Follow-up Committee on the Third Summit
CM-SUIVI3(2006)CB1 24 January 20061
Meeting of 19 January 2006
The Follow-up Committee on the Third Summit (CM-SUIVI3) held its 6th meeting on 19 January 2006 with Ambassador Gheorghe Magheru, Permanent Representative of Romania, in the chair. It considered the following questions in the light of the notes on the agenda (CM-SUIVI3(2006)2), following the convocation (CM-SUIVI3(2006)OJ1).
At the start of the meeting the Chair paid tribute to his predecessor, Ambassador Duarte, under whose leadership, and thanks to the general impetus provided by the Portuguese chairmanship, outstanding progress had been made with follow-up to the Third Summit, as was borne out by the review at the 115th Session of the Committee of Ministers. He was determined, as was the Romanian chairmanship, to continue in the same vein until the 116th Session, on 18 and 19 May 2006.
1. Follow-up to the Third Summit: state of affairs and prospects
a. Political priorities for Summit follow-up until May 2006
The Chair, referring to the letter he had sent his colleagues on 21 December 2005 (see appendix to Notes on the Agenda CM–SUIVI3(2006)2), said that in his letter he had submitted both methodological and substantive proposals for future work on follow-up to the Summit.
With regard to methodology, the Chair confirmed his proposal to stick to the working methods and distribution of tasks approved at the start of the CM–SUIVI3’s work, while ensuring that certain rapporteur groups or working groups of the Committee of Ministers, such as the GR–H, the GR–C, the GT–REF.INST and the TC–EG, were more directly involved in activities that fell within their remit. In view of developments since the end of 2005, follow-up to the Summit decisions concerning intercultural dialogue – which largely overlapped with the activities implementing the Faro Declaration – could also be entrusted to the GR–C.
The Group agreed to the guidelines suggested by the Chair, on the understanding that the fact of delegating follow-up of a CM–SUIVI3 issue to a competent rapporteur group or working group should not under any circumstances be interpreted as meaning that it was less politically important (several delegations said, in this connection, that they set great store by the implementation of Part V of the Action Plan). In any event, the CM–SUIVI3 would continue to be in charge of follow-up to all the Summit decisions, regardless of the body that dealt with them.
One delegation suggested, accordingly, that the Rapporteur Group on Democracy (GR-DEM) be responsible for dealing with the Forum for the Future of Democracy. The Chair suggested discussing this suggestion a little later, when the Group held a substantive discussion on the subject (see below). The thematic co-ordinator for equality between women and men (TC-EG) said that the first meeting of the Task Force responsible for preparing the prospective campaign to combat violence against women would be held in Strasbourg from 21 to 23 February. He offered to report back at the CM–SUIVI3 meeting in March. The Group accepted his offer.
With regard to political priorities for follow-up to the Summit up till May 2006, the Chair drew attention to the three priority issues proposed: consolidating the system of human rights protection; the memorandum of understanding with the European Union; and democracy and good governance. Referring to the table showing the signatures and ratifications of Protocol No.14 to the European Convention on Human Rights produced the previous day at the 953rd meeting of the Deputies, he said that every CM–SUIVI3 meeting until the 116th Session would systematically take stock of the situation.
The Group endorsed the political priorities suggested by the Chair, on the understanding that specific reports would be submitted in due time to the CM–SUIVI3 on the other topics mentioned in the letter of 21 December 2005 (namely, combating terrorism, organised crime and trafficking in human beings; the action plan for children; intercultural dialogue; preparation of the campaign on violence against women and the youth campaign; implementation of Part V of the Action Plan). Several delegations reported on progress in their countries towards signature and/or ratification of Protocol No.14. The Group took note of this information with satisfaction.
One delegation stressed the link between negotiations on the memorandum of understanding with the European Union and the proposals that Mr Juncker was to make, in a personal capacity, in his report on relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union. Referring to the discussions already held on the subject, in particular at the informal ministerial session on 16 November, the delegation highlighted the existing agreement whereby the negotiations should in due course take account, as appropriate, of Mr Juncker’s ideas and recommendations. The Chair confirmed that that was indeed the Romanian chairmanship’s intention, and referred to the recent correspondence on the subject between the Chair of the Committee of Ministers and the President of the Parliamentary Assembly.
Lastly, the Group held a preliminary substantive discussion on one of the subjects it had just singled out as a priority, namely the Forum for the Future of Democracy, on the basis of a contribution submitted a few days previously by the Swedish delegation (“non-paper” of 13 January 2006, reproduced in document CM-SUIVI3(2006)3). The discussion, which was introduced by the Permanent Representative of Sweden, may be summed up as follows:
- The Group warmly welcomed the Swedish proposals. It unanimously agreed that they provided a basis on which to prepare a reference document in which the Committee of Ministers would set out guidelines for the Forum’s objectives, working methods and organisation, in the light of the experience of the launch meeting held in Warsaw on 3 and 4 November 2005 and bearing in mind the need for flexibility;
- While there was a general consensus in favour of the conceptual aspects of the Swedish “non-paper”, a number of minor points were made in connection with more specific matters, such as the intervals at which the Forum’s plenary sessions should be held, the extent to which the host country should be allowed to choose the theme, the terms of reference and membership of the advisory group that could be responsible for overseeing the process, and the idea that Forum sessions should move between member states and the Council of Europe headquarters. Particular attention was drawn to the dilemma of how to reconcile the need for flexibility and the need for a degree of continuity and coherence in the work of the Forum: one delegation argued in favour of giving the host country as much freedom as possible to organise the Forum’s plenary sessions (and, in particular, choose the themes), whereas several delegations were in favour of setting up an informal co-ordinating body, as Sweden had suggested;
- It was generally agreed that three factors were essential to the success of the process: a rigorous and almost scientific approach to the preparations and the documents produced; the choice of theme, in particular its relevance to the democratic challenges facing member states; and the involvement of the various components of civil society (people working on the ground, academics, researchers, NGO leaders, etc) in addition to the traditional actors in political life (representatives of governments, parliaments and local or regional authorities);
- Several delegations highlighted the need for the Forum to achieve tangible, operational results that could actually be applied in member states. One delegation – recalling a proposal made by the Secretary General in Warsaw – suggested co-operating with national and European political parties, which were key democratic players and were more directly concerned with breathing new life into democracy. The delegation was satisfied to note that one of the themes suggested in the Swedish contribution for the future work of the Forum was “challenges for political parties”;
- In the course of the discussion two delegations (the Russian Federation and Sweden) said their authorities wished to host a plenary session of the Forum, in autumn 2006 and spring 2007 respectively. The Group welcomed these declarations of intent.
In conclusion, the Group took note with satisfaction of the Secretary General’s offer to draw up a consolidated document on the basis of the Swedish “non-paper” and the discussion. Those delegations that so wished were asked to send in any additional contributions in writing by Friday 27 January so that the Secretary General could finalise his document and circulate it to delegations by Friday 10 February at the latest, with a view to the CM–SUIVI3 meeting on 21 February.
With regard to procedure, the CM–SUIVI3 would continue to be responsible for discussing and preparing the Committee of Ministers reference document on the Forum. Once the document had been finalised, preparations for the Forum’s second plenary meeting should be set in motion as soon as possible (and in any event before the ministerial session). If necessary, the preparations could be carried by another body (for example the GR-DEM, in conjunction with the advisory group suggested by Sweden).
b. Updated road map for the implementation of the Action Plan
The Chair reminded the CM–SUIVI3 that it had, in summer 2005, drawn up a road map for the implementation of the Action Plan, which had been appended to the message the Committee of Ministers had addressed on 28 September to all the Council of Europe intergovernmental co-operation committees. The road map had been updated by the Secretariat (see document CM-SUIVI3(2006)1) in the light of the conclusions of the 115th Session, developments since then and the guidelines in the Chair’s letter of 21 December 2005.
In the light of the discussions it had just had under the previous item, the Group took note of the road map and instructed the Secretariat to update it as appropriate with a view to the ministerial session.
2. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1712 (2005) on Follow-up to the Third Summit: draft reply
The Chair reminded the Group that the Parliamentary Assembly had adopted Recommendation 1712 at its June 2005 session, and that a reply had therefore to be provided at the January 2006 session at the latest. He drew attention to the reply drafted by the Secretariat (CM/AS(2006)Rec1712 prov.) and the written proposals for amendments received from the Netherlands delegation.
The Group approved the proposed draft, as amended by the Netherlands proposals. It would therefore be formally adopted at the continuation of the 953rd meeting of the Deputies (19 December), at the close of the CM–SUIVI3 meeting, so that it could be forwarded to the Parliamentary Assembly.
3. Other business
4. Date of the next meeting
The Chair informed the Group of the proposed timetable of its work, following the discussions held at the current meeting (see appendix).
The next meeting would take place on Tuesday 21 February 2006 at 3pm.
Timetable of the CM–SUIVI3’s work until May 2006
In addition to an examination of the state of ratification of Protocol No.14 at each meeting, the following is envisaged:
- Tuesday 21 February 2006 at 3pm
1. Memorandum of understanding with the European Union
2. Forum for the Future of Democracy
- Tuesday 14 March 2006 at 3pm
1. Memorandum of understanding with the European Union
2. Intercultural dialogue
3. Report on preparations for the campaign to combat violence against women
- Tuesday 25 April 2006 at 3pm
1. Memorandum of understanding with the European Union
2. ECHR: implementation of the decisions taken at the 114th Session
[- Thursday 4 May 2006 at 3pm and/or Thursday 11 May 2006 at 3pm
- Preparation of a report on follow-up to the Summit for the 116th Session of the Committee of Ministers]
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.