Meeting of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs

Making the voices of civil society heard on European drug policy-making

Dianova International and 44 other NGOs have been selected to join the expert group of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSF) for the 2015-2017 period, following the call on February, 2015.

As highlighted in the Commission’s Green Paper of 26 June 2006, the involvement of civil society is one of the cornerstones of European drug policy. The CSF is a broad platform for a structured dialogue between the commission and the European Civil Society which supports policy formulation and implementation through practical counseling.

The CSF annual meeting was held in Brussels from 5 to 6 October 2015, with participation from Lucia Goberna, representative of Dianova International. The Civil Society Forum (CSF) is a formal platform of debate and exchange between civil society organizations and the European Commission in the field of drugs in Europe. It is formally constituted as an expert group of the European Commission. Membership to the CSF is periodically renewed and selected by the European Commission.

Dianova International together with other 44 organisations has been integrated in the expert group for the 2015-2017 period. It is worth noting, that about 90 organisations applied to be part of this group.

The annual CSF meeting took place last 5th and 6th October 2015 in Brussels and it counted with the attendance of one of Dianova International´s representatives. During the meeting, the group worked on the CSF priorities for the upcoming years, organised working groups, and met with representatives of Horizontal Working Party on Drugs of the Council of the European Union (HDG).

The main lines (that will be worked throughout the constitution of working groups) of the CSF for the next years are:

  •   Minimum quality standards of drug demand reduction
  •   Institutional relations with the EU and international structures
  •   Input in the EU drug strategy and action plan
  •   Civil society engagement in national drug policies

During the meeting a new core group of the CSF was established, which included the coordinators for the working groups. Dianova International will participate in the working groups of “Institutional relations with the EU and international structures“ and “Civil society engagement in national drug policies”.

Another topic that was largely discussed was to establish a list of CSF priorities for the UNGASS, the upcoming Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on drugs, in order to send these to the representatives that are in charge of defining EU´s positioning for this relevant occasion. Among others the following recommendations have been included:

  •   Ensure better involvement of affected populations, including people who use drugs, families and recovered users, in the design and implementation of policies and programmes that affect them.
  •   Promote improved access to health interventions for those who need them, including access to evidence-based prevention, drug dependence treatment, harm reduction services, and treatment for drug-related health harms (such as HIV, hepatitis, etc.). Services available should better address co-morbidities.
  •   Adopt and implement drug policies and programmes that are implemented in a non-discriminatory way and are responsive to the needs of women and girls, ethnic minorities, indigenous groups and children.

To conclude the meeting, the CSF met with representatives of HDG. The Presidency of the Council of the European Union hold actually by Luxembourg presented the priorities and main areas of work for its mandate, while CSF presented its priorities for UNGASS. Finally a set of collaboration areas between CSF and HDG were defined.

A Participatory Process

In the drug field as in any other, the consultation process involving civil society organizations and other interested parties not belonging to the European Commission, is deemed essential in the policy-making process. Civil society organizations play a key role in giving voice to the concerns of citizens, coping with the realities of society, and translating such concerns into the Union’s policy orientations.