Member of the European Parliament
Group of the Greens/EFA
Parlement Européen, Rue Wiertz
Tel. + 322.284.55.74 - Faxes. + 322.284.95.74
Strasbourg - Tel. + 33.3.881.75574 - Faxes. + 33.3.881.79774
Coordinator of the conference: Thierry Charlois
The European Parliament in Brussels
European drug policy:
For a strengthening of the institution/civil society partnership
- 1. Introduction
- 2. The institutional framework
- 2.1 The international framework
- 2.2 The legal framework of the European Union
- 2.3 The European institutions
- 3. The European civil society
- 3.1 Networks of professionals' organisations or of institutional services.
- 3.2 Operational or thematic NGOs' networks
- 3.3 Local authorities' networks
- 3.4 Other networks concerned
- 3.5 Conferences
- 4. The partnership between the institutions and the civil society
- 4.1 The various partnership levels
- 4.2 How push back the limits of the partnership?
- 4.3 Health priorities
- 4.4 In conclusion
This Internet guide aims to bring a minimum common knowledge level to all the participants to the conference, in order to allow better quality
of the exchanges. It also proposes some reflection tracks which can be approached at the time of the conference.
This document gives an overall outline of the subject as well as of the links towards the sites containing complete information.
It is divided into 3 parts developing the main principle of approach of the conference:
- a presentation of the legal framework and of the concerned institutions, from the international to the European level;
- an outline of the civil society and of the existing networks of organisations;
- reflection on the partnership and of the means tracks to be implemented for its reinforcement.
This guide is in progress and any suggestion is welcome!!
2. The institutional framework
2.1 The international framework
The policy of the European Union concerning drugs comes under international conventions concluded at the level of the UN. The texts
of the conventions are available on the site of the Office on Drugs and Crime of the ONU at the following address:
The Office on Drugs and Crime is the department which manages the policy as regards drugs within the UN and more precisely, within this
department, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND):
The official report of the "Vienna conference 2003", which was in fact the 46th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, is available at
The CND has criticized the drug policies of some European member states : too much tolerant. Moreover, European negotiators consider that the NGOs anti-prohibitionnistes's
action at the time of this conference, beacuse it was not balanced by a strong moderate current of the civil society, contracted the American current of "war to
drugs" and prevented a positive outcome to the negotiations hoped for by the European states.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs cooperates officially with the NGOs and the civil society. For more information:
The International Narcotics Control Board is a structure, independent of the states and of the UN, which checks the implementation of
the international conventions on drugs:
The World Health Organisation also has an action developed by the department of alcohol and of drugs:
2.2 The legal framework of the European Union
First of all, the European drug policy is based on two different legal grounds: partially communautarised policy in matter of health and
intergovernmental cooperation in matter of security. Basically, the European drug policy is an addition of national policies that Member States try to harmonise.
The general legal framework of the European Union as regards drugs is presented on the Scadplus site to the following address:
The European drug policy is based currently on the Action plan to combat drugs (2000-2004). It is the non binding framework that Member
States committed themselves to respecting in order to harmonise their policy:
A mid-term evaluation of the Action plan is currently under development. The procedure connected with this evaluation is accessible on the site
of the European Parliament:
One can read the report presented by the Parliamentary Committee of the environment, public health and consumer policy while clicking on the reference EP A5-0021/2003.
In addition, the Proposal for a Council recommandation on the prevention and reduction of risks associated with drug dependence, proposed by the Commission
and adopted by the Council, which forms the basis for the procedure and addresses itself to the Member States, is accessible while clicking on COM(2002)0201.
Member States (the Council) and the European Parliament decided that certain aspects of the drug policy has to be communautarised (health aspect)
and therefore incorporated them into the Programme of Community action in the field of public health 2003/2008. That means that the European Commission
emits regularly calls for tenders (Programme of Community action for the prevention of drug dependence): projects emanating from the civil society can thus be granted.
Programme available on the site of the Commission/ Directorate-General for Health and Consumer protection at the following address:
However it must be recognised that this competence of the Union is very reduced, be only in terms of financial resources.
The European drug policy is in fact the most tolerant one in the world in view of the strict context defined by the international conventions. The
concept of harm reduction is officially recognised and it is by using pragmatic arguments derived from this concept that the Member States of the Union try to
make the international legal framework more tolerant.
2.3 The European institutions
- the European Commission (institution which proposes and carries out the Community policies of the Union) intervenes in the
field of drugs mainly at two levels: that of Health and that of Justice and Home Affairs. The Directorate-General for Justice and Home Affairs ensures
the coordination of all the Directorates-General concerned with the field.
- The Directorate-General for Health and Consumer protection (DG SANCO) implements the Community action Programme on public health, including
a prevention section on drug-addiction. Within this framework, it subsidises projects of the civil society.
The site of DG SANCO: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/health/index_en.htm
The lists of the projects subsidised by the Commission are accessible to the following address:
- The Directorate-General for Justice and HomeAffairs (DG JAI) takes part in the coordination of the strategy of the Member States in the fight
against the traffic. For more information, see the site of DG jai:
The DG JAI makes currently a study on the national strategies and coordination mechanisms which should come out little before the conference.
For more information:
- The European Commission has a very transparent and strictly defined policy of its relations with the civil society. The framework of this partnership is
presented on a specific page of its site:
Currently, organisations of the civil society complain of the Commission's inclination to favour, in the frame of the calls for tenders,
the most expensive projects (fewer projects to be managed for the same budget) and the organisations with which it has already worked (more safety).
- the European Parliament (A advisory body which shares the decision in certain fields with the Council) also approaches the phenomenon of
the drugs consumption by means of health and that of the traffic:
- Site of the Committee on the Environment, public health and consumer policy (ENVI):
- Site of the Commission on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home affairs (LIBE):
- The Parliamentary Committees, within the framework of the hearings that they organise, take account of the civil society's point of view:
- the European Council (the Council of Ministers of the Member States) is the principal decisional body (legislative power) of the Union. Concerning
drugs, the Council rests on the work of the horizontal Group Drugs (GHD) which involves delegations of the Member States (generally a representative of the
Ministry of Health and a representative of the Home Office) and of the Commission, of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug-addiction, of
Europol and of the European Agency for the evaluation of Medicinal Products. Given the intergovernmental level of the Council, it is within each Member State
that the civil society can here be heard. The site of the Council: http://ue.eu.int/
For example, here is a draft recommendation emitted by the GHD concerning the drug addicts' treatment in prison:
- the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug-addiction (EMCDDA) is an agency of the Union the mission of which is to bring to the citizens,
to the professionals and to the European politicians the information necessary to carry out a suitable action in matter of drugs. Their site:
http://www.emcdda.eu.int. It functions with the support of a national focal points network called REITOX
(cf. http://www.emcdda.eu.int/partners/reitox.shtml). The EMCDDA emits calls for tenders to which the organisations of the civil society can answer
(cf. http://www.emcdda.eu.int/about/work_with.shtml). It develops specific work on the applicant countries:
http://candidates.emcdda.eu.int/. They publish "focus" on specific topics:
- Europol also is an agency of the Union which aims to improve intergovernmental cooperation concerning the fight against terrorism, the drug trafficking
and the organised crime. For more information: http://www.europol.eu.int.
- the European Economic and Social Committee is an advisory institution of the Union, made up of representatives of the European civil
societe (mainly of the economic sector). The section on Employment, social Affairs and citizenship follow the projects connected with drugs. The
site of the Economic and Social Committee: http://www.ces.eu.int
- the Committee of the Regions also is an advisory body which represents the voice of the regions. The Commission for economic and social policy is
qualified to deliver its opinion on the policies as regards drugs concerning the health aspect. The site of the Committee of the Regions:
These two committees take part in the joint decision procedures. They therefore took part in the development of the Community prevention Programme
of drug-addiction as well as in the evaluation of the action Plan 2000-2004.
- the Council of Europe is an institution independent of the European Union (it gathers 45 states). Within the Council of Europe, the Pompidou
Group provides a forum for European ministers, officials, specialists and other professionals to co-operate and exchange information related to drug misuse
and drug trafficking. The site of the pompidou Group:
It must be admitted that the European institutional framework is relatively complex and consequently, only the "skilled" structures of this system
succeed in being heard by the institutions and in cooperating with them. For the moment, the "European civil society" remains the fact of an elite.
3. The European civil society
It is of course impossible to establish a complete panorama of all the actors acting in the field of drugs. The aim of this guide consists simply in
giving an outline of the various types of approaches and of existing European networks.
One can distinguish four principal groups of those involved:
These four groups are not either exclusive, for example certain organisations of "field actors" have official position about
It must be recognised that the major diversity of the civil society acting in the field of drugs is expressed too often in the form of
divisions rather than of complementarities. Sometimes it is the institutional actors who intervene to encourage these complementarities.
Transversely, there are several types of networks acting at European level:
- the European networks of profesionnals' organisations (lobbying and exchange of information and know-how);
- the operational NGOs' networks (exchanges of information and know-how, joint projects);
- the local authorities' networks (exchanges of information and know-how).
Hereafter links towards examples of European networks acting in the field of drugs as well as of the organisations concerned in a way or
another by the subject and guests to take part in the conference:
3.1 Networks of professionals' organisations or of institutional services.
- FESAT - European Foundation of Drug Helplines
- ERIT: European federation of profesionnals' associations working on the drug misuse.
- ITACA: European Society of Professionnals Working with Drug Dependencies
- IREFREA - professional European network interested in the promotion and research of prevention of drug and other child and adolescent problems.
- Euro-Methwork is a forum for those who are active in the methadone field in the European Regions
3.2 Operational or thematic NGOs' networks
- Integration project: Integration of the NGOs of the applicant countries in European mobilisation against AIDS.
- EXCHANGE: Coalition of European NGOs fighting against AIDS.
- Basics Network: For Dance culture and Drug Awareness.
- European Addiction training Institute: to extend and exchange the expertise generated in all areas of treatment, care, prevention and research
through training and education across europe.
- RIPUDD: Network international Parentality - Use of Drugs
- Cranstoun Drug services - European Network of the services against drugs and the HIV/AIDS in prison.
- T3E - Drug-addiction-Europe-Exchange-Studies
- SASTIPEN: European Network for drug abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention in the rom community.
- Ac-company: European network for the target group of mobile drug users:
- ENCOD: European governmental organisations and citizens concerned with the impact of current international drug policies on the lives of the most affected
sectors in North and South.
3.3 Local authorities' networks
- European Cities on Drug Policy: European associations of cities and regions.
- European Forum for Urban Security: European associations of local elected members.
3.4 Other networks concerned
- European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) represents organisations working in support of health in Europe. EPHA aims to promote and protect the health
interests of all people living in europe and to strengthen the dialogue between the EU institutions, citizens and NGOs in support of healthy public policies.
- COFACE: Confederation of the family organisations of the European Union.
- European Citizen Action Service: to strengthen the role and numbers of European associations representing NGOs and the citizen.
- Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.
- International federation of the leagues of human rights
- Rand europ: is an independent think tank that serves the public interest by improving policymaking and finding public-private solutions to shared problems.
- CLAT: Latin harm reduction conference.
- IHRC: International Harm Reduction Conference
- Club Health conference shares research, policy and practice on health and nightlife.
4. The partnership between the institutions and the civil society
4.1 The various partnership levels
There are two principal partnership levels between civil society and European institutions:
- the definition of the policies: it is the level of the consultation of the interested parties which enables the institutions to initiate the
European policies, whether it is by the adoption of programmes or by the development of regulations.
- the carrying out of the policies: it is mainly, with regard to the NGOs, the implementation of the programmes subsidised by the Commission.
It should be noted that to obtain a balanced and effective partnership, there must be as prérequis a good networking of the civil society itself
in order to make it representative and relevant.
4.2 How push back the limits of the partnership ?
The two previous chapters have show a number of limits to the partnership between institutions and civil society. It could therefore be
interesting to reflect on the means which would make possible to push back these limits:
- As regards the complexity of the institutional framework and the fact that only the skilled organisations could reach the partnership, two means could be
implemented to answer this problem and thus allow democratisation of the partnership:
- the creation of a skilled organisations network of competences transfers which could aim to support the organisations most deprived in term of
financial ressources, of knowledge, of links, of training in their desire to reach the partnerships with institutions or other actors of the civil society.
- the creation of a permanent Forum, which would rest on an Internet site giving to the whole actors the possibility of sharing their information and of
discussing on specific topics (thematic forums). The Forum could promote subject meetings making it possible to study in greater detail the trade initiated
on the site and which can achieve the adoption of joint projects. This Forum could also take part in the evaluation and in the definition of the Action
plan to combat drugs 2000-2004 and of the Programme of Community action for prevention of the dependence. To finish, it could encourage a coherent and
constructive approach between the European institutions, the Member States and the civil society in the international negotiations taking place under the aegis of
- With regard to the diversity of the civil society which causes sometimes divisions rather than complementarities, also two means could be study:
- promotion within the European Union of the Ottawa Charter which presents a globalising approach of health and makes it possible to gather the actors
on a common ethical basis.
- the promotion of the actors' local networks which propose to their public complementary approaches and choice pallets.
- The permanent Forum could there also play a role of regulator and of constructive trade. In particular it would be interesting to study
interactions between the "health" and "justice" aspects: what impact the work of the ones has on that of the others?
- In order to work on necessary consistency between the "health" and the "security" acpects, targeted projects of know-how
sharing integrating participants of these two aspects could be developed:
- the training of the services of police force in the problems and responses connected with drug consumption.
- the management of the problems of vicinity induced by the shooting rooms.
- the adoption of local projects of "safer dance" including local authorities, services of police force, prevention and harm
reduction organisations, partygoers, club owners and securiyt staff.
4.3 Health priorities
The strengthening of the partnership between institutions and civil society and, in parallel, the development of the networks of those involved in
the civil society, could give to Europe a greater capacity to answer in an effective way the major health priorities such as the explosion of the HIV epidemic which
strikes currently the Eastern European countries.
4.4 In conclusion
In order to make the Conference of 17 September positive and meet the expectations of each one, it is advisable to work on what brings closer
the participants and will enable them to build together, than broaching the topics which divide and will bring unfruitful confrontations.