EU – Western Balkans Expert Meeting on Drugs

The EU-Western Balkans Expert Meeting on Drugs was held on 25 May 2023 in Brussels, within the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU. The aim of the meeting was to exchange information on the state of drug policies in the Western Balkans, discuss current trends and contemporary challenges in this area, as well as areas that need and can be improved when it comes to cooperation between EU and Western Balkan institutions in this field.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the state authorities responsible for the creation, monitoring and implementation of drug policies in the Western Balkans, as well as representatives of EU member states, and representatives of the Council of the EU, the European Commission, the EMCDDA and EUROPOL.

The representative of the delegation of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Jože Hren, in his presentation referred to the importance of civil society organizations and civil sector initiatives in the area of drug policy creation in the Western Balkans region. In his presentation, Mr. Hren highlighted the work of DPNSEE with special reference to the Regional round table: Community-led consultati ve process on the importance of human rights and evidence-based national drug strategies in HIV response.

The Civil Society Forum on Drugs of the European Union (CSFD), an expert group at the European Commission consisting of 45 civil society organizations from all over Europe, representing a variety of fields of drug policy, and a variety of stances within those fields, prepared the document with information, views and recommendations of civil society. Several civil society organizations from the region participated in its preparation. DPNSEE, as a CSFD member organization, coordinated the collection of their contributions.

CSFD – UNODC cooperation

DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević, member of the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs Core Group, joined the meeting between the CSFD Working Group 2 and UNODC Brussels Liaison Office. The meeting was scheduled to discuss cooperation on the issues of interest discussed by the European Union related to drugs.

Milutin presented the priorities and work of the Working Group 4 he is chairing. He also pointed the need to advocate for more balanced approach to accession processes for the EU candidate countries, which is currently almost exclusive addressing splly reduction measures.

The two sides agreed in preparing a joint advocacy event in the occassion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 26 June.

The right to sit at the table

The Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) is an expert group to the European Commission. Its membership comprises 45 civil society organisations coming from across Europe and representing a variety of fields of drug policy, and a variety of stances within those fields.

The Rights Reporter Foundation produced a new video on why is it important to involve civil society in drug policy decision making, featuring the members of the EU’s Civil Society Forum on Drugs by interviewing its members about the valuable contribution civil society is doing in the field of drug policies in Europe. The movie was produced with the support of the EC JUST Drug Policy Grant.


CND side events organised by CSFD members

Member organisations of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) have prepared an impressive list of 24 side events for the UN Committee on Drugs and Narcotics (CND) that will take place the next week. The list of the side events is available following this link>>>.

One of the side events is organised by the CSFD: “Driving change from a shrinking space: Challenges to effective civil society participation in drug policy making“, which will take place on Wednesday 16 March, at 9am Vienna time. It is prepared by the Brussels Federation of Institutions for Drug Addicts with the support of Czechia, the Civil Society Forum on Drugs in the EU, the Council of Europe – Pompidou Group, the

European Union and the French NGO Platform on Drug Policy.

The event will take stock of the main challenges to effective civil society and community participation in both international and national-level drug policy making, with a particular focus on the shrinking space for civil society in certain contexts and on the impact of COVID19-related restrictions, and it will seek to provide concrete and actionable recommendations to decision-makers.

The 65th session of the CND will take place on 14-18 March 2022 via hybrid format with most participation taking place remotely. A final Programme for the session is available here>>>.


DPNSEE presented and the CSFD – HDG meeting

The new Civil Society Forum on Drugs 2021 – 2023 (CSFD) held meeting with the Horizontal Drug Group on 7 October 2021.

The Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) is a coordination body responsible for leading and managing the European Union Council’s work on drugs. This group, including national representatives of each EU country, meets on a monthly basis and prepares all relevant legislation and political documents adopted by the Council, such as the EU drugs strategies and action plans. In addition, the members of the group, under the leadership of the presidency, elaborate EU statements on drug-related aspects to be presented at international fora, such as the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). Currently, HDG is chaired by Slovenia, which holds EU Presidency in the second half of 2021.

Topic of the meeting included Implementation of the EU Drugs Strategy and Action Plan 2021-2025, role of the CSFD and Drug-related deaths and how to best prevent them.

On request of the Slovenian EU Presidency, the DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević presented the Network, including presentation of the situation with services for people who use drugs and drug strategies in the region.

First meeting of the new CSFD

The new Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) held its first meeting on 6 October2021. This was the first meeting of this important EU expert group where DPNSEE participated.

CSFD had an exchange with the representatives of DO Home and DG Sante. Discussion was mainly about lack of funding for full capacity of the Forum’s work.

CSFD agreed on the working group framework. As the results, four working groups are created

  • WG1: EU drug policy
  • WG2: International drug policy
  • WG3: National drug policy
  • WG4: Emerging drug policy issues and cross-cutting issues

Forum elected DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević as Chair of the Working group 4.


Preparation call for CSFD members

The current Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) Core Group (which terminated their mandate) organised a preparation call for all CSFD members in the new mandate on 15 September.

During the meeting, a number of topics were discussed:

  • The rejected CSFD Proposal and the impact of this on the work of the new CSFD
  • The agenda of the first CSFD meeting scheduled for 6 – 7 October 2021
  • The working group structure of the new CSFD
  • All potential questions coming from CSFD members

The Drug Policy Network Youth East Europe have been selected as a member of the European Commission Expert Group – Civil Society Forum on Drugs 2021-2023.

Research on EU Action Plan on Drugs

The EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) hosts the survey on Civil Society Perspectives on the implementation of the EU Action Plan on Drugs aiming to assess the state of implementation of the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2017-2020 in the EU Member States and beyond. It is addressed to civil society organisations working in the field of drug policy. The survey is addressed to representatives of civil society working in drug policy and it’s all specific areas.

Following the survey conducted at the beginning of the Action Plan 2017-2020 implementation (report can be accessed here>>>), the CSFD continues the monitoring of accessibility and quality of key demand reduction and harm reduction measures. This survey aims to collect the data allowing for the evaluation of the current situation and identify the potential changes taking place during the last three years. Its results, complemented with other elements of this research project, will be published on the CSFD website.

It is extremely important to collect enough data to be able to see the general picture of the European situation. The CSFD research projects, including this survey, are one of the very few bottom-up attempts to fill this gap in knowledge. Collecting information on the state of key demand and harm reduction services will allow to identify shortcomings and gaps in drug policy implementation in European countries. This, in turn, will serve as information for policy-makers and an advocacy tool for civil society actors at the European, national, and local levels.

The survey is available following this link>>>. Deadline is 12 June 2021.


Drug policy evaluation models presented

DPNSEE and Trimbos Institute hosted the Webinar “Drug Policy evaluations: opportunities to support inclusive, effective and evidence-based public policy” on Wednesday 10 February 2021. The aim of the Webinar was to provide information on drug policy evaluation as an effective instrument to guide, manage and support effective policies and services.

The Webinar included an introduction on drug policy evaluations and presentations on approach and methods and experiences from the evaluations performed in Croatia and Cyprus. Discussions in three separate discussion rooms followed on different segments of a policy/strategy cycle.

More than 90 representatives of governmental organisations, both on national and local level, academia, civil society organisations, coming from 31 countries, and international organisations participated.

The presentations from the Conference are ready to download:

  • Introduction to drug policy evaluation: Liesbeth Vandam, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction following this link>>>
  • Drug Policy evaluations: approach and methods: John-Peter Kools, Trimbos Institute following this link>>>
  • Drugs policy evaluation – experience and benefits: Sanja Mikulić, Head, Service for combating drugs abuse, Croatian Institute of Public Health, Croatia following this link>>>
  • Online opportunities: Daan van der Gouwe, Trimbos Institute following this link>>>
  • Experiences from online/hybrid evaluation: Chrysantos Georgiou, Cyprus following this link>>>.


Webinar on Drug Policy Evaluations

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe and Trimbos Institute invite you to participate in the webinar that will provide information on drug policy evaluation as an effective instrument to guide, manage and support effective policies and services. The Webinar is supported by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the European Civil Society Forum on Drugs.

The Webinar will present an insight on how various actors can contribute to a process of monitoring and evaluation of drug policies and can benefit from. It will:

  • showcase the benefits of drug policy evaluations
  • provide examples of recent regional drug policy (e.g. Croatia, Cyprus)
  • provide opportunities of online evaluations

The webinar may serve as a source of inspiration to support all those involved process of building better drug policies. It is especially suitable for regional drug policy makers, regional civil society groups, European and other interested participants.

The Plenary introductions will include:

  • Introduction on drug policy evaluations
  • Drug Policy evaluations: approach and methods
  • Benefits from independent evaluation
  • Online opportunities
  • Experiences from online/hybrid evaluation.

Three parallel breakout sessions will follow on What is needed to prepare a national drug policy?, How to monitor progress? and How to learn from and improve policies?

The Webinar will be held via Zoom at the following link on Wednesday 10 February 2021 starting at 14:00 CET. The Webinar will last for 120 minutes.

As the number of participants is limited, please register by Monday 8 February using the form attached here>>>.