The 6th Civil Society Forum on Drugs gathered in Brussels, Belgium, from 10th to 12th October 2011. The Forum is a platform for informal exchanges of views and information between the Commission and civil society organisations.

The main objective of this meeting was to put together a set of recommendations to feed into the debates that will be taking place in the coming months among European Union Member States around the new EU Drug Strategy.

The discussions were structured around three draft papers, “General principles and civil society involvement”, “An integrated approach to EU drug policy” and “Proposal of a model for an objective debate about current drug policies”. The first two documents offered a series of recommendations related to drug policy, whereas the last one called for a structured and objective debate on drug policy to review current drug strategies. These papers were first discussed in small working groups and were then presented and discussed in the entire Forum. The challenge was to propose a unified and balanced position between an approach based on prevention and abstinence, and one based on harm reduction.

At the end of the meeting, the Forum had agreed on a set of recommendations and a drafting committee was established to compile a new report on the basis of what was agreed upon by the participants. The report will then be submitted to the Civil Society Forum for comments and suggestions.

Another highlight of the meeting was the election of a Core Group, which is now composed of six individuals: Eliot Albert from the International Network of People Who Use Drugs, Amador Calafat from the European Institute of Studies on Prevention, Jeffrey Lee from the Mentor Foundation, Matej Košir from the Institute for Research and Development ‘Utrip’, Frederik Polak from the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies and Eberhard Schatz from De Regenboog Groep and the Correlation Network.

Finally, a representative from the European Commission announced that the Civil Society Forum on Drugs would now have the status of a European Commission Expert Group. These expert groups are consultative entities that provide advice and expertise to the Commission and its services. Although this will not change the functioning of the Forum, it formalises the holding of the Forum’s meetings as a key forum for discussion and sharing of information among experts in the drugs field.

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