The Civil Society Forum on Drugs meets in Brussels to report on recent work carried out, define the direction for future work and maintain a dialogue with representatives of European institutions
The Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSF), a group of experts chaired by the European Commission which acts as a platform for dialogue on drugs policy between the Commission and civil society in Europe, met in Brussels on 7 and 8 November 2016.
The CSF comprises 45 civil society organisations representing different perspectives on drugs policy. Its mission is to support the formulation and implementation of drugs policy across Europe by making recommendations to European institutions. Dianova International has been a member of the forum since 2013 and was represented at this year’s meeting by Lucía Goberna.
This year’s meeting of the CSF provided an opportunity to report on the activities that the forum and its members are currently carrying out, plan the work for 2017 and raise specific issues directly with the representatives of the European institutions present.
The CSF divides its activity between four working groups which focus on:
- Institutional relations with the EU and international structures. This group has been heavily involved in activities and relations with European institutions associated with UNGASS, the drugs policy review that will take place in 2019 and the defence of humans rights, especially related to the dramatic situation currently unfolding in the Philippines. (Read open letter about extrajudicial killings in the Philippines)
- Mininum quality standards in drug demand reduction. The group is assisting with the effective implementation of minimum quality standards across Europe.
- Contibution to the EU Drugs Strategy and Action Plan. This working group has played an active role in evaluating the Action Plan on Drugs 2013-2016 and is currently engaged in formulating recommendations for inclusion in the new action plan for 2017-2020.
- Participation of civil society in national drugs policy. Over the course of the last year this group prepared and circulated a questionnaire to determine the degree to which the civil society organisations involved in drugs policy contribute to their respective national policy. A total of 119 organisations returned the questionnaire and the group has published a report with the preliminary findings, which it will now examine in greater detail.
Dianova is involved in the working groups on institutional relations with the EU and international structures and on the participation of civil society in national drugs policy.
With regard to relations with representatives of the European institutions, the CSF was attended by delegates from the European Commission, the section of the European Council responsible for drugs-related issues (the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs), and the European External Action Service. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction was also present at the meeting. These delegates explained the priorities for the near future of their respective institutions regarding drugs and human rights (in the particular case of the Philippines) and answered the questions raised at the CSF. The structure of the meeting was participatory and facilitated dialogue between all the parties present.
Dianova is extremely satisfied with the work of the CSF and grateful for the active and important role it plays. Equally, we value the support which the European Commission provides to civil society in this field.
We hope that civil society will continue next year to help shape and implement drugs policy and become a key player to be consulted in European institutional dynamics.
 Including EU member states, the countries of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and EU candidate or potential candidate countries (Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Bosnia, Kosovo).
The translations of this article were provided by the volunteers of Translators Without Borders. Many thanks for their selfless contribution!