On 8 November, the meeting of the core group of the EU Civil Society Forum on Drug Policy took place. Encod is a member of this group (together with Correlation, Irefrea, INPUD, EHRN and EURAD).
The first meeting of the core group took place on 15 June 2010.
This meeting was meant to prepare the next session of the Civil Society forum on Drug Policies in the EU, that will take place on 13 and 14 December.
Simone Merkinaite, EHRN
Eberhard Schatz, CORRELATION
Fredrick Polak, ENCOD
Amador Calafat, IREFREA
Elliot Ross Albert, INPUD
(Anders Ulstein of EURAD was not able to attend)
At lunch time, the meeting was joined by Dana Spinant, Head of the Anti-Drugs Unit of the European Commission, as well as Elizabeth Steenson and Andrej Kosnikowski , members of this unit.
Report by Joep Oomen (ENCOD), who did not participate in the meeting
1. The first part of the meeting was dedicated to a discussion among the members of the core group
What can be the impact of the Civil Society Forum to the next EU Drug Strategy?
The more consensus there will be behind the recommendations of the CSF, the higher the impact will be. However, it is not likely that we will ever be able to produce a consensus document. We should find a way to make a distinction between the organisations so it can become clear what will be the majority view and what the minority view. The discussions in the CSF should be based on something concrete: for instance the evaluation report of Reuter / Trautmann, and the fact that there has not been an official reaction to that report, neither from the Commission nor from the Member States. The next CSF should have workshops on different topics, and plenary sessions to discuss the conclusions of the workshop and the way the CSF should be organised in the future.
Also the criteria for organisations to be a part of the CSF should be discussed. There should be a discussion as to which degree organisations that are financed by public funding can be considered as civil society. Also there should be transparency about who the organisation represents and how its decision making structure is organised. In 2011 a large conference should be organised to involve all organisations that wish to participate in this process.
Correlation would like to set up a secretariat of the Civil Society Forum and wants to ask the Commission to fund this secretariat.
2. Meeting with European Commission
According to Dana Spinant, the new EU Drug Strategy will be a non-binding document, the Member States may consider for themselves if they follow it or not. The Commission will propose a first draft in December 2011, which will be discussed by Member States and Parliament in the spring of 2012, so they can endorse the final document which will be ready in June 2012.
This process will start in January 2011 with an evaluation of the former EU strategy. The first global conclusions of this evaluation will be ready in June 2011, the final report will be published in December 2011, along with the next strategy.
In January 2011, the Commission will install a web based public consultation in order to receive comments from the public.
Asked why the Commission did not give an official reaction to the Reuter Trautmann report, Spinant said that this was not the Commission’s task, but the Member States. She added that the Commission has only competences in 3 areas of drug policy: to complement Member States actions in Public Health, installation of framework decisions on drug trafficking, and coordination of EU position at the UN meetings in Vienna.
Asked how the CSF can contribute best to the new EU drug strategy, Spinant said that this contribution should be as uniform as possible, and aiming for “achievable and realistic goals”.
On the criteria for the CSF membership (which will be renewed in 2012, an application form process will be published on the Internet soon), Spinant said that they will continue to use the same criteria as last time, as they are established in the Green Paper. She said that there can be no transparency on the data of the organisations that are selected as this would be against the rules. On the financial side, she said it was not sure how much money there is available for the CSF process in 2011, there is still 100.000 euro available for 2010, 60.000 euro will be used for the CSF in december, and it remains to be seen if the rest can be carried over to 2011. But there is willingness to use this money for a secretariat, and for extra people to be invited to the CSF’s.
Spinant proposed the core group to propose an agenda for the next CSF.
3. Continued core group meeting without the Commission
The core group then continued to discuss the agenda of the next CSF in december. Proposed by Correlation, it was agreed to organise 2 plenaries (morning of first day, afternoon of second day) and 8 workshops (4 in the afternoon of first day, 4 in the morning of the second day). In the first plenary the issue of how to organise the impact of the CSF into the new drug strategy will be discussed. In the second the results of the workshops.
Although the responsability for organising the last session of the Civil Society Forum in its current form has passed to the members of the CSF, it is clear that the entire CSF process remains entirely dominated by the European Commission. The Commission can decide who is admitted inside, it does not have to make clear the motivation of this decision, and it decides about the financial side, which remains very unclear. The Commission can now also hire one of the NGOs (probably Correlation which is already entirely funded by the Commission) to be the ‘secretariat’ of the CSF, so it can remain in complete control of the process, which will very likely end in a “non-document” very similar to the ones that are produced by the Commission itself. And even if this document contains any interesting recommendation, finally the Commission can always ignore it by saying it is the responsability of the member states.
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