3 November 2008
Congress policy in observing local and regional elections
Véronique Moreira, France (R, NR)
Bureau of the Congress
The report describes the Congress experience in observing local and regional elections and its unique role specifically recognised in the new Statutory Resolution and Charter of the Congress. It presents the measures taken over the last few years to improve its local and regional elections observation capacity and deals with the co-operation with internal and external partners. This report recommends developing a real Congress election observation strategy.
R : Chamber of Regions / L : Chamber of Local Authorities
ILDG : Independent and Liberal Democrat Group of the Congress
EPP/CD : Group European People’s Party – Christian Democrats of the Congress
SOC : Socialist Group of the Congress
NR : Member not belonging to a Political Group of the Congress
1. Background 3
2. The Congress’s election observation strategy 4
2.1. Making a significant contribution to the establishment of institutional frameworks, in accordance
with the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which sets out the principles
underlying local democracy 4
2.2. Raising awareness of the importance of local and regional democracy 4
2.3. Strengthening its unique role in observing elections
by constantly reinforcing its partnerships 4
3. Congress co-operation with external partners taking part in the observation of elections 5
3.1. The participation of associations of local and regional authorities 5
3.2. Participation of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union 5
4. Conclusions 6
Appendix 1 – Article 2 of Statutory Resolution CM/Res(2007)6 7
Appendix 2 – List of Congress election observation missions from 1990 to July 2008 8
Appendix 3 – Resolution 233 (2007) Observation of elections – co-operation between the Congress
and national associations of local and/or regional authorities 9
Appendix 4 – Co-operation agreement between the Committee of the Regions and the Congress 12
Appendix 5 – Thematic and chronological list of texts adopted by
the Congress on election observation 16
1. The practice of observing elections in the Council of Europe began in the 1990s as part of the consideration of applications for membership from a number of new democracies following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Both the Congress1 and the Parliamentary Assembly then started sending observers to applicant countries.
2. The aim of the Congress in observing elections is to help member states to improve their electoral laws and procedures in the interests of voters. The reports arising from these missions, based on actual local circumstances, make it possible to keep track of the progress of measures to set up local democracy with reference to the situation prior to the observation and by applying standards that are adjusted to the social and cultural context of the country in which the observations are taking place.
3. Observation missions allow local elected representatives from different geographical areas, with varying political “cultures” to share their views and identify the essential ingredients for the development of local democracy and self-government, and to do this not in an abstract, conceptual manner but by comparing various real-life situations and experiences. This process of exchange and this integrated approach are an example of what the construction and reconciliation of a democratic Europe can achieve.
4. The Congress members make use of these reports and set great store by them because, as local elected representatives, they know that the construction of democracy begins at local level, because local authorities are closest to a country’s citizens and, through this close contact and the powers that they exercise, they can achieve greater public involvement in decision-making.
5. The Congress, which works to bring about strong local and regional democracy as one of the essential foundations for a Europe of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, has now been specifically charged with the task of monitoring local and regional democracy. The new Statutory Resolution and Charter of the Congress, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 2 May 2007, specifically mention the unique role played by the Congress in observing elections (Appendix 1).
6. The implementation of the new Statutory Resolution was, moreover, one of the priorities of 2008. When appointing its delegations, the Congress therefore ensured that representatives were selected with due regard for geographical balance, balance between local and regional authorities and between political groups, and parity between women and men. It also devised new tools, adopting resolutions and recommendations for each new election observation assignment.
7. Since 1990, the Congress has observed over 65 local and regional elections in requesting countries (Appendix 2) and over 500 observers and experts have been sent to more than 15 Council of Europe member states, as well as to Kosovo and Palestine. The Congress has also been invited to observe the municipal elections in Israel in autumn 2008.
8. This means that national authorities agree to be judged against European standards and to demonstrate the transparency and credibility of their electoral procedures.
Election observation consists of studying the way in which the election campaign and the polling are conducted and this helps to establish high-level co-operation with the representatives of parties and political groups and electoral commissions, not to mention the media and NGOs.
9. Over the last few years, the Congress has taken a number of measures to guarantee that appropriate action is taken in response to its election observation reports. In addition to these detailed reports, the Congress now adopts recommendations relating to the observation of elections, which are addressed to the national authorities, and resolutions, which are addressed to its internal bodies.
2. The Congress’s election observation strategy
10. As a guardian of local democracy, the Congress has been charged with observing local and regional elections since 1989. Over the years, it has established principles to improve its observation capacity which any election observation strategy must abide by:
2.1. Making a significant contribution to the establishment of institutional frameworks, in accordance with the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which sets out the principles underlying local democracy:
11. The observation of elections with a view to establishing post-electoral dialogue is part of the process of monitoring local and regional democracy. The aim is to improve the action taken in response to the recommendations adopted by the Congress following election observation missions and to facilitate their implementation, through synergy with the activities of the Institutional Committee, which plays an important role in ensuring that the recommendations are implemented. The new implementation procedure adopted by the Congress to improve the impact of its monitoring activities underlines the need to include electoral issues in the process.
12. Consolidation of the action taken as a result of observation missions is also reflected by closer co-operation with the Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies, in particular the Venice Commission, through the adoption of opinions on draft electoral laws and assistance in preparing draft legislation on elections.
13. The work of assessing the local context and observing events on the ground is a means of establishing, through dialogue, frameworks that are in keeping with the local situation and abide by the principles of local democracy. This is possible because elected representatives who carry out their collective tasks at the same level of competence and are faced with similar difficulties are fully aware of the realities of establishing democratic standards and of the progress that can be made and the difficulties that can be encountered, while always remaining strictly impartial.
2.2. Raising awareness of the importance of local and regional democracy:
14. The Congress ensures that attention is drawn to elections and that they are taken into account by all stakeholders and the media. It makes efforts to announce its observation missions and to disseminate reports so that all its members are aware of their importance.
15. Furthermore, elected representatives taking part in observation missions keep a close eye on matters relating to the visibility of electoral processes and the participation of citizens, while looking at all aspects of the local context. Low turnout may reflect a lack of interest in an election, which may in turn reflect the weakness of local self-government, and this makes it necessary to strengthen this link in the chain, so as to boost its importance.
16. Observation missions must therefore take account of information provided by local stakeholders as well as the Congress and its other internal partners, on issues such as the day-to-day circumstances of local life, the establishment of autonomous budgets and the implementation of powers assigned to local authorities, diversity of candidates, equal treatment of men and women candidates and public information.
17. It has also been possible to strengthen the monitoring of the electoral process at supranational and European level by involving relevant stakeholders such as the EU Committee of the Regions.
18. To establish a sustainable democratic system, it is therefore necessary to create conditions conducive to dialogue and legitimised representation.
2.3. Strengthening its unique role in observing elections by constantly reinforcing its partnerships:
19. Co-operation has been set up with internal partners such as the Parliamentary Assembly and other Council of Europe bodies such as the Venice Commission, with which constructive dialogue has been established, in particular through the Council for Democratic Elections.
20. Co-operation has also been stepped up with external partners such as the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the EU Committee of the Regions.
3. Congress co-operation with external partners taking part in the observation of elections
3.1. The participation of associations of local and regional authorities
21. In 2005, the Congress decided to give high priority to national associations by acknowledging the very important role they play in fostering local and regional democracy throughout the continent.
22. Associations of local and regional authorities are both partners and a means of promoting local and regional democracy in Europe. They are therefore watchdogs of the state of democracy and it is their duty to monitor the action taken by national governments and to ensure that the principles set out in the European Charter of Local Self-Government are fully applied.
23. That is why, in 2006, the Congress decided to hold the 1st General Meeting of Associations of Local and Regional Authorities. In its conclusions, it proposed to step up its co-operation with national associations in observing elections. Consequently, in March 2007, the Standing Committee adopted a resolution on these associations’ participation in the election observation missions organised by the Congress (Appendix 3).
24. The Congress therefore established genuine interaction with these associations by inviting them to take part in its election observation missions. The first time a national association of local authorities took part in observing municipal and legislative elections was on 17 November and 8 December 2007 in Kosovo (Serbia).
3.2. Participation of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union
25. In the same way as it strengthened its co-operation with national associations, in its agreement with the Committee of the Regions regarding co-operation2 “in favour of local and regional democracy, decentralisation and self-government in Europe, and to guarantee national and European authorities’ respect for established local and regional responsibilities” (Appendix 4), the Congress invited the Committee of the Regions to join the Congress delegation on its election observation missions.
26. Consequently, for the first time, on 21 May 2006, the Congress delegation observing the referendum in Montenegro included members of the Committee of the Regions. Since then, members of the Committee of the Regions have regularly taken part in Congress observation missions.
27. At the invitation of the Chair of the Commission for External Relations of the Committee of the Regions, the Congress also attended training sessions on the monitoring of local and regional elections organised by the Committee of the Regions for its members in January 2007 and April 2008.
28. In continuing and intensifying the co-operation between the Congress and the Committee of the Regions, it has been decided to give more publicity to the participation of the delegation from the Committee of the Regions, in particular at the press conferences.
29. The Committee of the Regions, for its part, has promised to consider how this report could be submitted to its most relevant body.
30. Reciprocity will be guaranteed when the report is presented to the Congress and the Committee of the Regions, as both the rapporteur of the Congress and a representative of the Committee of the Regions will be invited to each presentation of the report.
31. Election observation missions are opportunities to breathe life into the European project, translating European construction in the area of democracy into something tangible through a process of exchange which enables elected representatives to take a more detached view of the electoral practices in their countries of origin. In other words, it is impossible for anyone to look at elections in their home town or country in the same way ever again when they have seen them elsewhere.
32. Observation missions provide scope to look more deeply into how democracy is constructed in the local authorities from which representatives come, to build on the experience of the elected representatives encountered on the spot, to bring together distant neighbours in rewarding and constructive dialogue and to enhance the feeling of belonging to the Congress, highlighting the useful role that all members can play by sharing their experience as elected representatives and contributing to exchanges.
Article 2 of the Statutory Resolution CM/Res(2007)6
1. The Congress, in addition to its consultative functions, furthermore undertakes activities the aims of which shall be:
a. to ensure the participation of local and regional authorities in the implementation of the ideal of European unity, as defined in Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, as well as their representation and active involvement in the Council of Europe's work;
b. to submit proposals to the Committee of Ministers in order to promote local and regional democracy;
c. to promote co-operation between local and regional authorities;
d. to maintain, within the sphere of its responsibilities, contact with international organisations as part of the general external relations policy of the Council of Europe;
e. to work in close co-operation, on the one hand with the national, democratic associations of local and regional authorities, and, on the other hand, with the European organisations representing local and regional authorities of the member states of the Council of Europe, and notably with the Committee of the Regions of the European Union.
2. The Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly shall consult the Congress on issues which are likely to affect the responsibilities and essential interests of the local and/or regional authorities which the Congress represents.
3. The Congress shall prepare on a regular basis country-by-country reports on the situation of local and regional democracy in all member states and in states which have applied to join the Council of Europe, and shall ensure, in particular, that the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government are implemented.
4. The Congress shall also prepare reports and recommendations following the observation of local and/or regional elections.
5. Recommendations and opinions of the Congress shall be sent as appropriate to the Parliamentary Assembly and/or the Committee of Ministers as well as to European and international organisations and institutions. Resolutions and other adopted texts which do not entail possible action by the Assembly and/or the Committee of Ministers shall be transmitted to them for their information.
List of observations of the elections carried out by the Congress from 1990 to July 2008
Member of CoE
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Russian Federation - Chechnya
Serbia and Montenegro
Non Members of CoE
Resolution 233 (2007) 1
The observation of elections – co-operation between the Congress and national associations of local and regional authorities
1. Local and regional authorities are assuming an ever greater institutional role at both national and international level and are now full stakeholders in the building of a Europe based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law;
2. The Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, set up as a result of a recommendation by the 1st Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe (Vienna, 9 October 1993), has played and continues to play a major part in the Organisation’s activities and the building of a Europe without dividing lines;
3. That is in fact why the Committee of Ministers adopted Statutory Resolution (2000) 1 reinforcing the statutory position of the Congress and accordingly revising its Charter;
4. Under the provisions of this statutory resolution, the aims of the Congress, which is the “organ representing local and regional authorities,”2 include ensuring the participation of local and regional authorities in implementing European unity, and working in close co-operation with national associations of local and/or regional authorities;
5. The Congress is convinced of the role and usefulness of these associations, which are the vehicles for developing local and regional democracy on our continent and even beyond, and which consequently share our task of strengthening democracy by promoting local and regional self-government;
6. It therefore organised the 1st General Meeting of Associations of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe Member Countries, held in Strasbourg (23-24 February 2006), which demonstrated the importance attached by the associations and the Congress to joint action and increased co-operation and produced a series of proposals to that effect;
7. The Congress particularly welcomes the interest shown by these associations in sharing in the observation of local and regional elections which it regularly carries out in some of its member countries;
8. It is convinced that opening up this activity to participation by elected representatives from the associations’ member authorities can firstly involve the associations more effectively in a European activity and secondly reinforce the Congress’ observation missions;
9. The Congress, aware of its institutional responsibility in the Council of Europe, must nevertheless take care to comply with certain criteria for the organisation of the missions themselves and the membership of the delegations;
10. With this in mind, the Bureau of the Congress has adopted the appended provisions, with which associations wishing to join the Congress in observing elections will have to comply;
11. Consequently, in view of the above, the Congress:
a. welcomes this opportunity to develop genuine synergy with the national associations of local and regional authorities of its member countries;
b. adopts the appended provisions and decides to append them to its rules of procedure;
c. invites the national associations of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe member countries to take part in election observation missions and take note of the appended provisions, on the basis of which the arrangements for missions and the membership of delegations will be decided.
Provisions concerning the participation of national associations of local and regional authorities in election observation missions organised by the Congress
Chapter I – Principles governing the participation of associations to election observation missions organised by the Congress
The participation of elected representatives who are members of associations or members of local and/or regional authorities which are themselves members of associations of local and/or regional authorities (hereinafter referred to as “the association”) in Congress election observation missions (hereinafter referred to as “the mission”) shall take place in the manner specified in the present provisions and in compliance with the mandate of the Congress in this field of action, in particular through Article 2, paragraph 3, of Statutory Resolution (2000) 1.
The Bureau of the Congress shall hold sole political responsibility for the mission, including the decision to observe the elections, contacts with relevant authorities with a view to the organisation of the mission, contacts with other national and international observer organisations, any information or declaration made public before, during and after the mission, institutional use of the mission’s findings as well as for monitoring the implementation of any recommendations made as a result of the mission.
Missions shall be organised under the aegis of the Congress, and the Congress shall be in sole charge of them:
i. only a Congress member taking part in the mission may act as head of the delegation;
ii. only a Congress member taking part in the mission may act as the rapporteur.
Chapter II – Modalities of participation of associations
Article 4 – Composition of the mission
Only members of the association or members of local and/or regional authorities which are themselves members of associations of local and/or regional authorities holding a local or regional electoral mandate in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter of the Congress, including those who are not members of the Congress (hereinafter referred to as “non-member representatives”), may be invited to take part in missions.
Article 5 – Selection of the members of the mission
The Bureau shall hold sole responsibility for the selection of member and non-member representatives. Candidatures shall be submitted to the Congress secretariat at the Bureau’s request.
The selection of members, including non-member representatives, shall be made having regard to geographical balance, balance between political groups and gender parity. The number of non-member representatives should not exceed the number of member representatives taking part in each mission.
Article 6 – Practical organisation of the mission
The Congress secretariat shall have sole responsibility for all material arrangements for the mission.
Article 7 – Length of the mission, deployment and working methods during the mission
Non-member representatives shall take part in the mission in the manner specified by the Congress secretariat for the particular mission as regards the length of the mission, the deployment strategy and working methods adopted during the mission.
Article 8 – Information sessions
The Congress shall hold regular information sessions addressed to observation mission participants, both member and non-member of the Congress.
Article 9 – Communication
The association may publicise its participation in the Congress mission in accordance with the terms of the present provisions and with the relevant arrangements agreed with the Congress secretariat. In so publicising its participation the association shall give prominence to the objectives of the Council of Europe, the Congress and the mission. All documents which the association produces in connection with its participation in the mission shall contain a reference to the Council of Europe and the Congress.
Chapter III – Financial arrangements
All clearly identifiable expenses (in particular travel and subsistence expenses) in connection with mission participation by non-member representatives shall be met by the association.
Financial participation by the association in meeting general expenditure relating to organisation of the mission (in particular interpretation and travel expenses inside the country receiving the mission) shall be agreed in each case between the Congress and the association by exchange of correspondence between the Chief Executive of the Congress and the secretary general/director of the association.
In addition to its share in the expenses referred to in Articles 10 and 11 above, the association may participate in meeting the costs of the mission by means of a voluntary contribution and subject to the terms of the present provisions.
Chapter IV – General provisions
The present provisions will enter into force once approved by the Bureau.
The present provisions may be modified by the Bureau at any time. Any request for modification shall be formulated in writing by at least four members of the Bureau, and be adopted by simple majority of its members.
1. Debated and adopted by the Standing Committee of the Congress on 28 March 2007 (see Document CG(13)46, draft resolution presented by H.U. Stöckling (Switzerland, R, ILDG), rapporteur).
2. Article 1 of Committee of Ministers Statutory Resolution (2000) 1.
Cooperation agreement between the Committee of the Regions and the Congress
Committee of the Regions
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
THE CONGRESS OF LOCAL AND REGIONAL AUTHORITIES OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS AND THE CONGRESS OF LOCAL AND REGIONAL AUTHORITIES OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE,
Having regard to article 303 of the Treaty establishing the European Community,
Having regard to the European Charter of Local Self-Government,
Having regard to article 2 point 1 of the Statutory Resolution 2000 (1) of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe relating to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (hereafter “the Congress”),
Having regard to the Protocol (30) on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe which reinforce the position of local and regional authorities and of the Committee of the Regions,
Having regard to the exchanges of letters of 16 June 1987 and 5 November 1996 between the Council of Europe and the European Commission and the following Joint declaration on cooperation and partnership between the Council of Europe and the European Commission, adopted in Strasbourg on 3 April 2001, and,
Having regard to the rule 189 of the rules of procedure of the European Parliament,
Having regard to the respective decisions of 8 March 1996 and 1 July 1996 of the Bureaux of the Committee of the Regions and the Congress to establish a Contact Group between the Committee of the Regions and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (hereafter "the Contact Group"),
Having regard to the letter of 11 May 2004 from the Chief Executive of the Congress to the Secretary General of the Committee of the Regions,
Having regard to the conclusions of the Contact Group meeting held on 13 July 2004 in Paris,
Having regard to the Joint Declaration3 adopted in Prague on 21 September 2004 by the Commission for Constitutional Affairs and European Governance of the Committee of the Regions and the Institutional Committee of the Congress,
Whereas the Congress and the Committee of the Regions share values and objectives in strengthening local and regional democracy in Europe,
Whereas the Congress and the Committee of the Regions have legal instruments at their disposal to monitor the principle of subsidiarity,
Whereas the Congress and the Committee complement each other without encroaching each others competences,
HAVE AGREED AS FOLLOWS:
1. The main objective of this cooperation agreement is to support reciprocally the efforts undertaken by both institutions in advancing local and regional democracy, devolution and self-governance in Europe and to guarantee the respect of established local and regional competences by national and European authorities. By combining their forces, the two institutions shall enhance the complementarity of their activities in the interest of regional and local authorities in Europe.
2. In all common activities due prominence is given to the joint character of these activities and to each partner's even visibility. In this respect, the Committee of the Regions and the Congress should envisage, where appropriate and in matters on which the two institutions co-operate closely and share the same position, to outline the Committee of the Regions’ or the Congress’ opinion in their respective texts to be adopted.
II Methods of cooperation
1. The Contact Group is the primary form of cooperation between the two institutions and it has the main responsibility of conducting relations between the two institutions. The Contact Group is composed of six members of each institution and meets at least twice a year. Other members of the Committee of the Regions and of the Congress can be associated with the Contact Group meetings as observers. The Presidents of the Congress and the Committee of the Regions have the right to participate actively in the Contact Group activities when they consider it necessary.
2. The presidency of the Contact Group rotates yearly between the two institutions. The Contact Group elects a chairman and a vice-chairman to ensure a representation of each institution. The chairman and the vice-chairman establish jointly the draft agenda for the meetings. The institution holding the presidency ensures the secretariat of the Contact Group.
III Common priorities and activities
1. On the basis of the established political priorities of the two institutions, the Contact Group identifies annually common priorities for cooperation and defines common activities. The activities will be framed in such a way that, within the common priorities agreed, specific activities can be added or adapted to meet new needs or take account of changes in circumstances.
2. The Contact Group cannot make binding decisions on behalf of the institutions it represents.
3. The Presidents, the chairpersons, rapporteurs and the secretariats of the commissions and committees exchange views and information on the basis of the annual priorities and the respective programmes of activities.
4. The secretariats of both institutions ensure the administrative support and follow-up of these exchanges and make sure that common activities are carried out in an appropriate way.
IV Subsidiarity monitoring
1. The Committee of the Regions and the Congress support each other's efforts to establish efficient and effective monitoring of the subsidiarity principle in the European Union and in the Council of Europe’s Member States.
2. In particular, they give primary importance to actions for bringing politics closer to the citizens, in favour of the respect of human rights and of a sustainable quality of life for the citizens.
V Financial provisions
The present agreement does not imply financial engagements other than the ones taken respectively by the two institutions according to their internal rules.
VI Evaluation of the cooperation and revision of the cooperation agreement
1. The Contact Group evaluates regularly the development of the cooperation between the two institutions and gives an evaluation report to their respective Bureaux every second year.
2. The present cooperation agreement can be revised by mutual agreement at the initiative of one of the two institutions.
Brussels, 13 April 2005
The President The President
of the Committee of the Regions of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
of the Council of Europe
Peter STRAUB Giovanni DI STASI
Thematic and chronological list of texts adopted by the Congress on the observation of elections
Recommendation 192 (2006) on local and regional elections in Ukraine observed on 26th
Recommendation 205 (2006) on the local elections in Georgia (observed on 5 October 2006)
Recommendation 206 (2006) on the rerun of local by-elections in Azerbaijan (observed on
6 October 2006)
Recommendation 213 (2007) on the election of the Bashkan (Governer) of Gagauzia (Moldova) (observed on 3 and 17 December 2006)
Recommendation 214 (2007) on the local elections in Albania (observed on 18 February 2006)
Recommendation 227 (2007) on local elections in the Republic of Moldova
(observed on 3 and 17 June 2007)
Recommendation 236 (2008) Kosovo Municipal and Assembly elections (Serbia)
Recommendation 237 (2008) presidential elections in the Republic of Srpska (Bosnia and
Recommendation 239 (2008) elections to the People’s Assembly in Gagauzia (Republic of Moldova) (observed on 16 and 30 March 2008)
Resolution 216 (2006) on local and regional elections in Ukraine observed on 26th
Resolution 224 (2006) on the local elections in Georgia (observed on 5 October 2006)
Resolution 225 (2006) on the rerun of local by-elections in Azerbaijan
(observed on 6 October 2006)
Resolution 232 (2007) on the election of the Bashkan (Governer) of Gagauzia (Moldova) (observed on 3 and 17 December 2006)
Resolution 233 (2007) on the observation of elections – co-operation between the Congress and National Associations of Local and Regional Authorities
Resolution 246 (2007) on local elections in the Republic of Moldova
(observed on 3 and 17 June 2007)
Resolution 253 (2008) Kosovo Municipal and Assembly elections (Serbia)
Resolution 254 (2008) presidential elections in the Republic of Srpska (Bosnia and
1 The Congress was then known as the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.
2 Signed on 13 April 2005.
3 CdR 202/2004.