Ministers’ Deputies
CM Documents

CM(2009)57 30 march 20091
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1056 Meeting, 6 May 2009

6 Social Cohesion

6.1 1st Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion (Moscow, 26-27 February 2009) –
Report by the Secretary General

Item to be prepared by the GR-SOC on 21 April 2009
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Introduction

1. The 1st Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion was held in Moscow on 26 and 27 February 2009 at the invitation of the Minister of Public Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation.

2. Ms Tatiyana Golikova, Minister of Public Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation was elected Chair of the Conference.

3. The theme of the Conference was “Investing in Social Cohesion: Investing in Stability and the Well-being of Society”.

4. The principal questions for debate, which followed the main lines of the High Level Task Force Report “Towards an active, fair and socially cohesive Europe” (CM (2007) 175), as discussed by the European Social Cohesion Committee (CDCS), were presented by the High Level Task Force Chair, Professor Mary Daly. In-depth presentations, focusing on the working session topics, were delivered by the working session Chairs/key speakers.

5. The Conference agenda and Final Declaration can be found in Appendices I and II and on the DGIII/Social Policy website: http://www.coe.int/t/dg3/socialpolicies/ where keynote speeches are also available.

Participants

6. Delegations from 38 member states and from the Holy See took part, comprising twenty-eight Ministers, Deputy Ministers or Secretaries of State. Ministers from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan participated as guests of the Minister of Public Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation.

7. The list of Ministers and other Heads of Delegation appears in Appendix III. The full list of participants is available from the Secretariat upon request.

Conference debate

8. The Conference was opened by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Opening speeches were also made by Mr Alexander Zhukov (First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation) who read a message from Mr Dmitri Medvedev (President of the Russian Federation), Mrs Mercedes Cabrera (Minister of Education, Social Policy and Sport of Spain representing the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers), Mrs Maria de Belém Roseira (Portugal, representing the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), Mrs Svetlana Orlova (Representative of the Soviet of People's Deputies of Kemerovo Region and

Vice-President of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation for the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe), Mr Lars Kolte (President of the Governing Board of the
Council of Europe Development Bank), Professor Polanca Koncar (President of the European Committee of Social Rights) and Mrs Tatiyana Golikova (Minister of Public Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation).

9. Mr Vladimir Putin (Prime Minister of the Russian Federation) welcomed participants and addressed the Conference with a keynote speech on the importance of social policy in the current economic crisis, and more particularly on new social policy measures in the Russian Federation.

10. Working session I, “Reinvesting in social rights and building confidence in a secure future”, was introduced and facilitated by Mr Thomas Hammarberg (Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights).

11. In working session II, Mr Philippe Courard (Minister of the Interior and Public Service of Wallonia, Belgium) presented his experience with regard to “Social cohesion as a responsibility shared by all - strengthening mechanisms of representations and social and civic dialogue”.

12. Working session III, concentrating on “Policies for social cohesion and for well-being for all – a vision for the future” was introduced and guided by Ms Sotiroula Charalambous (Minister of Labour and Social Insurance of the Republic of Cyprus).

13. Topics highlighted by the 28 speakers in the debates following the keynote speeches were: social cohesion underpins, strengthens and supports the core values of the Council of Europe; social cohesion needs to be promoted, including through the ratification of relevant Council of Europe legal instruments, such as the Social Charter and the European Code for Social Security; existing social rights standards must not be watered down as a consequence of the global economic crisis; transversal national anti-poverty strategies are a useful tool to combat poverty; the involvement of all social partners, civil society and other stakeholders, such as private enterprise or the media, in sharing responsibilities for initiatives, decision making and action is the key element for realising a social policy based on solidarity and social cohesion; local authorities play an important role in developing and strengthening social cohesion; a national coordination body for social cohesion can help developing a transversal approach; a forthcoming meeting of the Forum for the Future of Democracy should be dedicated to social cohesion as a stabilising factor for democracy.

14. The Conference offered the opportunity for bilateral meetings between participating delegations.

Final Declaration

15. The Final Declaration emphasises that social cohesion supports the core objectives of the Council of Europe on human rights, democracy and the rule of law and that the important contribution the Council of Europe therefore makes through the transformation of the social cohesion concept into a series of policy goals and actions. It welcomes the High Level Task Force report “Towards an active, fair and socially cohesive Europe”, and in particular it draws attention to several priority areas: promoting social rights; encouraging public authorities at all levels to develop co-operation with civil society and through constructive dialogue, to promote shared responsibility for social cohesion; building confidence in a secure future for all.

16. The Ministers agreed that the Revised Social Cohesion Strategy should be reviewed in the light of the High Level Task Force report and taking into account recent economic and social developments, and on the basis of this review, that a Council of Europe Action Plan in the field of social cohesion, should be drawn up. They agreed that the CDCS should be entrusted with this work.

17. The Ministers welcomed the invitation by the Turkish authorities to hold the next Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion in Turkey in 2012.

* * *

18. With regard to the follow-up of the Conference, the Secretariat proposes that the CDCS should be instructed to present an up-dated Revised Social Cohesion Strategy to the Ministers Deputies’ before the end of this year, and the draft Action Plan before May 2010.

Appendix I

Agenda


Thursday 26 February 2009
 
Opening session

The Right Honourable Terry DAVIS, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Mr Alexander ZHUKOV, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

Mrs Mercedes CABRERA, Minister of Education, Social Policy and Sport of Spain, Chairmenship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers

Election of the Chair and the Vice-chairs of the Conference

* * *

Mrs Maria de Belém ROSEIRA, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Mrs Svetlana ORLOVA, Representative of the Committee on Social Cohesion, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Mr Lars KOLTE, President of the Governing Board of the Council of Europe Development Bank

Professor Polanca KONCAR, President of the European Committee of Social Rights

Mrs Tatiyana GOLIKOVA, Minister of Public Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation

This first Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Social Cohesion will re-launch the debate on the important role of social cohesion for European societies in the context of globalisation and the present economic crisis. The Conference will assess the political commitment necessary in order to strengthen social cohesion as society’s capacity to achieve, maintain and improve well-being for all, while applying an inclusive approach based on shared values.

The Conference will explore the level of investment required to guarantee social stability based on equal access of all to social rights and opportunities. In addition to respect for universal access to social rights, the Ministers will concentrate on the content and further development of those rights, including for the most vulnerable groups.

Presentation of the Report “Towards an active, fair and socially cohesive Europe” by Professor Mary DALY, Chair of the High Level Task Force for Social Cohesion in the 21st century

Panel discussion

Mr Vladimir PUTIN, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

Session I

“Reinvesting in social rights and building confidence in a secure future”,

moderated by Keynote Speaker and Session Chair:
Mr Thomas HAMMARBERG, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner

Panel discussion

More than rapid solutions and immediate answers, social cohesion deals with the “how to proceed”, taking into account the process as part of the result. It is in the context of “how to proceed”, including “how to dialogue”, that discussion on social rights becomes a debate on social cohesion. Session I will emphasise the link between social rights and confidence in the future, the link between recognised rights, effective rights and the capacity to act together.

Session II

“Social cohesion as a responsibility shared by all - strengthening mechanisms of representations and social and civic dialogue”,

moderated by Keynote Speaker and Session Chair:
Mr Philippe COURARD, Minister of the Interior and Public Service of Wallonia, Belgium

Panel discussion

Shared responsibility, in the sense that everyone is also responsible for the society as a whole, demands each stakeholder to discover and value their own capacity to contribute to the life of society, which requires support and legitimacy from public authorities. Session II will explore the link between shared responsibility and civic and social dialogue. Inclusive dialogue for shared responsibility needs to be transformed into indicators for well-being and action tools. This session will invite reflection on how to develop and apply innovative forms and content of such dialogue.

Friday 27 February 2009

Session III

“Policies for social cohesion and for well-being for all – a vision for the future”,

moderated by Keynote Speaker and Session Chair:
Mrs Sotiroula CHARALAMBOUS, Minister of Labour and Social Insurance of the Republic of Cyprus

Panel discussion

Session III will seek answers to how to build a future for all in an uncertain and permanently changing world. Special attention will be paid to how young people can maintain their hopes and enthusiasm for living together peacefully, develop a positive outlook on diversity and strengthen the common good.  Only a firm political commitment to the common good can overcome the uncertainty felt by citizens about their individual and shared futures.

Closing Session

Adoption of the Political Declaration

Closing remarks

Appendix II

Final declaration

We, the Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion of Council in Europe member States, meeting in Moscow, on 26 and 27 February 2009,

Emphasising that social cohesion, the capacity of a society to ensure the welfare of all its members by minimising disparities and avoiding polarisation, is more relevant than ever and requires a renewed political commitment;

Convinced that a rights-based approach to social cohesion calls for social and economic policy measures that provide effective access to their rights for everyone, especially for anyone who lives in, or is at risk of, poverty and social exclusion;

Recognising that, while building and maintaining social cohesion is first and foremost the duty of individual member States, mutual co-operation - particularly through the exchange of knowledge and experience and through dialogue on issues that transcend national borders - greatly assists progress towards social cohesion;

Building on the valuable contribution of the Council of Europe in this field, particularly through the transformation of the social cohesion concept into a series of policy goals and actions; 

Expressing our support for Council of Europe legal instruments for social rights, in particular the European Social Charter and revised European Social Charter, the European Code of Social Security and its Protocol, the European Convention on Social Security as well as for the Disability Action Plan;

Aware of the fact that responsibility for social cohesion is shared by all and requires active and integrated policies involving different levels of government, the private sector and civil society in a transversal approach;

Suggesting that governments should react to current challenges and opportunities - particularly globalisation, the democratic functioning of institutions, political, socioeconomic, demographic and health-related changes, migration and cultural diversity - and strengthen citizens’ confidence in the future by taking relevant measures, particularly developing new approaches taking into account the Revised Social Cohesion Strategy and the High-Level Task Force report;

Underlining the important role of the European Committee for Social Cohesion (CDCS), particularly in its steering, coordinating and evaluating functions and its role of facilitating co-operation among member States.

WELCOME the report of the High-Level Task Force, particularly the four priorities that it suggests, and on this basis

REQUEST the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe:

· to recognise that social cohesion supports the core objectives of the Council of Europe on human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

· to review the Revised Social Cohesion Strategy in the light of the High-Level Task Force report, taking into account the challenges resulting from the global economic crisis;

· on the basis of this review, to draw up a Council of Europe Action Plan in the field of social cohesion, building on existing activities and taking financial resources into account;

· to entrust this work to the European Committee of Social Cohesion, in co-operation with other relevant Council of Europe bodies, and with a view to reporting to the Committee of Ministers regularly;

· to intensify cooperation with the European Union, relevant United Nations bodies and other international institutions working in this field, in order to optimise efforts and create synergies;

COMMIT OURSELVES

Taking into account the transversal approach to social cohesion which is advocated in the High- Level Task Force report, to develop an integrated social cohesion policy in conformity with our national conditions;

With particular regard to the discussions held during the Conference:

- Promoting social rights: to acknowledge that social security and social protection are pillars of social cohesion; to promote the ratification of relevant Council of Europe instruments, including the European Social Charter and Revised European Social Charter, as well as the European Code of Social Security and its Protocol and the European Convention on Social Security;

- Sharing responsibilities and strengthening mechanisms of representation and social and civic dialogue: to encourage public authorities at all levels (central, regional and local government) to develop co-operation with civil society and, through constructive dialogue, to promote shared responsibility for social cohesion and effective cooperation in working towards achieving it;

- Building confidence in a secure future for all: to provide good governance and develop innovative policies which encourage individuals to trust democratic institutions; to alleviate the consequences of the current economic crisis by providing adequate social protection in conformity with both Council of Europe standards and active labour market policies; to facilitate social mobility, providing opportunity for all, and to encourage individuals, families and local stakeholders to develop their own life projects, with a specific focus on work as the best route out of poverty and on the reconciliation of private and working life;
 
SUGGEST that the next session of the Conference of Ministers take place in 2012;

Welcome the offer from Turkey to host the next Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion in 2012;

INVITE the Secretary General to forward the declaration adopted by the Conference to the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe and other international institutions.
 

*  *  *

 
The Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion in Council of Europe member States express their sincere gratitude to the Russian Government for all its efforts, which ensured the success of the Conference, and their congratulations on the perfect organisation of the event.

Appendix III

Heads of delegation

ALBANIA/ALBANIE
Mr. Anastas DURO, Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Albania

ARMENIA/ARMÉNIE
Apologised/excusé

AUSTRIA/AUTRICHE
Ms Bernadette GISINGER-SCHINDLER, Head of Department, Federal Ministry of Social Affairs and Consumer Protection

AZERBAIJAN/AZERBAÏDJAN
Mr Fizuli ALEKBAROV, Minister of Labour and Social Protection

BELGIUM/BELGIQUE
M. Philippe COURARD, Ministre des Affaires intérieures et de la Fonction publique de la Région wallonne

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA/ BOSNIE ET HERZÉGOVINE
Mr Sredoje NOVIC, Minister of Civil Affairs

BULGARIA/BULGARIE
Ms Emylia MASLAROVA
Minister of Labour and Social Policy

CROATIA/CROATIE
Mrs Donica NIKOLIĆ, State Secretary for Social Welfare in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare

CYPRUS/CHYPRE
Mrs Sotiroula CHARALAMBOUS, Minister of Labour and Social Insurance

CZECH REPUBLIC/RÉPUBLIQUE TCHÈQUE
Mr. Michal SEDLÁČEK, Deputy Minister for European Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

DENMARK/DANEMARK
Mrs Vibeke ABEL, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare

ESTONIA/ESTONIE
Ms Urve PALO, Minister for Population and Ethnic Affairs

FINLAND/FINLANDE
Mrs. Liisa HYSSÄLÄ, Minister of Social Affairs and Health

FRANCE
Mr Jean de GLINIASTY, Ambassador of France to the Russian Federation

GEORGIA/GÉORGIE

Apologised

GERMANY/ALLEMAGNE
Dr Günther HORZETZKY, Secretary of State, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

GREECE/GRÈCE
Mr Dimosthenis MAMMONAS, Secretary General for Social Security

HUNGARY/HONGRIE
Dr. Erzsébet KOVÁRIK, State secretary of Social Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour

ICELAND/ISLANDE
Apologised/excusé

IRELAND/IRLANDE
Ms Bernadette LACEY, Secretary General, Department of Social and Family Affairs, Ministry for Social and Family Affairs

ITALIA/ITALIE
Mr Marco RICCI, 1st Counsellor, Italian Embassy to the Russian Federation

LATVIA/LETTONIE
Ms Iveta PURNE, Minister of Welfare

LIECHTENSTEIN
Apologised/excusé

LITHUANIA/LITUANIE
Mr Klaudijus STANIONIS, Vice-Minister of Social Security and Labour

LUXEMBOURG
Apologised/excusé

MALTA/MALTE
Mr Joe GERADA, Deputy Chair of CDCS, Adviser to the Minister for Social Policy

MOLDOVA
Mr Andrei NEGUTSA, Ambassador of Moldova to the Russian Federation

MONACO
Apologised/excusé

MONTENEGRO
Ms Gorica SAVOVIC, Deputy Minister for Health, Labour and Social Welfare

NETHERLANDS/PAYS-BAS
Mr Cornelis VAN DER BURG, Director of the Department of Social Support, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport

NORWAY/NORVEGE
Ms Laila GUSTAVSEN, State Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion

POLAND/POLOGNE 
Mr. Radoslaw MLECZKO, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy of Republic of Poland

PORTUGAL
Mr Jose Antonio VIEIRA DA SILVA, Minister of Labour and Social Solidarity

ROMANIA/ROUMANIE
Mr. Marian SARBU, Minister of Labour, Family and Social Protection

RUSSIAN FEDERATION/FEDERATION DE RUSSIE
Mrs Tatiyana GOLIKOVA, Minister of Public Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation

SAN MARINO/SAINT-MARIN
Mr Gabriele RASCHI, Coordinator of Department for Health and Social Security

SERBIA/SERBIE
Mr Zoran MARTINOVIC, State Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy

SLOVAK REPUBLIC/REPUBLIQUE SLOVAQUE
Mr Peter SIKA, State Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family

SLOVENIA/SLOVENIE
Apologised/excusé

SPAIN/ESPAGNE
Ms Mercedes CABRERA, Minister of Education, Social Policy and Sport

SWEDEN/SUEDE
Ms Bettina KASHEFI, State Secretary, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs

SWITZERLAND/SUISSE
M. Pascal COUCHEPIN, Chef du Département fédéral de l’Intérieur (ministre)

“THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA”/« L’EX-REPUBLIQUE YOUGOSLAVE DE MACEDOINE »
Mr Xhelal BAJRAMI, Minister of Labour and Social Policy

TURKEY/TURQUIE
Mr Ahmet ERDEM, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Labour and Social Security

UKRAINE/UKRAINE
Mr Vladislav EGOROV, Councilor, Embassy of Ukraine to the Russian Federation

UNITED KINGDOM/ROYAUME-UNI
Ms Liz TILLETT, Head of International Employment and Social Policy, Department for Work and Pensions

* * *

HOLY SEE / SAINT-SIÈGE
S.E. Mgr Antonio MENNINI, Nonce Apostolique et Représentant du Saint-Siège auprès de la Fédération de Russie, Chef de Délégation

* * *

Committee of Ministers/Comité des Ministres
Ms Mercedes CABRERA, Minister of Education, Social Policy and Sport of Spain

Parliamentary Assembly / Assemblée parlementaire
Mme Maria de Belém ROSEIRA, Rapporteur on the HLTF Report and Sub-Committee on the European Social Charter and Employment / Sous-commission de la Charte Sociale Européenne et de l’Emploi

Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe / Congrès des pouvoirs locaux et régionaux du Conseil de l’Europe
Mrs Svetlana ORLOVA, Representative of the Soviet of People's Deputies of Kemerovo Region, Vice-President of the Federation Council of Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Representative of the Committee on Social Cohesion of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Commissioner for Human rights / Commissaire aux droits de l’homme
Mr Thomas HAMMARBERG, Commissioner for Human Rights / Commissaire aux Droits de l’Homme

Council of Europe Development Bank / Banque de Développement du Conseil de l'Europe
Mr Lars KOLTE, President of the Governing Board

Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe / Conférence des OING du Conseil de l’Europe
M. Jean-Marie HEYDT, Président de la Conférence

* * *

Secretariat/Secrétariat
The Right Honorable Terry DAVIS, Secretary General / Secrétaire Général

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted until examination by the Committee of Ministers.


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