Saturday

26th May 2018

Italy and Vatican threaten EU unity in drugs talks

  • Needle exchange programmes are part of "harm reduction" measures (Photo: www.freeimages.co.uk)

Italy is threatening to undermine EU unity in high-stakes UN talks on drug abuse, with Rome appearing to take the lead from the Vatican in a recent u-turn on issues such as needle-exchange.

Heading into a UN conference on 11 March whose outcome will set the international anti-drugs policy agenda for the next 10 years, the European Union, negotiating as one bloc, has so far backed greater emphasis on "harm reduction."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Harm reduction covers programmes such as drug replacement therapy, needle exchanges to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids and keeping non-violent offenders out of prison.

The EU-backed approach stands in contrast to the US, Japan and Russia's prohibitionist line of a "War on Drugs," which in some cases stretches to the use of military force in Colombia or Afghanistan.

Until February, Sweden was the only EU member which questioned harm reduction. Health minister Maria Larsson explained to EUobserver that Stockholm believes some aspects of the policy are not in accordance with the UN Convention on Drugs and Narcotics.

Sweden did not block an EU common position on the issue, despite its views.

But Italy has now come out against the common position on harm reduction, in a surprise move that could undermine EU effectiveness in the UN talks, Italian opposition MPs Marco Perduca and Donatella Poretti told this website.

The move, made on the insistence of national anti-drugs czar Carlo Giovanardi, comes just days after the Holy See on 12 February issued a communique condemning harm reduction as "anti life."

"So-called harm reduction leads to liberalisation of the use of drugs, to an increase in the number of addicted people and to blurring of consciences, leading also to the loss of one's free will," the statement said.

"The conservative parties in Italy, when it comes to these moral issues, regularly take their opinions from the position of the Holy See," Mr Perduca said.

Mr Perduca's libertarian Radical Party is currently part of a broader centre-left opposition in Italy. The country's last centre-left administration supported methadone and needle exchange projects, but drew the line at medical use of heroin and marijuana.

"It's puzzling why Italy continues with some harm reduction measures domestically, while it seems now [to be] opposing them at the international level," Open Society Institute global drugs programme director, Kassia Malinowska, said.

"It looks like they have capitulated to a public health policy dictated to them by the Church."

GDPR - a global 'gold standard'?

The new EU privacy rules are touted as a global 'gold standard' - but Mexico's former data commissioner warns some nations are far from ready.

New GDPR enforcer says complaints imminent

The European Data Protection Board is a new EU body tasked with enforcing the EU's privacy laws with powers to impose massive fines. Its head Andrea Jelinek told reporters complaints against companies are expected to be immediate.

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach