The European Federation of Addiction Societies (www.EUFAS.net) comprises 35 scientific societies from 25 European countries. Their portfolio deals with research, treatment and prevention of addictions in their respective countries. The major goals of EUFAS are to harmonise prevention and treatment and to strengthen addiction research in the European Union.
Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness. Running from 2014 to 2020 with an €80 billion budget, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe.
Horizon 2020 will:
- Respond to the economic crisis by investing in future jobs and growth
- Address peoples’ concerns about their livelihoods, safety and environment
- Strengthen the EU’s global position in research, innovation and technology.
The EU drugs strategy
A new EU drugs strategy (2013–20) was endorsed by the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union on 7th December 2012(*). Two consecutive four-year action plans will be structured around two policy areas: drug demand reduction and drug supply reduction; and three cross-cutting themes: coordination; international cooperation; and information, research, monitoring and evaluation.
The EU Drugs Strategy requests to contribute to a better dissemination of monitoring, research and evaluation results and a better understanding of all aspects of the drugs phenomenon and of the impact of interventions in order to provide sound and comprehensive evidence-base for policies and actions
In the field of drug demand reduction the following priorities are clearly listed:
(19.4) Invest in and further research on effective risk and harm reduction measures aimed at substantially reducing the number of direct and indirect drug-related deaths and infectious blood-borne diseases, associated with drug use, but not limited to, HIV and viral hepatitis as well as sexually transmittable diseases and tuberculosis.
(31) Contribute to a better understanding of all aspects of the drugs phenomenon and of the impact of measures in order to provide sound and comprehensive evidence for policies and actions. Contribute to a better dissemination of monitoring, research and evaluation results.
(32.1) The EU and its Member States should continue to invest in information exchange, data collection and monitoring, and in research and evaluation of the drug situation and responses to it at national and EU level. This should cover all relevant aspects of the drug phenomenon, including drug demand and drug supply.
(32.6) Member States, EU institutions and agencies should promote and support research, including applied research, into new psychoactive substances and ensure cooperation and coordination between networks at national and EU level in order to strengthen the understanding of the phenomenon.
(32.8). Ensure adequate financing for drug-related research and development projects at EU and national level, according to financial resources including through the EU financial programmes covering the period 2014-2020.
Statements by the EMCDDA and its Scientific Committee
The EMCDDA, which has been monitoring drug-related research in Europe since 2007, has concluded that
- a clear framework for European drug-related research is needed.
The EMCDDA’s Scientific Committee presented detailed recommendations (EMCDDA’s Scientific Committee, 2011) under the following general priorities:
- EU research and innovation funding that maximises the benefits of acting at the EU level is vital, particularly in cross-border research on societal challenges, such as drug-related research. There is a need for well-coordinated research across the European Union, where common research questions are answered.
- The future common strategic framework can only make EU research and innovation funding more attractive and easy to access for participants if the whole process is made more transparent and easier to follow up on, even by inexperienced EC-funding applicants.
- EU funding needs to improve in terms of how best to cover the full innovation cycle, which goes from research to practice, by analysing and strategically prioritising the research topics and gaps in each area, coordinating research calls in a complementary way, especially for cross-cutting areas, and by further promoting the dissemination and implementation of research findings.
- Greater priority needs to be given to researcher-initiated projects. Further coordination needs to be promoted on research topics and findings between the bottom-up research projects, currently funded under the European Research Council, and the top-down ones, currently funded under the cooperation programmes, so that the advantages of both approaches can be optimised and world class excellence in research is achieved.
- Indicators for monitoring EU research and innovation funding should continue to focus on scientific quality but also on dissemination of findings, capacity building and knowledge transfer.
- In 2013 the Scientific Committee has proposed a well-developed method to follow for the selection of knowledge gaps to be researched.
- As priority areas in 2013 the Scientific Committee has indicated, besides others, organisation and management of health and social care; matching interventions with clients; and policy evaluation.
Addiction involves multiple factors: biology, environment, and brain functions. Due to the multidisciplinary character of the subject research needs often have not been clearly understood and formulated and policy support has been lacking. Today a range of research topics show slacking evidence.
Results coming from pure translation of US findings to Europe are often impossible to be implemented because of major differences in social environment and in health services delivery.
At the same time the economic impact of existing EU addiction research consistently illustrates that its economic benefits outweigh costs, in terms of health, crime, social stability, and community well-being.
With the end of the 7th framework programme, Horizon 2020 has taken over the lead in EU research funding and support. Important other programmes which have supported studies in the past have come to an end, e.g. the Drugs Prevention and Information Programme and the Programme for Community action in the field of health 2007–13.
The European Parliament, namely
- members of the ENVI Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee
- members of the LIBE Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee
- members of the ITRE Industry, Research and Energy Committee
The European Commissioners, namely
- Mrs. Viviane Reding, Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship
- Mrs. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation, and Science
- Mrs. Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs
- Mr. Tonio Borg, Commissioner for Health
- the need for a consistent and sustainable framework to further develop our knowledge and tools to overcome addiction,
- the need for consistent and sustainable addiction research funding in the next decade and to consider this in future policy considerations.
Date: November 18th, 2013
President of EUFAS