategy (2013-2020). The strategy focuses on five subject areas: demand reduction, supply reduction, co-ordination, international co-operation and information, research and evaluation. The objective is to set out the strategic development of the EU's drug policy on a long-term basis, delineating a limited number of clearly defined goals. The new strategy also pursues an approach in drug policy that strikes a balance between measures to reduce supply and measures to reduce demand. The details of the concrete measures for implementing the strategy are specified in two successive four-year action plans. The first action plan for the period 2013-2016 was negotiated under the Irish Council Presidency and adopted by the Council in June 2013.

Horizontal Working Party on Drugs

Topics regarding drug policy in the different areas of the EU (inter alia Health, Home Affairs and Justice, Criminal Law, Customs) are coordinated by the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs and combined to form a European drug policy. The HDG is a working group of the Council of the European Union, in which representatives of the governments of all Member States work together. The HDG monitors, among other things, the implementation and evaluation of the measures contained in the EU Action Plans on Drugs and coordinates the EU's common approach within the framework of the United Nations drug policy.

Announcement: The first joint call for proposals by ERANID is online!

The European Research Area Network on Illicit Drugs (ERANID) was included in the EU's Seventh Framework Research Programme. The objective of ERANID is to improve research in the EU on illicit drugs by improving co-ordination, co-operation and the use of existing synergies among regional and national research programmes. The subject of the first call for proposals is understanding the progression of drug consumption, beginning with initiation through experimental use, the transition to persistent use, the development of addiction and, going further, the different exit options. Applications can be submitted up to 24th November 2015. Additional information is available at:

Meeting of the EU National Drug Coordinators

The EU National Drug Coordinators meet twice a year at the invitation of the country currently holding the EU Council Presidency. Ms Mortler regularly attends this one to two-day meeting.

59th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and UNGASS 2016

The 59th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) took place from 14th to 16th March 2016 in Vienna. In her opening speech, Marlene Mortler called for a balanced approach in international drug policy. "Instead of waging a war on drugs, and drug addicts, we must make the individual the focal point of our activities – what has long been self-evident for us, must also become the guiding principle of international drug policy". It is not about amending the Conventions, but about making use of the room for manoeuvre they offer. Healthcare must be at the forefront of our actions: from prevention to providing assistance for drug addicts.

The President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Werner Sipp, emphasised that the UN Conventions against illicit drugs foster a health-oriented drug policy. Indeed, they reject the non-medical use of controlled substances such as cannabis – and with good reason. Marlene Mortler drew attention to the fact that Germany is embracing its responsibility and will be making cannabis available as a medicine for even more seriously ill patients in the future. A corresponding Bill of Law is currently in the co-ordination phase.

In his speech, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, also referred to the importance of making effective treatment options available to drug addicts, including treatment with opiate substitutes. Furthermore, he spoke out against the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences.

An additional topic of the 59th CND session was the situation in the drug-producing countries. In order to cope with the enormous challenges, the situation must also be addressed within the countries themselves.

At my initiative, Germany recently launched a global programme on alternative development that opens up perspectives other than drug cultivation for farmers in the producing countries. The programme consists of very concrete support on the ground.

Marlene Mortler, Drug Commissioner of the Federal Government

The CND session in Vienna is the principal preparatory body for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drug Policy. The General Assembly will take place from 19th to 21st April in New York. There, after years of waging war on drugs, an about-turn is expected in the direction of a health and human rights-oriented drug policy, as has long been the standard upheld in Western Europe and called for by the European Union.

Management Board elections

Since 1st Jan 2016, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in Lisbon has been led by a new director. On 10th September 2015, the EMCDDA Management Board elected Alexis Goosdeel from Beligum, with a clear majority, to succeed Wolfgang Götz. Mr Goosdeel had previously been the Head of the agency's Reitox and international relations unit.

European and German Monitoring Centres for Drugs and Drug Addiction

The task of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is to provide the EU and its Member States with a factual overview of the European drug situation and create a joint information framework for the discussions on drugs. To this end, some 30 national monitoring centres collect the necessary objective, comparable data and take the EMCDDA's results back to the individual Member States. In Germany, this task is fulfilled jointly by the Federal Centre for Health Education, the German Centre for Addiction Issues and the Munich Institute for Therapy Research, under the name of the 'German Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction'. The Institute for Therapy Research in Munich is responsible for managing and coordinating the centre's work.

For more information:

International development cooperation

Commitment to a development-oriented drug policy

Together with partner countries and international organisations within the UN framework, Germany strongly supports the implementation of measures consistent with a development-oriented drug policy. In this context, the Federal Government funds food security and alternative development projects in Laos and Myanmar, as well as in Peru and Bolivia, within the framework of which small farmers are assisted in developing alternative production means and practices in forestry and agroforestry, thereby creating jobs and income.


The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is being advised by the Sector Project "Rural Development" that is run by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The Sector Project makes a key contribution towards adapting development cooperation projects, in the producing and transit countries, to the special conditions obtaining in drug economies as well as providing advice. At the same time, it develops and tests tools and concepts for the specific type of development cooperation work required in a drugs environment. The aim is to support people in drug-producing areas, within the framework of broad-based rural development measures, so that they can achieve alternative social and economic life perspectives and thereby reduce their economic dependency on drug production in the long term. For more information:

Furthermore, Germany is undertaking efforts to introduce the development-oriented drug policy approach into its dialogue with partner countries, the European Union and the United Nations. During the review of global drug policy as well as the negotiations on the political declaration and the UN Plan of Action, the Federal Government was able to make its own distinct mark by accentuating development-oriented positions. In the process, it has come out in favour of drug policy strategies that can be reconciled with development policy principles and are mindful of the protection of human rights. Within this process, Germany was able to enshrine the alternative development approach (which contains the principles and measures of the development-oriented drug policy deemed important by the Federal Government) in the relevant UN reference documents and resolutions.

Commitment to harm reduction methods

The number of injecting drug addicts is estimated at 16 million persons worldwide. Approximately 80% of these persons live in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This must be seen, above all, against the background of the alarming epidemiological trends in HIV transmission in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, as well as South and South-east Asia, which are predominantly caused by intravenous drug use and prostitution. The Federal Government currently funds harm reduction measures particularly in the context of HIV prevention in Nepal, India, Malaysia, Ukraine and various countries of Central Asia.

Recognition of the harm reduction approach has increased markedly in recent years, in United Nations circles. Germany advocates this approach, both nationally and internationally, and is able to draw on many years of wide-ranging experience in this area. Germany sets international standards, for example in opiate substitution therapy (OST), and the demand for German expertise and experience in this area is on the rise. As a result of this increasing international demand, Germany is deploying more experienced experts, abroad, in the projects and programmes conducted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, with an emphasis on substitution therapy and gender-specific approaches.