CM(2006)168 27 September 20061
975 Meeting, 11 October 2006
1 General questions
1.8 Rationalisation of intergovernmental committees
Proposals by the Chair of GT-REF.INST
1. As part of the implementation of Section V of the Action Plan, the GT-REF.INST has, among other things, considered possible ways of rationalising the work of the intergovernmental committees of experts which are the pillar of the Council of Europe’s standard-setting activities. It has proceeded by means of informal consultations as well as at a meeting held on 20 September 2006.
2. In 2006, 30 steering committees, ad hoc committees and the like (reporting directly to the Committee of Ministers) and 53 subordinate committees were active. Virtually all of these bodies were set up under a decision by the Committee of Ministers.
3. The terms of reference of two ad hoc committees and 45 subordinate committees are due to expire on 31 December 2006. The 2007 draft Programme of Activities [doc.CM(2006)146 Volume II of 7.9.06] proposes that new tasks be assigned to 27 of them, and to three new bodies, which would already represent a decrease of 17 in the number of committees (36%).
4. The renewal or approval of each of these terms of reference (steering committees, ad hoc committees or subordinate committees) should be considered by the Committee of Ministers (after the relevant rapporteur group has given its opinion) in direct conjunction with the discussion of the Programme of Activities, in order to take more precise account of the Council of Europe’s standard-setting work in all the Organisation’s major areas of concern
5. To allow a better assessment of the value of the proposed activities, terms of reference should comply with the terms of Resolution Res(2005)47, under which the presentation of terms of reference must include an evaluation of the relevance of the project2. It is further suggested that this presentation should also include an assessment of the value added, i.e. the relative advantage of carrying out the project at the Council of Europe as opposed to other international forums, and the suitability of the committee concerned in relation to other Council of Europe committees. Other selection criteria for projects may be added depending on the outcome of the debate on document CM(2005)146.3
6. Draft mandates should indicate their financial implications.
7. To make it easier for the Committee of Ministers to take decisions on terms of reference, it would be convenient if their expiry dates were to coincide as far as possible.
8. Generally speaking, each steering committee, ad hoc committee or the like should be made aware of the obligation to focus its activities on topics falling within the scope of the Council of Europe’s priority aims. In a similar vein, it is essential that each of these committees should make a critical appraisal of its work over the last few years. The message of the Committee of Ministers to committees involved in intergovernmental co-operation at the Council of Europe [CM-SUIVI3(2006)18 revised] meets these needs and should be translated into action.
9. All the provisions of the resolution on committees and subordinate bodies, their terms of reference and working methods [Res(2005)47] must be applied.
10. In this connection, it should be noted in particular, but not exclusively, that the rapporteur groups may invite steering committee chairs to discuss the evaluation of activities and present work in progress and the prospects for future activities in line with the Organisation’s priorities.
11. All committees should critically assess their working methods; in particular they should make as much use as possible of electronic means of communication in order to reduce the number of meetings. The latter should be result oriented. Furthermore, they should also consider working in smaller working groups.
12. Other proposed measures concerning working methods, in particular those presented in the independent study commissioned by the Secretariat4, will be considered by the GT-REF.INST in due course.
13. Several suggestions made concerning specific areas of intergovernmental co-operation should be examined by the relevant rapporteur groups which will make recommendations to the Committee of Ministers as appropriate. The list of these suggestions is appended.
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The suggestions made in the GT-REF.INST will be examined by the following Rapporteur groups:
- halving of the four subordinate committees to the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR);
- setting up of a single committee responsible for childhood and children (merger of the Committee of Experts on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse (PC-ES), the Committee on Experts on Children and Families (CS-EF) and the new committee on parenting, in liaison with GR-SOC;
- new distribution of responsibilities between the subordinate committees to the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ);
- examination of the work of Committee of Experts on issues relating to the Protection of National Minorities (DH-MIN);
- setting up of a single committee responsible for childhood and children (merger of the Committee of Experts on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse (PC-ES), the Committee on Experts on Children and Families (CS-EF) and the new committee on parenting, in liaison with GR-J;
- transfer of the activities of the Committee of Experts to study organisational aspects of cooperation in organ transplantation (SP-CTO), Committee of Experts on Blood Transfusion (SP-HM), Committee of Experts on Quality Assurance in blood transfusion services (SP-GS) and Committee of Experts on safety and quality assurance for organs, tissues and cells (SP-SQA) to the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines (EDQM);
- rationalisation of committees dealing with migration;
- transfer of the activities of the Ad hoc Committee for the Agreement on Sport (CAHAS) to a partial agreement for sport;
- merger of Steering Committee for Culture (CD-CULT) and Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage (CD-PAT);
- setting up of a co-ordinating committee on intercultural dialogue (possibly as a result of the White Paper currently in preparation);
- examination of the “environment” field at the Council of Europe;
- examination of the cultural routes activities;
- rules for the reimbursement of travel and subsistence allowances of experts.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules set up in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.
Note 2 “relevance to the core values of the Council of Europe and the decisions adopted by the Committee of Ministers”
Note 3 entitled “Establishing criteria for projects”
4 . The Director of Strategic Planning presented the terms of reference for the study on the efficiency and effectiveness of committees under the Programme of Activities of the Council of Europe (Vote II) (DD(2006)437) at the meeting of the GT-REF.INST on 11 July 2006.