Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Administrative and Budgetary Questions
GR-AB(2004)CB9 26 July 2004
Meeting of 12 July 2004
The Rapporteur Group on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (GR-AB) met on 12 July 2004, with Ambassador Zoltan Taubner, Permanent Representative of Hungary, in the chair. The Group considered the following items in the light of the draft annotated agenda (document GR-AB(2004)17).
1. Review of Resolution(97)9 on the status and the conditions of service of the judges of the European Court of Human Rights
(CM(2004)69, Resolution(97)9, GR-AB(2004)CB6, CM/Del/Dec(2002)784/4.7, CM/Del/Dec(2004)869/4.6 and 883/4.2)
1.1. The Chair recalled that the Group had given preliminary consideration to this item at its meeting of 28 May 2004, notably on the basis of a technical presentation highlighting the budgetary implications of the three alternatives currently under review – the Secretary General's proposal, the judges' proposals (both set out in document CM(2004)69) and the Budget Committee's recommendation (CM(2004)94, paragraphs
33-41) – in comparison to the present situation. The Chair drew the attention of delegations to 3 new documents: a letter dated 28 June 2004 from the President of the Court notably commenting on the Budget Committee's recommendation; supplementary comparative information requested at the last meeting (document GR-AB(2004)18); and finally comments on document GR-AB(2004)18 prepared by the Registry on the instructions of the President of the Court (dated 6 July 2004).
1.2. Summing up the discussions, the Chair noted that there appeared to be general agreement that the present situation should be changed. A majority of delegations expressed their preference for the Budget Committee's recommendation, a number noting however their willingness to discuss other options. Delegations underlined the budgetary constraints facing the Organisation and in this context noted that the alternatives involving a lesser financial burden appeared to be more realistic.
1.3. With regard to setting up a working party on this matter, the Chair noted that he would give follow-up to this suggestion after consultation with the Chairman of the Deputies and the Chairman of the Liaison Committee with the European Court of Human Rights (CL-CEDH). Careful consideration would be required as to the possible terms of reference, composition (open-ended) and to which body such a working party should report.
1.4. The Chair noted that work on this item was progressing and proposed to resume consideration after the summer recess.
2. Exchange of view with the Data Protection Commissioner
2.1. Recalling previous discussions1, the Chair welcomed Mrs Waltraut Kotschy, Data Protection Commissioner of the Council of Europe, to the meeting. The abridged statement of Mme Kotschy is appended to this synopsis. The exchange of views centered on the general principles of data protection. In application of these general principles, the Data Protection Commissioner noted that a “need to know” principle applied to access to the information on consultants in a personalised form (name, nationality, service provided and fee); and that this principle applied equally to both members of the Secretariat and the Committee of Ministers. In this particular case she was not convinced of the need for the Committee of Ministers to have access to this data in personalised form to carry out its statutory functions.
2.2. Delegations underlined the need for transparency in the management of budgetary resources. They stressed the responsibility of the Committee of Ministers in overseeing the sound management of the financial resources of the Council of Europe and the need to have access to the requested information on consultants in performing these duties. It was further stressed that transmission of the data requested to the Committee of Ministers did not mean publication of information; the Committee of Ministers was the decision making body of the Council of Europe, and the information would be treated as confidential.
2.3. The Chair thanked Mrs Kotschy and concluded that there remained clearly diverging opinions between delegations and the Data Protection Commissioner on the general principle of transmitting the requested information to the Committee of Ministers. He noted that the exchange of views would be very useful for the Group's examination of the next item, where normally solutions were proposed to deal satisfactorily – from all points of view – with this matter in the future.
3. Revision of Resolution(76)4 on consultants and new resolution on outsourcing contracts to external service providers
(CM(2004)105 and Resolution(76)4)
3.1. Following a debate on the two draft resolutions on consultants and on outsourcing contracts to external service providers (CM(2004)105) in which delegations indicated their general satisfaction, the Chair invited the Secretariat to submit revised drafts in the light of the comments/proposed amendments made by delegations. The Chair also invited those delegations which may wish to propose other amendments to submit them in writing before the end of August. He proposed to resume consideration of revised drafts at a forthcoming meeting.
4. Co-ordinated Committee on Remuneration (CCR) - Revised mandate of the Joint Pensions Administrative Section (JPAS) - 156th report
4.1. Following clarifications as to the functioning and financing of the JPAS, the Chair noted that there was a general agreement to recommend to the Deputies the approval of the revised mandate of the JPAS, as set out in the Appendix to the 156th Report of the CCR (CM(2004)109), with effect from 1 October 2004.
5. Co-ordinating Committee on Remuneration (CCR) - Hungary: Special adjustment of remuneration at 1 June 2004 - 157th report
5.1. Noting that no delegation wished to take the floor on this item, the Chair concluded that the Group could recommend that the Deputies adopt the draft decisions as set out in the draft annotated agenda, thereby approving the special adjustment of salary scales for Hungary with effect from 1 June 2004.
6. Any other business
Language courses – debate continued on this matter. Delegations reiterated the need for a non-discriminatory approach with regard to members of permanent representations. Questions were raised about the efficiency of the new format, the external audit and the financial implications of the new language policy. Concluding the exchange of views on this item, the Chair noted that the Group could come back to this question at a later stage in the light of the experience gained following the first round of inscriptions for the new system. He also noted the request by one delegation for the 2005 draft budget to show the appropriations allocated to language training in comparison with 2004.
7. Date of the next meeting
Thursday, 16 September at 10 a.m.
The Data Protection Commissioner recalled the following general principles of Data Protection in Europe which should be applied to the problem under consideration. In fact, although no specific text could be applied, a number of data protection principles exist, generally accepted as standards in most of the member states of the Council of Europe.
Considering existing European legal instruments concerning data protection, in particular European Convention ETS No 108 and the European Union Directive, the following principles can be stated:
Confidentiality is the rule and communication of personal data the exception which as such must be duly motivated.
The data in question concerning consultants are personal data, the name being attached to a series of other data defining the contractual relationship between the expert and the Council of Europe. These data are evidently not public data and are as such subject to data protection.
They are not sensitive data and therefore do not require special measures of protection, but are not for this reason exempted from protection as data protection is not limited to sensitive data.
These data were collected for the purpose of concluding a contract between the Council of Europe and the consultant. They could not be communicated for a different purpose without a legitimate justification. The “need to know” principle would have to be applied.
The “need to know” principle is valid not only between an Organisation and a third party but also within the Organisation: A member of the Secretariat or a statutory organ of the Organisation can only access those personal data which are needed for the discharge of their statutory functions.
Communication of data must be lawful and fair. In this context, “fair” would mean that the consultant is informed from the outset for which purposes his/her data are collected and to whom his/her personal data will be transmitted (e.g. to the Committee of Ministers) and under which circumstances. “Lawful” implies that the communication takes place either with the consent of the data subject or in his/her vital interest, or in the overriding legal interests of those persons or institutions who claim to need these data for the discharge of their legitimate functions.
Disclosure of experts´ data in personalised form to the Committee of Ministers would have to be founded in “overriding legal interests”. Making use of this legal basis would need spelling out more clearly, in which situations it would be necessary to communicate data within the organisation, in fully personalised form. Clearly defined rules would help to deal with this question satisfactorily and should therefore be elaborated in future.
It was agreed that the data would have in any case to be used confidentially by the Committee of Ministers. Not only publication of the data would be considered as a breach of confidentiality but also their use outside the Council of Ministers and/or for different purposes.