This month, Sweden took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU with a pledge to focus on security, competitiveness, green and energy transitions, democratic values and the rule of law. Over the next six months, the country will lead work at all levels of the Council, building cooperation, agreement and solidarity between EU Member States.
In the field of drugs, Sweden now chairs the Council’s Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG), with six meetings scheduled with the EU Member States, and additional dialogues on drugs planned with international partners and civil society (including the United States, Brazil, the Western Balkans, the CELAC countries and the Civil Society Forum on Drugs). The HDG will be presided over by Ms Malin Skäringer,Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Justice, and Mr David Lorentzon, Deputy Director at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of Sweden. Its first meeting of the year was held this week on 10-11 January.
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During its presidency of the HDG, Sweden will prioritise the following themes:
- Gender and drugs: treatment and care addressing the specific needs of women; women’s role in the illicit drug trade; drug-related deaths and differences between women and men; gender-based violence and the connection to drugs.
- Young people and drugs: their role in the illicit drug trade, recruitment to criminal networks, drug use and prevention.
- Synthetic opioids: thematic discussion on synthetic opioids, the non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids and challenges seen in Europe.
The HDG is responsible for leading and managing the Council’s work in the drugs domain and carries out legislative and general policy work in the areas of supply reduction and demand reduction. Its main goals are to: develop EU legislation, strategies, action plans and other relevant documents in the drugs field; exchange information between EU Member States and with third countries on national policies; and coordinate measures taken by Member States both in Europe and beyond.
Continuing the work of the outgoing Czech presidency — and based on the EU drugs strategy for 2021–25 — Sweden will have as one of its main objectives to further discussions on the European Regulation on the EU Drugs Agency.
Finally, Sweden will lead the EU and its Member States at the 66th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (13–17 March, Vienna) and will convene a meeting of the National Drug Coordinators (2–4 May, Malmö) on the subject of ‘Children, young people and drugs’.
This is the third time Sweden has held the EU Presidency (2001, 2009, 2023) since joining the EU in 1995.