On 14 September 2015, the Council of the European Union adopted Council conclusions on the implementation of minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction in the EU.
The new “minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction in the EU” build on previous initiatives to formulate and establish quality standards in prevention, treatment and harm reduction, including the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) initiative (although developed through a separate activity, not directly related to the EDPQS Phase I or Phase II projects).
Recognising that implementation of standards such as the EDPQS cannot rely on engagement with practitioners alone, but requires political support at all levels, these new standards can be considered a major achievement as they have been formally endorsed by the governments of the EU Member States. It is hoped that they will provide a significant foundation upon which to implement future activities to support high quality in the drug demand reduction field (including prevention), to professionalise the workforce and strengthen existing delivery systems.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) commented on the publication of the minimum standards as follows:
“This innovative initiative lists 16 standards that represent a minimum benchmark of quality for interventions in: drug use prevention, risk and harm reduction, treatment, social integration and rehabilitation. Although non-binding for national governments, this document represents the political will of EU countries to address demand reduction interventions through an evidence-based perspective.” (http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/news/2015/eu-minimum-quality-standards)
The political process leading up to this achievement required several years of work and the long-term support and commitment of many stakeholders. The European Prevention Standards Partnership followed the development closely and supported it at several stages. A milestone in the process, for example, was the publication of a first proposal for minimum standards in 2011: the EQUS Minimum Quality Standards in Drug Demand Reduction. These were developed in collaboration with the European Prevention Standards Partnership (responsible for the prevention strand; for further details see Example 6 in our EDPQS Toolkit 4).
The work on EU minimum standards then advanced significantly during the EU Presidencies of Italy (2014) and of Latvia (2015), with a revised proposal for minimum standards drawn up and discussed in a year-long process during the meetings of the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) (highlighted in a previous blog post regarding the CND 2015 Side Event). Representatives of the European Prevention Standards Partnership provided input regarding the methods and sources used to develop the minimum standards, as well as their contents.
We are pleased that the endorsed minimum standards are fully compatible with, and make explicit reference to, the EDPQS. The EDPQS will continue to be helpful to achieve these minimum standards in the prevention field, and to think about quality standards and the practicalities of achieving quality at a more in-depth level.“Minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction interventions in the EU”