On 3 September 2009, ENCOD Steering Committee members Fredrick Polak, Marisa Felicissimo, Pedro Quesada and Jorge Roque had a meeting with Mr Timo Jetsu and two other Commission officials at the Drugs Coordination Unit (DCU) of the European Commission in Brussels.
The meeting was requested by ENCOD to receive explanation on the current status of the European Action on Drugs and the Civil Society Forum on Drug Policy.
Read also Encods conclusions of this meeting.
After proper introductions, our interlocutors started by explaining the future of the CSF and announcing that for the next year, two meetings are planned. The first one will take place in January with the same organizations that applied for the previous meeting. In mid 2010 there will be another call for applications to the CSF. Old and new organizations can apply and the same number will be selected to the second meeting of 2010.
When we asked them whether the EAD is receiving (part of) the money that was allocated for the CSF, as Mr. Jetsu had written to us three months earlier, the DCU officials denied this to be the case. According to them, the EAD is a separate and independent entity. It was planned at the time of writing the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2009-2012, following a proposal from the Commission (Commissioner for Justice Jacques Barrot). Opinions and ideas from NGOs taken from the CSF meeting in March 2009 were taken into account “as much as possible”. They said they could not take all suggestions raised at the CSF into account because some were controversial, even among NGOs.
In response to our question why a discussion on drug policy/regulation is impossible to have within the framework of either the EAD or the CSF, the Commission’s representatives said that they have limited mandate to act on this field. The formal mandate of the Commission is over the control of precursors and money laundering. Member states have autonomy to decide which drug policies they will adopt. The EU applies a “European Model” based on a balanced approach of law enforcement, public health and harm reduction, already in practice in many EU member states and already proved to be effective. For other practices such as decriminalization and regulated markets there is insufficient evidence yet to support that they are effective. “Global control system is outside our hands”.
In response to our question on what the Commission will do with the results of the EC-evaluation of the 10 year UN-strategy (the Reuter/Trautmann report), we were told that “this report should not be called an evaluation, but a scientific report. One of the conclusions of the report was that it’s not possible to make an evaluation because of the lack of available data.” He mentioned that it’s important to collect more data from law enforcement activities. The EC is planning to make a follow-up study.
We pointed out the experience of the Netherlands and Portugal and the studies showing that drug use did not increase after decriminalisation of use, and asked “What more evidence do you need?” We did not get a straight answer to this question, the talk was deviated to the coffee shops issue now in the EU court. It was suggested that this can be one way into the EU system: something brought up by a state member which demands a European answer.
Questioned again about the CSF, how it will be planned and if it will be in the same format, the Commission’s representatives said that in the last CSF meeting 6 people volunteered to help planning, so those people will be asked to come first and help putting up an agenda, but new themes can be added. We were told that in the first CSF meeting the themes had to be carefully selected, because member states were watching this initiative closely, they did not want the EU to get involved with civil society in a discussion on policy. They made it clear that legalization is a difficult theme to put in.
Questioned on the purpose of the CSF, what the EU institutions do with CSF suggestions, they said that what is discussed in the CSF is taken into consideration while writing the EU Action Plan, but what will finally be in the Action Plan has to be agreed by all member states.
We sent a draft of this report to the DCU on 22 Sep. 2009.
We received a commentary on 28 Sep. 2009 and after some to-and-from with the DCU, this corrected version was written on 22 Oct. 2009.
One of the changes is the addition of a disclaimer, on the request of the DCU: “The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not represent an official view of the European Commission.”
Read also Encods conclusions of this meeting.