The Civil Society Forum on Drugs, an expert group of the European Commission, is currently accepting applications from eligible European civil society organisations for a case study project about positive and challenging examples in the field of drug policy.
This call is issued by the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD). The CSFD is an expert group to the European Commission. Its membership comprises 45 civil society organisations (CSOs) coming from across Europe and representing a variety of fields of drug policy, and a variety of stances within those fields. Its purpose is to provide a broad platform for a structured dialogue between the Commission and the European civil society which supports drug policy formulation and implementation through practical advice. The momentum for the CSFD’s formation can be traced back to the Green Paper on the Role of Civil Society in Drugs Policy in the European Union.
As part of its work in 2018 and 2019, the CSFD is seeking to stimulate implementation of the EU Action Plan on Drugs at national level, and with particular reference to the work of CSOs. The Action Plan has been adopted by all EU Member States and is a great achievement both for its progressive content and for the meaningful involvement of civil society in its preparation. To enhance understanding of, and focus on, the EU Action Plan at national level, the CSFD will work to identify case studies of CSO involvement in drug policy at a national level. The case studies will highlight both examples of good practice and examples of challenges in CSO engagement.
CSOs play a vital role in the implementation of drug policies. An involved civil society can bring new information to decision-makers in a variety of ways, including through research, experience working in close contact with particular populations and through bringing diverse opinions and ideas (1). The Pompidou Group (2016) has noted that CSOs bring “knowledge and independent expertise to the process of decision making and policy making” (2). This can add to policy-makers’ understanding of an
‘on the ground’ environment which is often in flux. Greer et al (2017) note that civil society delivers things that state, market and family cannot deliver (3), and working to increase communication between these areas will allow policy makers to benefit from CSO experience, allowing policy to be informed by those who are most familiar with the daily realities of working under existing policy structures. Additionally, research from other policy arenas indicates that good civil society involvement can create a better acceptance of policies – when civil society is involved, popular legitimacy increases (4). The process can be perceived as more transparent and accountable – important features of good governance. As the Pompidou Group (2016) has noted, civil society involvement creates added value to the policy and planning process itself, ‘enhancing the legitimacy, quality, and understanding and longer term applicability of the policy initiative’ (5.) Thus, a structured and formal engagement of civil society can better equip states to plan, implement and measure policy initiatives, thus directly contributing to national and EU drugs strategy objectives.
Nonetheless, in the CSFD’s experience, the degree of civil society involvement in the formation and implementation of drug policies at national level can often be limited. There are likely a variety of reasons for this, including a lack of awareness, knowledge and experience among both policy makers and CSOs as to the value civil society involvement can bring to policy processes. The CSFD is committed to working towards improving this situation, and this call forms part of that work.
What is the call about?
This call is aimed at civil society organisations (6) operating in the area of drugs and drug policy across Europe (7). We are looking to identify eight case studies in total – four each in two categories. The two categories are:
1. Case studies of positive CSO engagement in policy processes at national level. Case studies in this area will be will be described and shared as good practice examples.
2. Case studies of challenges in implementing the EU Action Plan on Drugs at the national level. Case studies in this area will be described and the relevant CSOs supported to develop and implement advocacy strategies, which will serve as example and can support similar activities in other countries.
For both categories, applicant CSOs should be:
– be legal entities that are capable of drawing down funds from state and EU sources
– be incorporated in a European (EU member state, accession, candidate or potential candidate) country
Further specific criteria for each category are set out below.
CATEGORY 1 – Good Practice Examples
To showcase good practice examples of CSO engagement in drug policy at national level.
To produce a case study report which is c. 3000 words in length, written in English and has been prepared according to an agreed template
Specific criteria for positive Case Studies
– The CS action/advocacy activity has already been carried out.
– The CS action is linked to specific topics of the EU Action Plan on Drugs.
– The CS action can serve as good practice example and inspiration for others/can have a leverage effect
– The CS action had a positive result. Certain success factors can be identified and shared.
A stipend of €800 per case study is available
CATEGORY 2– Challenges for CSO engagement
To identify and address specific challenges in CSO engagement in drug policy at the national level
– To set out a problem analysis and short action plan to address the issue
– To implement the action plan
– To organize a policy dialogue meeting with key stakeholders
– To provide a final report which is c. 5,000 words in length written in English and has been prepared according to an agreed template
Specific criteria for national civil society actions
– The CS action/advocacy activity has not yet been carried out.
– The CS action is linked to specific topics of the EU Action Plan on Drugs.
– The CS action can serve as good practice example and inspiration for others/can have a leverage effect.
Civil society actions include
– Problem analysis
– Development of the action/strategy
– Implementation of the action/strategy
– Evaluation and reporting
– The implementation phase includes the organisation of a Policy Dialogue Meeting.
– Participating CSOs will get ongoing support in the development and implementation of their strategy.
A stipend of €2500 per case study is available, to include organisation of the dialogue meeting
This call is put forward under the CSFD project which is funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme — Drugs Policy Initiatives
Downloadable application forms (with deadline and contact information):
1 See, for example, Greer, S., Wismar, M. and Kosinska, M. (2017). What is civil society and what can it do for health? In: S. Greer, M. Wismar, G. Pastorino and M. Kosinska, ed., Civil Society and health – contributions and potential. [online] World Health Organisation, pp.15-16. Available at:
http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/349526/Civil-society-web-back-cover-updated.pdf?ua=1 [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].
2 Ibid., p.1
3 Greer, Wismar and Kosinska (2017), p. 14
4 See, for example, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257408083_Effects_of_civil_society_involvement_on_popular_legitimacy_of_global_environmental_governance
5 Op. cit., p.2
6 For the purposes of this call, ‘civil society’ is defined using the definition suggested by the Council’s Horizontal Drugs Group in its thematic debate on the subject in September 2005 was “ the associational life operating in the space between the state and market, including individual participation, and the activities of non-governmental, voluntary and community organisations ”. The call is aimed at civil society organisations and thus excludes individuals. Applicants should be non-governmental, voluntary and community organisations operating in the space between state and market and focused on drug policy.
7 ‘Europe’ in this context includes member states of the European Union, as well as candidate and potential candidate countries.