Ministers’ Deputies
CM Documents

CM(2008)54 2 May 20081
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118th Session of the Committee of Ministers
(Strasbourg, 7 May 2008)

Follow-up to the Third Summit (Warsaw, 16-17 May 2005) – Implementation of the Action Plan, Chapter V
Progress report

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    Chapter V – implementing the Action Plan: a transparent and efficient Council of Europe

    “We instruct the Committee of Ministers to take steps to ensure that this Action Plan is rapidly implemented by the various Council of Europe bodies, in conjunction where applicable with other European or international organisations.

    As an urgent priority, we task the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General, assisted by independent expertise, to give fresh impetus to the reform process of the Council of Europe’s organisational structures and working methods. Building on efforts already in hand, the process shall aim at an efficient functioning of the Organisation according to its objectives and keeping fully in mind the need for budgetary restraints. Special attention should be paid to initiatives that will further secure transparency, cost-efficiency as well as internal co-operation and knowledge sharing.

    This reform process will be subject to regular progress reports to the Committee of Ministers.”

1. At the 117th Session of the Committee of Ministers (Strasbourg, 10-11 May 2007), the Ministers took note of the report by their Deputies on the work accomplished on the reform process of the Council of Europe’s organisational structures and working methods (cf. document CM(2007)46 final). The Ministers reaffirmed the importance they attach to the reform process and instructed the Deputies and the Secretary General to make increased efforts centred on measures for greater cost efficiency, effectiveness, internal co-operation and transparency. They asked their Deputies to prepare a comprehensive report on the reform process for their 118th Session in May 2008. This document summarises developments since May 2007 for presentation at the 118th Ministerial Session.

2. The Deputies and the Secretariat have continued to develop and implement the roadmap of Chapter V of the Action Plan. Since the Third Summit, a fresh impetus has been injected into the reform process and an enhanced effort has been made to co-ordinate and consolidate a number of ongoing initiatives in the areas of Budget, Programme of activities, Internal organisation, Human resources management, Internal communication and Transparency.

3. The current situation is characterised by a number of measures already completed and some more complex objectives which can only be implemented over a medium-term period, as has been set out by the Secretary General in his document "Towards a Medium Term Strategy" regarding reforming of the Organisation. Of the 25 measures under the Chapter V roadmap agenda, 8 have been completed in 2006 and 2 have been completed in 2007, as summarised in the Appendix. There are 15 further measures underway which will be pursued in the forthcoming year.

4. The main developments since May 2007 can be summarised as follows:

A. Budget

- A pluriannual perspective is now regularly included in the draft budget, in which both the financial and programmatic dimensions are closely linked; a simplified budget presentation concentrating on the policy level was applied in the preparation of the budget for 2008.

- Guidelines for the Secretariat for drawing up the proposal for the annual ceiling on total appropriations for salaries/staff-related expenditure [CM(2007)106 final] were approved and applied in the 2008 budget.

- A resource management and mobilisation strategy is currently being developed and will be submitted to the Committee of Ministers during 2008. The aim is to integrate the management and mobilisation of resources into an overall strategy for transparent planning, budgeting, programming and human resources management.

- In the process aimed at making the budget a true planning tool, further measures to reinforce accuracy and transparency have been agreed. At the end of 2007, it was decided to examine the causes of the recurring unspent budget balances,2 as well as the means of bringing them down to a reasonable level. A first effort has been made to examine the unspent balances of the 2007 Programme of Activities; a more detailed study, encompassing the whole budget, will be made. At the same time, it was decided to see whether the use of the negative reserve could be progressively reduced. The proposal for 2009 of the Secretary General in this sense3 is to be welcomed and pursued in future years.

B. Programme of Activities

- Criteria for launching, discontinuing and evaluating projects were approved by the Committee of Ministers in January 2007 [CM(2006)101 final] and are gradually being applied to the Programme of Activities on experimental basis in the framework of the Progress Review Report 2007.

- An evaluation policy is currently being developed and will be submitted to the Committee of Ministers during 2008. The future policy will be aligned with above mentioned criteria. The purpose of the policy is to establish a common institutional basis for the Council of Europe evaluation function, standardise and professionalise assessment methods, facilitate dialogue with relevant partners and stakeholders and to improve accountability.

- Efforts will be increased to ensure that the programme of activities better reflects the priorities laid down in the Warsaw declaration and Action Plan, namely in order to contribute to the fundamental objective of preserving and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

C. Internal organisation

- The Council of Europe will continue to review its internal organisation, with a view to bringing structures more closely into line with tasks.

- After the merger of the former Directorates General I and II into a new Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, further options to rationalise the Organisation’s structures are awaited. In particular, the Secretary General has been invited to prepare, before the end of 2008, proposals for the possible restructuring of DGIII and DGIV, taking also into account relevant lessons drawn from the restructuring of DGI and DGII.

- Two independent studies concerning organisational issues were completed in 2007:

    § a study on the Efficiency and effectiveness of intergovernmental committees and
    § a study about Staff/activities ratio and working methods of the Secretariat

Follow-up action has been examined by the Deputies and appropriate decisions taken at the end of April 2008, with a view to further streamlining activities in order to contribute to the core objectives of the Organisation as decided at the Warsaw Summit, and enhancing efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility in working methods and organisational structures, as well as transparency.

- Concerning the review and update of working methods of the monitoring mechanisms:

    i. the Committee of Ministers has revised the modalities for Committee of Ministers thematic monitoring, thus transforming the periodic monitoring into an ad hoc procedure, with a view to improving cost-efficiency, avoiding duplication and ensuring targeted follow-up.

    ii. progress has also been made to enhance organisation of cooperation activities, with particular emphasis put on measures reinforcing the link between activities and findings of monitoring mechanisms; efforts will now be channelled also towards coordination and cooperation between the various monitoring mechanisms. This work will be continued in 2008.

- Concerning the efficiency of the organisation and the reduction in the number of administrative reports, a case study on the array of administrative reports is being carried out in 2007 and in 2008, with a view to harmonising and streamlining requirements.

D. Human resources

- In the May 2006 progress report, a specific accent was put on human resources in all its aspects, so as to increase staff mobility and motivation, as well as synergies between departments.

- Guidelines and policy measures to improve mobility of staff were adopted in the context of the Executive Board in February 2008. Their implementation will require amendments to the Staff regulations which will be submitted to the Committee of Ministers in due course.

- A major job classification exercise has been undertaken since 2004, the first round of which was completed in 2007. The measures aimed at improving the coherence and consistency of posts across the Organisation by establishing clear categories of job families (60 reference jobs) and at correcting mismatches between the duties and the grades of an important number of posts (some 300 so far). In order to maintain budgetary neutrality, upgradings have to be balanced by other measures4; overall sustainability should be ensured in 2008 and future years. The Committee of Ministers will keep the overall impact under review.

- A new system for managing staff training was introduced in the first quarter of 2008. IT training and tools have been developed in order to facilitate routine tasks such as leave management, recruitment and information sharing via the intranet.

- The ongoing simplification and streamlining of the staff regulations will continue in 2008.

- The question of motivation of staff underlined in the study on staff/activities ratio and working methods of the Secretariat will be considered in detail.

E. Communication and transparency aspects

- A roadmap for the implementation of the communication strategy was devised in 2007, including improved use of resources allocated to communication; the second half-yearly evaluation report on the state of progress of work, in March 2008, describes measures undertaken to improve organisation of communication work, developing media strategies, increasing audiovisual production and developing partnerships, developing the Council of Europe visibility and enhancing its image, improved planning and management of campaigns, enhanced online communication and promotional work concerning publications.

- Significant progress was made, as noted by the External Auditor, to revise the Financial Statements in order to achieve over time full compliance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

5. Perspective

Building on the initiatives already undertaken, a number of - frequently interrelated - measures will continue to be implemented in 2008 and the following years. Further progress on transparency as well as internal coordination and cooperation will be pursued. In order to implement change and ensure ownership at all levels, continuous and targeted training, as well as activities to raise awareness in administrative reform and change management will be carried out. An implementation plan of the various measures is being prepared, which will allow a more efficient allocation of resources and support the management of change.

The Deputies will continue to regularly review the pluriannual framework for the implementation of Chapter V and encourage the ongoing reform process and streamlining with a view to the fundamental objective of preserving and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Appendix

FOR MORE EFFICIENCY AND GREATER TRANSPARENCY IN THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE – Perspective

Area / Action

Subsidiary body

Schedule

Year of
achievement

A. Budget

     

Simplified presentation

GR-AB

achieved

2006

Detailed access to information through information technology

GR-AB

achieved

2006

Introduction of a pluri-annual perspective

GR-AB

achieved

2006

Revision of the system of reimbursement of travel and subsistence expenses

GR-AB

achieved

2006

Ceiling on total staff expenditure

GR-AB

achieved

2007

Development of a resources mobilisation and management strategy

GR-AB

in progress

2007/2008

       

B. Programme of Activities

     

Clear presentation of source of financing for projects in the programme of activities

TC-PROG

achieved

2006

Alignment of the programme with the structure of the Warsaw Summit Action Plan

TC-PROG

achieved

2006

Elaboration of selection criteria for projects in the programme of activities

GT-REF.INST

achieved

2006/2007

Elaboration of methods for evaluating projects in the programme of activities

TC-PROG

in progress

2007/2008

       

C. Internal organisation of the CoE

     

Revision of mandates and consequently internal management structures with a view to increased efficiency

GT-REF.INST

in progress

2007/2008

Definition of adequate staff/activities ratio (external consultancy)

GT-REF.INST

in progress

2007/2008

Rationalisation of intergovernmental structures and their functioning (external consultancy)

GT-REF.INST

in progress

2007/2008

Improvement of monitoring activities and mechanisms

GT-REF.INST

in progress

2007/2008

More efficient organisation of cooperation activities

GT-REF.INST

in progress

2007/2008

Reduction in number and volume and harmonisation of activity reports

GT-REF.INST

in progress

2007/2008

       

D. Human resources

     

Implementation of the new information systems strategic plan

GT-REF.INST

achieved

2006

Improvement of recruitment procedures, enhancement of staff mobility, training and competency management

GR-AB

in progress

2007/2008

Improvement of working methods and simplification of internal procedures

GT-REF.INST

in progress

2007/2008

Fostering a corporate culture as opposed to one of “departmental turf”

GT-REF.INST

in progress

2007/2008

Development of a change management strategy

GT-REF.INST

in progress

2007/2008

       

E. Transparency

     

Timely distribution of information on the programme of activities, including financial aspects

GR-AB

achieved

2006

Implementation of a new communication strategy

TC-INF

in progress

2007/2008

Improved use of resources allocated to communication

TC-INF

in progress

2007/2008

Introduction of International Public Sector Accounting Standards

GR-AB

in progress

2007/2008

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. It will be declassified at the 118th Session of the Committee of Ministers (7 May 2008).
Note 2 The unspent expenditure appropriations (before deduction of the negative reserve) totalled € 6.6 million in 2006 and € 4.8 million in 2007 (subject to External audit).
Note 3 The Secretary General proposes to reduce the amount of the negative reserve in 2009 from € 2.6 million to € 2.1 million.
Note 4 The estimated cost of € 600 000 of this exercise was neutralised by the adoption of several ad hoc measures on staff expenditure. To date there have been 281 posts upgraded and 20 posts downgraded.


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