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Jan 8, 2008

Part 3. The EU Institutions, the EU legislation papers on Drugs, power balance between the EU Institutions, and some consequent conclusions

The text below is only a part of the whole document. Although each part is published under a separate link, all of them should be considered as different chapters of one and the same document.

Part 3. The EU Institutions, the EU legislation papers on Drugs, power balance between the EU Institutions, and some consequent conclusions

The EU Institutions in charge of the EU drugs policy:

The Council of the European Union: The Council of the EU is the main decision-making body at EU level. The ministers of the EU member-states form the Council of the EU.

The Horizontal Drugs Group (HDG) is one of the working groups of the Council of the European Union. The group is formed by representatives of the EU member states. The HDG facilitates and mediates the joint work of the EU Council / the Member States and the European Commission.

The European Commission (EC) is the main coordinating body of the EU.

The EU Institutions' authorities

The EC is independent from the EU member-states and works only at EU level.

The EC is authorized to make proposals for amendments, to give recommendations, to writes reports on the progress of the EU member-states, etc.

The documents developed by the EC are recommendatory.

The EC is the one that drafts first the EU Strategy on Drugs and the EU Action Plan on Drugs.

The EC delivers the draft to the Horizontal Drugs Group.

The HDG reviews the draft, developed by the EC, makes amendments and presents the new proposal to the Council of the European Union for voting.

After a review and possible new amendments, the EU Council adopts the proposal of the HDG.

The EU legislation papers on Drugs

The EU Strategy On Drugs (2005 - 20012) and the EU Action Plan On Drugs (2005 – 2008; 2009 – 2012) are the main legislation papers in the EU policies on Drugs..

The EU Strategy on Drugs

The EU Strategy on Drugs is based on the fundamental principles: respect for human rights and dignity, liberty, democracy, equality and solidarity. As a consequence of these principles the EU demands a health approach to the drugs problems and appoints priority areas: demand reduction, supply reduction and the cross-cutting international cooperation and research and information.

The Strategy only sets the framework, the overall objectives, and the priority areas. Its practical implementation is provided by the EU Action Plan.

The EU Action Plan on Drugs

The EU Action Plan on Drugs focuses on concrete objectives in the priority areas, outlines concrete tasks and actions, and appoints concrete assessment tools and operational indicators for measuring the progress of the EU member-states.

Both, the Strategy and the Action Plan, have a recommendatory character and aim mainly at providing added EU traditional values to the national Strategies on Drugs of the EU member-states. Within the frameworks of the Strategy and the Action Plan, the EU member-states are free to enact any laws, legislations, and policies on drugs, they find appropriate.

Still, the national authorities in the area of drugs are obliged to provide to the EC annual reports on their progress. In regards with the received data, the EC makes progress-evaluation reports, recommendations, proposals, draft the EU legislation papers, proposes amendments to the EU Action Plan, etc.

Power balance and conflicts between the EU Institutions

The HDG is a working group of the Council of the EU. The members of the HDG have much better political interests to protect their national governments' political freedom, than to support the EC.

The national governments are obliged to report at a regular base to the EC on their work and progress. The EC analyzes the national governments progress, makes progress-evaluation report for national level, and if weak points in the EU legislation papers are revealed, the EC recommends amendments to enable improvements at EU level. The EC proposals have to be approved by the HDG and adopted by the EU Council.

If the EC recommends better tools to monitor the work at national level, and the EC proposal is adopted, then the EC will gain a powerful weapon to control and influence the national governments. The HDG is not willing to reduce the political independence of their governments and will not accept such proposal. And if the HDG delivers the proposal to be voted by the EU Council, the EU member-states' ministers in the area will never empower the EC against their national governments by voting it.

The EC could partly counter-weigh to the national government by involving the Civil Society as a stake-holder in the EU drugs–policy debate.

The EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs should be considered as the first attempt of the EC to change the status-quo.

The EC will be less dependent on the official data reported by the national governments, if the experts' team of the Forum can provide the EC with an accurate data, monitored at national level.

Through adequate recommendations and accurate monitored data, the Forum members may enable the EC strengthen the control at national level and pursue the EU member-states improve their work.

Increased influence of the EC at local level also means increased influence of the EC at inner EU level. Despite the differences in their narrow personal interests, the close cooperation between the EC and the Civil Society may be mutual beneficial.


The EC needs accurate information to evaluate the work of the EU member-states' national governments. The EU member-states national governments provide the information to the EC for the EC progress-evaluation reports. The EU member-states will never provide willingly information that will result in a negative report. The monitored data of the Civil Society may be used by the EC as a control indicator of the accuracy of the official data.

There is a conflict of interest in EU drugs policy making process. The involvement of the Civil Society in the drugs-policy debate can partially restore the balance in the powers at EU level.

At the moment the EC is pressed by the Civil Society demands to amend the EU legislation papers in a way that will ensure practical improvements. Such changes will also be beneficial for the EC. These changes will substantially reduce the political independence of the national governments (that also form the EU legislation bodies). Only the cooperation of the Civil Society with the EC may bring such changes, if the both sides put coordinated pressure on the national governments on both national and EU level.


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