A TESTCASE FOR TRANSPARENCY CITIZENS' PLATFORM CALLS FOR OPEN DIALOGUE ON DRUGS 26 September 2006 The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, ENCOD, today presented its comments to the Green Paper issued by the European Commission in June this year, dealing with the role of civil society in the design of drug policy in the EU. According to ENCOD, the process of involving civil society in European drug policy can become a testcase for transparency in the European Union. " Drugs and drug problems are among the issues that concern EU citizens most. But authorities do everything to avoid an open debate on what kind of policies we need to face these problems. They do not wish to be challenged on their traditional way of thinking drugs ", says ENCOD, a coalition of 150 citizen associations from 24 European countries. EU governments started to work out the concept of a common drug policy in 1990. Several Strategies and Action Plans on Drugs have been adopted since. "But always far from the attention of citizens and even parliaments", says ENCOD. "The current Action Plan on Drugs, that was approved in June 2005, ignores completely the outcome of the evaluations of earlier strategies as well as the recommendations of the European Parliament that were pointing in the direction of a fundamental change in drug policies. EU Governments continue with policies that everybody knows do not work, " says ENCOD in its comments. In the Green Paper, the European Commission has presented several options for installing a dialogue with civil society on drugs. The initiative seems to be motivated by the current tendency inside the European Commission to increase the role of citizens in decision-making processes. However, according to ENCODs coordinator Joep Oomen, it remains the question if the Commission understands what dialogue with citizens is all about. "Involving civil society in a dialogue on drug policy can only be successful if it takes place in an open and transparent setting. This is not the case with the proposals in the Green paper on drug policy. Take for example the fact that the Commission reserves the right to select the people who are allowed to the dialogue. As a justification for this position, the Commission invokes the fear that the forum could become a platform for ideological debates. Apart from the fact that this is an easy excuse to ensure the control of the "dialogue" remains in Brussels, it also shows that the Commission still does not understand that in a sincere dialogue, debates are necessary. If all participants speak on the basis of evidence, these debates can easily be managed ." Therefore, the only way to ensure a transparent dialogue, says ENCOD, is to avoid the exlusion of any possible stakeholder in the process and to ensure that the organisations who are invited to the dialogue are accessible to any EU citizen. Of the 16 European civil society networks that exist today, only 2 are made up of associations that are open to all citizens. The others consist of organisations of professional health experts or researchers working in the field of prevention, treatment and information, the large majority of them subsidized by the state. For the Green Pepper see www.encod.org/GPENCOD.pdf For the Green paper see http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/com/2006/com2006_0316en01.pdf For more information, please contact ENCOD at EUROPEAN COALITION FOR JUST AND EFFECTIVE DRUG POLICIES (ENCOD) Lange Lozanastraat 14 2018 Antwerpen Belgium Tel. 00 32 (0)3 237 7436 (Joep Oomen) Mobile: + 33 6 148 156 79 (Farid Ghehioueche) Fax. 00 32 (0)3 237 0225 E-mail:[email protected] Website: www.encod.org A PLACE TO OVERGROW CANNABIS PROHIBITION: http://www.cannabis-clubs.eu
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