CM(2005)166 final 15 November 20051
115th Session of the Committee of Ministers
(Strasbourg, 16-17 November 2005)
Report on follow-up to the Third Summit
The Third Summit is an important milestone for the Council of Europe. In Warsaw, Heads of State and Government from the 46 member states called for a Europe without dividing lines, based on common values. They wanted to see a strong Council of Europe, focused on its areas of expertise and working in synergy with its European partners. They adopted a declaration giving the Council of Europe an enhanced political mandate and asked the Committee of Ministers to implement an action plan mapping out the Organisation’s activities for the coming years.
The Ministers will find below their Deputies’ report on the action taken in response to the Warsaw decisions.
At the instigation of the Portuguese Chair – which has made follow-up to the Summit its top priority – the Deputies have undertaken to implement rapidly the declaration and the action plan. They have decided to monitor directly the conduct of the different activities initiated in Warsaw through a specific structure of the Committee of Ministers, the CM-SUIVI3. The Follow-up Committee, chaired by the Chairman of the Deputies and comprising the Permanent Representatives of all member states, with the participation of representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, as well as the European Commission, began work in June.
The Deputies began by ensuring that all the decisions taken at the Summit were incorporated as quickly as possible into the normal institutional apparatus of the Council of Europe, and that they were integrated into the Council’s programme of activities and budget from 2006. Such was the purpose of the message adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 28 September for all the committees involved in intergovernmental co-operation at the Council of Europe2.
They then set about giving practical effect to the four political priorities on which the Heads of State and Government had said they were expecting substantial results, aiming to make concrete progress for the ministerial session in November 2005. The priorities in question involve:
– consolidating the Council of Europe’s system of human rights protection
– stepping up Council of Europe action to promote democracy
– building a more humane Europe
– fostering co-operation between the Council of Europe, the European Union, the OSCE and the United Nations.
I. STRENGTHENING THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE’S SYSTEM OF HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION
The Heads of State and Government have underlined the “indispensable role” played by the European Convention and Court of Human Rights, whose effectiveness must be guaranteed. Mindful of the issues at stake, the Portuguese Chair has given top priority to setting up a Group of Wise Persons to take a long-term look at the future of the ECHR, and presented a timetable and some proposals at its first meeting in May.
Against this background, the Chairman of the Deputies was mandated by his colleagues to present – following a call for candidatures and based on the criteria of competence, experience, integrity and independence – proposals for a select group of wise persons, bearing in mind the need for geographical and gender balance.
Consultations were held over the summer and on 14 September, the Deputies endorsed their Chairman’s proposal.
The Group of Wise Persons, which comprises Professor Rona Aybay (Turkey), Ms Fernanda Contri (Italy), Mr Marc Fischbach (Luxembourg), Professor Dr Jutta Limbach (Germany), Mr Gil Carlos Rodriguez Iglesias (Spain), Professor Emmanuel Roucounas (Greece), Mr Jacob Söderman (Finland), Dr Hanna Suchocka (Poland), Mr Pierre Truche (France), Lord Woolf of Barnes (United Kingdom) and Mr Veniamin Fedorovich Yakovlev (Russia), elected Mr Rodriguez Iglesias as its Chairman during its first meeting in Strasbourg on 18 October and held its second meeting in Paris on 9 November. The Group will present an interim report on its work at the 116th Session of the Committee of Ministers, in May 2006. It is anticipated that the Group’s final report will be ready by the end of 2006.
The need to ensure the entry into force of Protocol No. 14 reforming the supervisory mechanism of the ECHR within the timeframe set out at the Committee of Ministers’ 114th Session, that is by May 2006, remains an immediate priority notwithstanding the importance given to the Group of Wise Persons’ reflection on the long-term efficiency of the European Convention on Human Rights. This implies that all member states without exception should deposit their instrument of ratification of the Protocol within the agreed deadline. Accordingly, it is particularly urgent that those states which have not yet done so take all the necessary steps to respect this timeframe. Like the Portuguese Presidency, the future Romanian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers will attach the utmost importance to this matter.
Beyond Protocol No. 14, the Deputies underline the importance of implementing all the reforms adopted in May 2004 and inform the Ministers that a full progress report on the implementation of all these measures, including those requiring action at the national level, will be presented by the Deputies at the 116th Session in May 2006.
In Warsaw, the Heads of State and Government also expressed their desire to strengthen the institution of the Commissioner for Human Rights. Based on the Secretary General’s proposals, the Deputies are considering how to provide the Commissioner with the necessary means to perform his tasks, particularly in the light of the entry into force of Protocol No. 14.
At the same time, the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly took joint steps to ensure the continuity of the office, by seeing to it that a successor to the serving Commissioner, Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles, was appointed. After receiving 9 applications for the post, it compiled a shortlist of three and forwarded it to the Parliamentary Assembly. On 5 October 2005, the Assembly elected Mr Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden) as the new Commissioner.
II. STEPPING UP COUNCIL OF EUROPE ACTION TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY
Aware that the promotion of democracy and good governance is one of the key messages which emerged from the Warsaw summit, the Deputies have sought to further the Council of Europe’s contribution to this objective. They have devoted their efforts to launching the Forum for the Future of Democracy and setting up the Centre of Expertise on Local Government Reform.
Following the invitation from the Polish authorities and the proposals made jointly by Poland, Spain, Sweden and Armenia, the meeting to launch the Forum for the Future of Democracy took place in Warsaw on 3-4 November 2005, on “civic participation”. It attracted around 100 participants, representing the four types of democratic players, namely, governments, parliaments, local and regional authorities and civil society.
The participants underlined that the Forum should be a continuous process and that in between of the different annual meetings, work should continue through flexible co-operation networks between the various partners. As far as the topic chosen for the launch meeting was concerned, the Forum invited the Council of Europe as well as member states and international organisations to ask open-ended working groups to prepare a synthesis on civic participation in Europe. This document would examine and compare the experience of the different member states at national, regional or local level, and develop proposals such as the drafting of a Code of conduct for civic participation.
With regard to the Centre of Expertise on Local Government Reform, over the summer the Committee of Ministers received proposals from a group of six countries: Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In the light of the discussions held on this subject within the CM–SUIVI3 and after consultation of the Bureaux of the Congress and the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR), the Secretary General has prepared a consolidated document setting out guidelines for establishing the Centre, as from 1 January 2006, for a 3-year trial period.
The Centre of Expertise will, on request, provide targeted assistance to member states with building the operational capacity of local authorities. It will develop and use tools and programmes to drive up standards of local government performance and effective services to local citizens. It will draw on expertise and best practice from across Europe and work closely on the ground with local government ministries, national associations of local authorities and other national and international organisations. Established within the existing structures of the Organisation, it will co-operate with the CDLR and the Congress, both of which will be represented on an Advisory Board. It will be active in seeking external resources to extend its activities.
III. BUILDING A MORE HUMANE EUROPE
At the Third Summit, Heads of State and Government expressed their determination to ensure security for European citizens in the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms and other relevant international obligations. The Heads of State and Government furthermore confirmed the importance of the European Social Charter and emphasized the necessity of building a more humane and inclusive Europe, underlining that social cohesion, education, culture and health were essential factors for embedding Council of Europe core values in our societies and for the long-term security of Europeans.
In these areas, which cover chapters II and III of the Action Plan, the Ministers ‘Deputies have given special attention to the following subjects:
– signature and ratification of the three conventions opened for signature in Warsaw, on the prevention of terrorism, laundering the proceeds from organised crime and action against trafficking in human beings respectively. The discussions held within the Co-ordination Group between the Council of Europe and the OSCE helped to assess the outlook for joint action by the two organisations to speed the entry into force of these conventions and their implementation;
– the setting-up of the task force responsible for preparing the pan-European campaign to combat violence against women, including domestic violence. Made up of eight international experts on preventing and combating violence against women3, this task force will begin work in January 2006 so that the campaign can be launched by the end of that year. The campaign will then continue in 2007 and 2008;
– the launch of the three-year action programme for children. This programme will build on the Council of Europe’s existing achievements (and all its efforts to build “a Europe for and with children”), thus giving fresh political impetus to its work in this area. The launch will take place in Monaco in the first half of 2006 and an internal task force has been set up for this purpose within the Secretariat. This task force will be responsible not only for preparing and implementing the programme, in a multidisciplinary context, but also for ensuring that the integrated approach to children’s rights advocated at the Summit is reflected in all of the Council’s activities;
– the setting-up of the high-level task force to review the Council of Europe strategy to promote social cohesion. It will take place before the end of 2005 on the basis of the decisions taken by the Ministers’ Deputies on 19 October (which included the call for candidatures with a deadline fixed at 30 November and the adoption of the terms of reference of the future task force);
– the development of intercultural dialogue, within European societies as well as between Europe and neighbouring regions. On the basis of the decisions taken at the Third Summit, a policy paper on Council of Europe action to promote intercultural dialogue was prepared and adopted at the Conference of European Culture Ministers in Faro on 27-28 October 2005 and a number of instruments between the Council of Europe and competent international or regional organisations were put in place (in particular the Faro Platform between the Council of Europe and UNESCO, open to other institutional partners)4. Furthermore, a Council of Europe “White Paper” on integrated policies for the management of cultural diversity though intercultural dialogue and conflict prevention was launched and the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society was opened for signature. Finally, the co-ordinator set up by the Summit has been appointed.
IV. Fostering co-operation between the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations
One major step forward in Warsaw was the pledge given by Heads of State and Government to ensure close co-operation in international action and to co-ordinate it, in particular on the European scene. This is of particular relevance to the Council of Europe, the European Union and the OSCE, which the Summit asked to work in enhanced synergy and complementarity, based on their respective competency and expertise.
With regard to the European Union, the Committee of Ministers attaches considerable importance to the negotiations due to begin with a view to concluding a memorandum of understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union, the aim of which is to create a new framework for enhanced co-operation and political dialogue. The decisions taken at the Summit, and in particular the guidelines set out in Appendix 1 to the Action Plan, provide the framework for this. The Committee of Ministers is expecting the outline proposals to be presented in this regard by the British Presidency of the European Union and the European Commission. At the same time, it welcomes the opportunity afforded to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Council of Europe to hold an exchange of views with Mr Juncker at the informal meeting on 16 November, which is being held at the invitation of the Secretary General, and is eager to hear the report which Mr Juncker is to deliver in 2006 on relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union, in keeping with the terms of reference personally assigned to him at the Summit.
With regard to the OSCE, the process of fostering co-operation begun in 2004 has continued, on the basis of the Declaration on co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE signed in the context of the Third Summit. The Co-ordination Group emanating from the two organisations’ executive bodies held its second meeting in Strasbourg on 30 September 2005, following the initial meeting in Vienna on 7 March. The Strasbourg meeting provided an opportunity to note that significant progress has been made since the spring in the four key areas of co-operation, ie the fight against terrorism, the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, action against trafficking in human beings and the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination. Participants were also able to assess the prospects of a further strengthening of co-operation in the future, through joint activities5.
Beyond the European stage, it is essential that Council of Europe activities form part of the more global framework of the initiatives taken by the United Nations when addressing questions of a global nature such as terrorism. In this respect, the participation of the Secretary General in the meeting held by the United Nations Security Council on 17 October 2005 on “Co-operation between the United Nations and Regional Organizations in maintaining international peace and security” was particularly welcome.
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Lastly, regarding the implementation of Chapter V of the Action Plan, the reform process of the Council of Europe's organisational structures and working methods launched by the Summit is proceeding. The CM-SUIVI3 has received a series of proposals from the Secretary General on this matter, and regular reports will be presented to it. A progress report will be submitted to the Ministers at their 116th Session. This report will focus on progress made in strengthening the Council of Europe's operational capacity and improving the transparency of its activities and the evaluation of their results in terms of preserving and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. It was declassified at the 115th Session of the Committee of Ministers (17 November 2005).
Note 2 Cf. document CM(2005)145 revised.
Note 3 The composition of the “task force” is as follows: Ms Ayşe Feride ACAR (Turkey), Ms Dagmara BARANIEWSKA (Poland), Ms Helena EWALDS (Finland), Mr Manuel LISBOA (Portugal), Ms Rosa LOGAR (Austria), Ms Dubravka ŠIMONOVIČ (Croatia), Ms Hilary FISHER (United Kingdom, Parliamentary Assembly candidate) and Mr Chris GREEN (United Kingdom, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities candidate). Its members have been appointed on 10 November 2005 by the Secretary General, in consultation with the Rapporteur of the Ministers’ Deputies on equality between women and men and the Commissioner for Human Rights, on the basis of candidatures presented by the Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men, the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Equal Opportunities and the Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.
Note 4 See documents CM(2005)164 and CM/Inf(2005)44, 45 and 46.
Note 5 Cf. the report prepared by the two Chairs at the end of the meeting (CM/Inf(2005)43).