On 13 & 14 April 2011, the 5th session of the Civil Society Forum on Drug Policy in the EU was held in Brussels. Frederick Polak and Bruno Valkeneers participated on behalf of Encod.
Officially, the CSF has started up a process to provide recommendations from Civil Society towards the new European drug strategy, e.g. through position papers.
The European Commission will look into ways of communicating these recommendations to stakeholders like the European Parliament and the Council. This means, that there is no certainty whether and in what form the submissions from the CSF members will be incorporated in the final EC paper.
The CSF meeting of 12-13 April 2011 started and ended with plenary session. In between three working groups continued to work on their position papers, that were started up in the preceding meeting of the CSF.
My group worked on a proposal to start a debate on Alternative Systems of Drug Control. Later the term ‘New Drug Policies’ was chosen (because some of us preferred that term over ‘alternative’).
The two other working groups focused on addiction care and prevention. The group organized by Anders Ulstein (Europe against drugs EURAD) took the name “integrative care”. It was meant to be reserved for prohibitionists only, but Elliot Albers (INPUD) simply went in to attend. This lead to a long verbal struggle, because Anders did not want him in. The other people were divided. Finally, Anders gave in and Amador Calafat took over the chair.
In the plenaries, we got support for the workshop on alternative policies from Pedro Quesada, Bruno Valckeneers (Liaison antiprohibitionniste), Eliot Albers, Edoardo Polidori (ITACA), Valentin Simionov (RHRN Romanian Harm Reduction Network) and a few other participants. Mike Trace, who was present for the first time for IDPC, supported us on a number of important moments, but he wants to produce a text that will be acceptable to a larger group.
Because of the sometimes unpleasant exchanges between Eliot and Anders, I got the impression that the “drugfree people” are in a defensive position and feel threatened by us.
At the end of the CSF there was agreement that the three working groups would continue writing their paper via email and during meetings in June and September, and that the final text or texts must be produced before October 1.
Later, there were many emails on whether it would make sense to have two meetings of the CSF in 2011. Many participant NGO’s said they did not need two meetings in Brussels to be able to form their opinion and to participate in the groups for the production of a text. It was decided that one CSF meeting should be enough. The date for the meeting is still not determined, whereas the planning was to be between mid Sep. and mid Oct.
27 July 2011