The European Commission is planning to start up a dialogue
process with civil society on drug policy this year. In the month of
september 2007, a budget of approx. 1 million EURO per year should
become available for citizens’ associations to take part in a dialogue
ENCOD believes it is important that all civil society associations
involved in this process, whatever their ideological background is,
are invited to this dialogue. We present the following proposal to the concrete form this dialogue should take.
For more information, read the Green Pepper.
PROPOSAL FOR A DIALOGUE ON DRUG POLICY IN THE EU
We would like to make the following proposal for the future dialogue
process between the European Commission and civil society on drug policy
in the European Union. This proposal is based on several years of
experience with dialogue processes concerning the multifaceted drugs phenomenon at a
European, national and local level, and on an analysis of dialogue
structures on other issues in the European Union.
This proposal contains suggestions for the objectives, methodology,
structure, framework, content, outcomes and practical organisation of the
The objectives of the dialogue should be to engage all participants; and
enhance their understanding of the drug phenomenon. It is important to ensure
that a consensus amongst civil society organisations behind certain
recommendations that they may wish to make to policy-makers is the widest
possible, so that such recommendations can become clear signals to the institutions of the European Union.
The methodology should be designed to create an environment where all participants can
feel confident. Civil society has long been ignored in the
drug policy-making process, so the first expectation is to be allowed
to speak and be listened to. On the other hand, it is important to avoid
the dialogue becoming a discussion where participants seek to impose their views rather than listening and understanding the views of others.
The detailed structure of the dialogue should be agreed upon by both
representatives of EU institutions and of civil society together. It should
respect the diversity of all existing networks and organisations.
Transparency and accessibility should be safeguarded during the entire
A possible structure could consist of two instruments:
1. Independent body
An independent body can be created, with equal representation of
European networks of civil society organisations on one side and
European Union authorities on the other. The body (of max. 25 people) is
moderated by a Member of the European Parliament. This body meets twice
a year, in order to supervise the process that will take place in the
civil society forum (plenary session and working groups). Thus, it can
ensure that all decisions around the forum are taken in a transparent
way. This body discusses proposals to feed the dialogue process and the
follow up that may be given to the recommendations that arise from it.
Meetings of this body could coincide with the annual meetings of the
Horizontal Drugs Group where the EU Action Plan is evaluated, with the
aim of including the input from civil society in this evaluation process.
The European civil society representatives who would participate in this
independent body should be chosen by the civil society forum (see 2.).,
taking account of mechanisms to safeguard the geographic, organisational
and sectorial representativity. Ideally, they should cover the largest
possible number of affected and concerned citizens: consumers,
relatives, health workers, experts and involved citizens.
2. The civil society forum
A civil society forum on drug policy can be created, that is open and accessible
to all European civil society organisations working in the drugs field
which fulfil certain agreed criteria regarding transparency and representation.
The forum consists of one plenary session each year (to which all
participating organisations can be invited) and various specialist/sectoral sessions with a
number of smaller working group, that would deal with specific themes.
To these sessions representatives of the European Commission, Member
State Governments, the EMCDDA, EUROPOL and the European Parliament could
be invited as observers.
An Internet forum could be established to prepare these meetings and
follow up on them.
The aim of the civil society forum is to produce recommendations of both
the majority and minority of civil society representatives present, in
order to be included in the revision of the current EU Action Plan and
the design of forthcoming Action Plans.
Admission of participants
In order to identify the organisations that are invited to become a
member of the civil society forum, a survey can be elaborated.
All organisations who participated in the preparation phase of the
dialogue process as it has been carried out so far (Conference in
January 2006 and Responses on Green Paper of September 2006) will
receive such a survey, and will be asked to nominate other candidate
organisations who would receive a survey as well. On the basis of the
results of this survey a first selection can be made of organisations to
participate in the first civil society forum. Membership can be
rotating, so a large as possible number of organisations can participate
in this forum.
When selecting the composition of the forum, attention should be given
to the following criteria:
Priority should be given to representatives of European and national
networks, but if some weakness was identified during the preparatory
process concerning the coverage of some areas, the possibility for other
organisations that do not belong to any network and have expertise in
any concrete issue should be opened.
European networks should have member organisations in a significant
number of EU Member States.
Organisations should be able to prove that they have transparent rules
on membership and decision-making structures. In principle, membership
should be accessible to any citizen.
The admission of participants to the working groups could be established
according to various criteria, depending on the division of the working
These criteria can be based on the different sectors covered by drug
policies. They can also focus on specific issues that are cross-sectorial.
Working groups will produce recommendations in their specific area of
competence. These groups could be invited to produce annual reports, a
summary of which could be published as an annex to the annual report of the EMCDDA.
The content of the dialogue could consist of the political agenda, based
on the evaluation and preparation of current and new European Union
Action Plans and Strategies on Drugs, as well as on issues that become
relevant during the course of the dialogue. In order to promote
authentic discussion in stead of strategic debates, it is also important
to include the possibility of discussing open questions such as:
How to design models for drug policy that effectively reduces the
accessibility of drugs to minors?
How to design models for drug policy that effectively improve people’s
How to improve coordination between initiatives of citizens and
authorities around drugs in Europe?
How to improve and share knowledge about long term efficacy of measures
and programmes aimed at reducing or avoiding drug related problems?
The dialogue should aim to be an enrichening experience for all
participants. Thus it will automatically have a positive impact on the
process concerning drug policy in Europe. The concrete result could be
formulated within regular recommendations towards European Institutions
with regards to the current implementation of drug policies. Ideally,
these recommendations would be shared by the largest possible number of
civil society organisations.
On behalf of ENCOD,
Christine Kluge, Germany
Marina Impallomeni, Italy
Virginia Montañes, Spain
Farid Ghehioueche, France
Jan van der Tas, Netherlands
Joep Oomen, Belgium
EUROPEAN COALITION FOR JUST AND EFFECTIVE DRUG POLICIES
Lange Lozanastraat 14 – 2018 Antwerpen – Belgium
Tel. + 32 (0)3 293 0886 – Mob. + 32 (0)495 122644
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / encod.org