Ministers’ Deputies / Bureau
CM/Bur/Del(2002)21 9 September 2002
Ad referendum votes
Memorandum prepared by the Bureau of the Deputies
Rules of Procedure for the meetings of the Ministers' Deputies
Method of voting
“1. In every vote it shall be open to a Deputy:
b. to agree a text or decision ad referendum; in that case he shall inform the Secretariat at a later date whether he is able to give his final agreement. Should his vote have been necessary in order to obtain the statutory majority or to achieve the required unanimity, the adoption of the text or the application of the decision shall be suspended; once the final agreement had been given, the text or decision shall take effect as of the date on which the vote was taken in the meeting of the Deputies;”
Decisions on implementation of these provisions
At their 231st meeting, in 1974, the Deputies adopted the following rules concerning the ad referendum procedure:
“a. Where, in accordance with Article 10, paragraph 1.b of the Rules of Procedure for the Meetings of the Ministers’ Deputies, a Deputy agreed a text or decision ad referendum, the Chairman shall ascertain whether that Deputy’s vote is necessary in order that the decision may be regarded as having been taken according to the relevant voting rules;
b. if so, the Committee shall fix a time-limit, normally expiring at the beginning of one of the Deputies’ forthcoming meetings, within which the Deputy having voted ad referendum shall be asked to inform the Secretariat of his government’s final position (in accordance with the practice, the Deputy having voted ad referendum is often asked to state his final position before the end of the current meeting) 1 ;
c. if, on expiry of this time-limit, the Deputy in question has given his final agreement or has not contacted the Secretariat, the decision shall be deemed to have been taken at the date on which the vote was taken in the meeting of the Deputies;
d. if, before the expiry of the time-limit, the Deputy in question informs the Secretariat that he is unable to give his final agreement, the matter shall again be placed on the agenda of the Committee of Ministers, for consideration at the earliest possible meeting of the Deputies.
The procedure for "informing" the Secretariat under d above should be oral during meetings of the Deputies and in writing between the two meetings.”
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Over the past few months the Ministers' Deputies have on a number of occasions made use of the possibility of agreeing a decision ad referendum in accordance with Article 10.1.b. of the Rules of Procedure.
In most instances the delegations concerned were able to remove the ad referendum restriction, and the decision was therefore formally adopted. However, this was not always the case, thus raising questions concerning interpretation of the Deputies' decisions cited above and their appropriateness in the light of new working methods (timing of meetings, new information technologies).
Publication of decisions agreed ad referendum
In view of the conditional nature of ad referendum agreement to a decision, the decision is not reproduced in the (public) volume of decisions published shortly after the meeting and often before the expiry of the time-limit.
Current practice is to publish the paper version of the volume of decisions (distributed solely to delegations) in full. However, a decision agreed ad referendum is not published on the Committee of Ministers' web-site before the time-limit has expired or the ad referendum condition has been lifted. Implementation of the decision is naturally also suspended until its formal adoption has been confirmed.
The Bureau confirms this practice and further instructs the Secretariat, in future cases of adoptions of decisions ad referendum, to ascertain, in accordance with Article 10.1.b, whether an ad referendum vote would prevent the adoption of decisions.
Procedure for “informing”
As soon as the relevant delegation(s) has(ve) informed the Committee of Ministers secretariat of its(their) position, the secretariat transmits this information to all delegations via a "compliments slip" sent through internal mail, supplemented by an e-mail or a fax at delegations' express request.
Furthermore, at the start of the Deputies' next meeting, the Secretary to the Committee of Ministers orally notifies the committee of the outcome of the ad referendum procedure. If necessary, he specifies at which future meeting of the Deputies the matter could be reconsidered.
The Bureau also confirms this procedure.