By Lucía Goberna 

It is urgent that all actors involved in drug policy redouble their efforts to address the problem. This is the challenge highlighted by the European Drug Report 2019, which painted a rather discouraging picture of the situation in Europe: increase in drug trafficking and drug-related deaths, emergence of new drugs, more powerful, pure and diversified.

The CSFD, an expert group of the European Commission, held its last meeting in Brussels (Belgium) on 8 and 9 October. The Forum is composed of 45 member organizations from different European countries, which provide a number of prevention, treatment, risk reduction and rehabilitation services for people with substance use disorders. All these entities form a diversified group in terms of vision and experience.

At its last meeting, the CSFD presented a European financing project to obtain additional resources to carry out activities such as organizing seminars and training programmes, carrying out studies, etc. The financing project has been approved.

The agenda for last October’s meeting was also determined by the political situation. After the European Parliament elections in April, a new team of Commissioners has been formed to lead European legislative initiatives. The many changes involved in setting up a new European Parliament and a new team thus provide an opportunity to give the drug problem more importance on the European political agenda.

Several of the processes addressed by the CSFD are already underway, such as the evaluation process of the EU Drugs Strategy and Action Plan, in which civil society should have a role to play – or the changes in the financial frameworks for health and justice issues.

The working groups took the opportunity to plan their activities for the coming years. Dianova has joined the working group on relations with international institutions, which is organizing a seminar at the European Parliament on December 5 to draw Members’ attention to drug policies.

The meeting concluded with a joint session of CSFD members with representatives of the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs of the Council of the European Union, a group of national experts participating in the Brussels Policy Framework. Other stakeholders and experts from the European Commission also participated in the session, such as the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. During the session, civil society representatives asked questions, made specific proposals and requests and shared information on the work of the CSFD.