Drug Policy Impact Assessment for Change in Central and Eastern Europe

While strengthening the advocacy for designing non-repressive drug policy among EU member states and at the European level, this project will focus on the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region, with pilot actions in the three Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

With the integration into the EU, CEE countries and the Baltic states have made progress towards a more balanced and less punitive drug policy as well as more attention to health and human rights concerns. Examples include the decrease of prisons sentences for drug use and drug possession for personal use in Latvia, Estonia’s naloxone distribution program for overdose prevention, etc. However, the progress made so far is not enough to fully meet the objectives of the EU Drug Strategy 2013-2020. There remains an urgent need to strengthen cooperation between countries’ legislators, law enforcement bodies, public health and public safety experts, and the civil society, including communities of people who use drugs, as well as cross-border cooperation to exchange best practices and lessons learnt during the implementation of the EU strategy.

Specific objectives of the project will be:

a.    To support the creation or use existing national communication platforms in Baltic countries between legislators, law enforcement bodies, public health and public safety experts, and the civil society in order for them to work on: the evaluation of drug policy, exchange of best practices and promotion of transparent and evidence-base decision-making for national drug policies in Baltic states (and to be used as a model for the CEE region);

b.    To improve the understanding of ‘what works’ in drug policy, in particular in the area of alternatives to incarceration and diversion from arrest, harm reduction services efficiencies and financial sustainability and harm reduction response to new psychoactive substances;

c.    To obtain national and regional consensus on changes to national drug policy/practice, needed in order to meet the targets of the EU Drug Strategy, which would build upon outcomes of the UNGASS on Drugs of 2016 and lay the foundations and building the consensus for a new Political Declaration on drugs in 2019, including through work with the future Estonian and Bulgarian Presidency of the EU.

The project will be implemented in by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network in close cooperation with two national non-governmental organizations in Latvia and Lithuania (Dia-Log and Coalition I Can Live), a public institution from Estonia National Institute for Health Development, and a regional NGO working in the area of video advocacy and communications Rights Reporter Foundations.

Strategic objective 2: Non-repressive drug policy and enabling law enforcement environment
Countries covered by the project
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
Project timeline
January 2017 - December 2018
Project donor
European Commission (EC)