Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
GR-DEM
Rapporteur Group on Democracy

GR-DEM(2009)CB10 17 November 20091
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Synopsis
Meeting of 12 November 2009

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The Rapporteur Group on Democracy (GR-DEM), chaired by Ambassador Margaret HENNESSY, Permanent Representative of Ireland, considered the following items appearing in the convocation
(GR-DEM(2009)OJ10).

1. Armenia: Draft Co-operation Programming Document for 2009-2011
DSP(2009)6rev2

At the Chair’s invitation, the Secretariat introduced the draft programming document DSP(2009)6rev 2 and the Representative of Armenia made a statement, reproduced in an appendix to this synopsis.

The participants agreed that the concerns raised by the Armenian delegation regarding the process of preparing the programming documents should be the subject of a separate general and collective discussion.

As to the draft programming document before them, the participants agreed to alter the designation of Project 12 bis – forming a complement to Project 12 – by deleting the words “on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue”. The Group instructed the Secretariat to rectify the draft document accordingly.

The participants decided to transmit the draft programming document, with this amendment, to the Ministers’ Deputies for approval at their 1070th meeting (18 November 2009).

2. Moldova: Prospects for co-operation with the Council of Europe

    DPA/Inf(2009)36

Document DPA/Inf(2009)36, as presented by the Secretariat (Director of Political Advice and Co-operation), was received with satisfaction by the Group.

The speakers expressed their support firstly for the content of the “democracy package” expected to be covered by a new joint programme with the European Commission, and secondly for the preparation of additional proposals for co-operation activities in line with the wishes of the Moldovan authorities, particularly in the field of rule of law and independence of the judicial service, local government reform, confidence-building measures towards the Transnistrian region and the organisation of elections (including the compilation of the electoral rolls and training for voters).

Several delegations asked that the future document presenting the proposed co-operation activities embody a section on the co-operation activities conducted by the other international organisations and the other players active in Moldova, to guard against risks of duplication.

The Secretariat indicated that a document of this kind would be submitted to the group for consideration at the beginning of next year.

3. Belarus: “Situation in Belarus” - Recommendation 1874 (2009) of the Parliamentary Assembly - Examination of a draft reply

    CM/AS(2009)Rec1874prov

The Group considered the draft reply prepared by the Secretariat, which as a whole met the wishes of the delegations.

Proposals for amendments put forward by the delegations of Ukraine (see DD(2009)566) and the Russian Federation were discussed. After the discussion, the Chair invited the Secretariat to present a revised draft reply for the Group to examine at its next meeting.

The Chair also referred to her exchange of correspondence with the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia as set out in document DD(2009)561. She proposed, in keeping with the decision adopted by the Ministers’ Deputies at their 1062nd meeting (1 July 2009) by which they “authorised the GR-DEM to hold ad hoc exchanges of views with the representative of Belarus to the Council of Europe when the agenda of the GR-DEM includes issues concerning co-operation with Belarus”, to invite the Representative of Belarus to take part in an exchange of views in the context of the discussion to be held by the Group at its next meeting on the state of co-operation with Belarus, on the occasion of the report which the Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs would make on his visit to Minsk (30 November-1 December).

The proposal received the Group’s support. It was agreed that the Representative of Belarus would only be present for part of the discussion on the state of co-operation in Belarus.

4. Abridged report of the 44th meeting of the European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR) (Strasbourg, 21-23 September 2009)
CM(2009)151rev

The Group considered the abridged report of the 44th meeting of the European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy, appearing in document CM(2009)151rev, including the CDLR’s unfavourable opinion on a possible additional protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government, and various draft terms of reference.

The Group agreed to transmit the abridged report to the Deputies for adoption of the relevant decisions at their 1073rd meeting on 9 December 2009, without further debate (item in the box).

5. Third annual report of the Centre of Expertise for Local Government reform
CM(2009)156

At the invitation of the Chair, the Secretariat (Director of Democratic Institutions) presented the aforementioned report (see document CM(2009)156). He pointed out the various achievements and indicated that the Centre was receiving more and more requests for assistance from all regions of Europe. He drew attention to the paucity of the human and financial resources available to the Centre, and stressed the resolve to increase its effectiveness, in particular by enhancing the synergies between projects.

The Group agreed to make an amendment to the draft decisions prepared by the Secretariat, approved the draft decisions as amended and as set out in document CM/Notes/1073/2.4, and decided to transmit them to the Ministers’ Deputies for adoption at their 1073rd meeting on 9 December 2009, without further debate (item in the box).

6. Forum for the Future of Democracy: Results of the last session (Kyiv, 21-23 October 2009)

    FFD(2009)13

The Chair, supported by several delegations, welcomed the success of the Forum, the quality of its preparation, its conduct, and the reception given to the participants by the Ukrainian authorities.

The Representative of Ukraine placed special emphasis on the high level of the participants. He wondered about follow-up to the conclusions of the Forum. The Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs recalled that the Forum was not a decision-making body but a “process” seeking to induce the competent players both inside and outside the Council of Europe to take initiatives inspired by the proceedings of the Forum.

He said that the Secretariat had already entered upon consideration of the Forum’s configuration and outcomes, and that the evaluation report – to deal with the process itself – is expected to be available early in December.

7. Other business

None

8. Date of the next meeting

The next meeting will take place at 10 am on Thursday 10 December 2009.

Appendix

Item1: Armenia: Draft Co-operation Programming Document for 2009-2011

Statement by Mr. Zohrab Mnatsakanian
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Armenia
(Strasbourg, 12 November 2009)

This is the third draft of the Co-operation programming document for Armenia. At the outset we wish to note that we do not consider this protracted process a problem, our emphases are rather on insuring a credible and realistic document to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders, including, first of all the beneficiaries. We will not hesitate to express our appreciation of the work of the Secretariat, however would expect due understanding of our needs and our arguments for the sake of achieving an improved quality of planning and implementing co-operation programmes.

The process of preparing this document took longer than it used to during previous such occasions but it clearly demonstrated that there is a necessity for revisiting the whole process at all stages, beginning with the method of identifications of programmes all the way to the evaluation of completed ones in order to assess the effectiveness of implementation and results. It is worthy of mentioning once again that the whole process should be conducted with a full engagement of the beneficiary countries and improved co-ordination between them and the Secretariat. Having said this, we also recognise that improved internal co-ordination during the project identification and planning phases concerns the beneficiaries as well. In order to help avoid such situations there is a need for an improved, structured and coordinated action and information sharing between the national co-ordinator, in our case the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by extension this delegation here in Strasbourg and the Secretariat.

The paper before us has in our view a better structure and reflects more precisely the real financial situation. There are 26 projects in this paper, of which 14 are ongoing projects and 12 are proposed new projects. Of the total 14 ongoing projects 9 are EU-Council of Europe joint projects, 4 are financed by the ordinary budget and 1 is relying on voluntary contributions. Within the 12 new projects 2 are joint projects and 10 will rely on voluntary contributions. Of the total 14 ongoing projects 8 are regional projects of which 6 are financed by joint programmes, 1 is financed by ordinary budget and 1 is based on voluntary contributions. Amongst the 12 proposed projects 4 are of a regional nature, of which 1 will rely on joint programmes and 3 will depend on voluntary contributions. Of the total of 26, net projects for Armenia are 14, of which 6 are ongoing projects and 8 are proposed projects. Amongst this 8 proposed projects 1 is relying on joint programme financing and 7 would await voluntary contributions. This is the overall map of the programmes within this document that we have analysed as scrupulously as possible. We have prepared our own chart of the projects, which is appended to this paper.

Further analyses will help identify some other important aspects of planning and implementation. Total budget for all the 26 projects is 8.1 million Euros. Amongst the total of 26 projects there is one project that stands out as the most fundamental one. We have emphasised its importance, relevance and direct tangible benefit of the project many times and will do so again. This project has been a product of detailed and serious negotiations between all the parties concerned and in our view represents a good case study for other projects as well. The process of co-ordination and negotiation has been exemplary and deserves emulation. The focus at the moment is entirely on ensuring quality implementation. This is the “Access to Justice” project, which alone accounts for 4.1 million Euros. Therefore this project alone accounts for over 50 % of the total budget and represents approximately 75% of the total secured funding for all projects.

Of the total financially secured projects five projects with a total budget of 737,000 Euros will already be completed by the end of this year. This means that the total secured operational budget for 2010-2011, excluding the “Access to Justice” project amounts to 690,000 Euros. Taking into account the fact that we are close to the end of 2009, we believe that an earlier rather than a mid-term review of this co-operation programming document would be more appropriate. This will also help us assess and understand the tangible value and impact of those programmes in real terms.

Furthermore, the issue of voluntary contributions requires renewed focus. As indicated above, of the total 12 new proposed projects 10 are relying on voluntary contributions. Of these 10 projects 3 are of a regional nature and 7 are net projects for Armenia. In our view this is the weakest point in the document. These projects are related to such important activities as prison reform, combating economic crime, local democracy and so on. Having in mind previous experience, we have reasons to assume that the implementation of these projects remains doubtful. To demonstrate the reasons for our reservation we recall that at present there is only one out of the ongoing 14 projects that is financed by a voluntary contribution.

Therefore, by adopting these projects we are effectively just extending our benefit of the doubt about their implementation. Having in mind the assertion of the Secretariat that this document is, among other things, also of a fund raising nature, as well as the fact that the level of attraction of voluntary contributions remains very low, we believe this question deserves an overhaul. Otherwise, we just accept that in real terms there are only 16 instead of 26 total projects, or only 2 rather than 12 new proposed projects for Armenia. Perhaps we may wish to just abandon the present practice of programming on the basis of voluntary contributions unless they are secured. In a previous draft of this paper there were several very useful proposed projects, however, we were compelled to strike them out since they have never attracted any voluntary contributions. The present reality suggests that fund raising is rather a matter chance than a systematic and sustained process. We have to ask ourselves how long would proposed projects need to stay in a programming document, as well as when and how we should make reprioritisation? In other words, do we need a strategic review of this exercise or this is the best ever practice that we are applying? The important question in this regard concerns the identification of effective and consolidated mechanisms for the attraction of potential donors and consideration of fund raising as a joint activity for all the parties concerned, including the beneficiaries.

Another question that deserves a thorough examination is the method of allocation and spending of funds, namely the budgetary breakdown of each and every project and its evaluation both in terms of substance and procedure. Unfortunately, we have to note that after several requests for additional information on budget, it eventually transpired that such information is classified for member states, or perhaps for some member states, we are still not very sure about it. Such practice raises serious concerns about the transparency of the overall process. What is the basis for such restriction of access to information? Is there a decision adopted by member states in this regard? We wait to be provided with the requested information.

We wish to underline that funds are spent on a beneficiary country, the beneficiary country accepts funds with gratitude, however it is a direct party to the process, it has legitimate reasons to concern itself about the quality and effectiveness of funds spent to its benefit. This is a question of both practical and political nature. Despite the difficulties we encountered in inquiring about this secret part of the Co-operation programming document, based on what we were able to acquire we can note that questions arise about the real term effectiveness of the projects and their impact on reform processes in beneficiary countries. Our perception of this document is that it is not just a compilation of programmes with regard to one particular country otherwise we could have limited ourselves to the Programme of Activities. This is in our strong view a document that outlines the activities to support reform processes in beneficiary countries. Therefore, its effectiveness is assessed strictly in terms of real term impact.

There are other issues that may deserve further reflection, however, we are willing to move forward and adopt the Co-operation programming document. We appreciate the co-operation of the Secretariat and consider to have achieved the best possible draft under the circumstances. At the same time, we believe that the adoption of this paper is not the end, but rather the beginning of a comprehensive re-evaluation process for programming of co-operation activities. We rely on the ongoing and future co-operation of all the stakeholders in this process and look forward to a sustained dialogue to this end, both bilaterally, as well as multilaterally, including within the format of the GR-DEM. Once again, we emphasise the overwhelming priority of identifying and putting into practice such reviewed mechanisms and working methods, which will enhance the co-ordination between all the parties concerned, including the beneficiaries, in order to raise the effectiveness and quality of both identification, planning and implementation of co-operation programmes, to be assessed against the yardstick of their direct real term impact on reform processes of the countries concerned. Finally, we look forward to a successful implementation of this programme and its effective evaluation.

* * *

Appendix

Total number of projects-26
Total budget - 8.115.827 million
Amount required – 2.382.250 million

Amount secured -5.733.577

«Access to Justice»- 4.159.577

Others-1.574.000

 

5 projects with a total budget of 737 000 will be completed in 31.12.09

ONGOING PROJECTS

14

PROPOSED PROJECT 12

SOURCE

JP

OB

VC

JP

OB

VC

TOTAL 26

9
1 is «Access to Justice»

4

1

2

-

10

REGIONAL
12

6
4 PROJ. WILL BE COMPLETED 31.12.09

1

1
WILL BE COMPLETED
31.12.09

1

-

3

NET FOR ARMENIA
14

3

3

-

1

-

7

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.


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