Alima Boumédiene-Thiery
Member of the European Parliament
Group of the Greens/EFA
Parlement Européen, Rue Wiertz
B-1047 Brussels
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



1. Introduction

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:

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 this address:
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

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.

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 prohibition.

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:

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.


3.5 Conferences

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:

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:


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.