Ministers’ Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union
GR-EU(2002)CB2 10 September 2002
Meeting of 5 September 2002
The Rapporteur Group on Relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union (GR-EU) met on 5 September 2002 with Ambassador Georgs Andrejevs, Permanent Representative of Latvia, in the Chair. The discussions were held on the basis of the draft agenda (GR-EU(2002)OJ2) and the notes on the agenda (GR-EU(2002)2).
Item 1: Council of Europe’s contribution to the work of the Convention on the future of Europe
The Chair reminded participants that the Convention on the future of Europe, set up under the Laeken Declaration, had begun its work on 28 February 2002 under the chairmanship of the former President of the French Republic, Mr Giscard d’Estaing. Following the decisions taken by the Ministers' Deputies at their 778th meeting (19 December 2001, item 1.3), the Secretary General had prepared a memorandum for the attention of the Convention (see CM/Inf(2002)29). It had been transmitted to the Convention by Mr J. Santer, Representative of the Luxembourg Government, and circulated as a Convention document.
For its part, the Parliamentary Assembly had held an exchange of views with Mr Amato, Vice-Chairman of the Convention, at the meeting of its standing committee in Lucerne on 29 May. On 26 June it had adopted Resolution 1290(2002) on the future of the co-operation between European institutions on the basis of a report by Mr R. van der Linden, also a member of the Convention as representative of the Netherlands Parliament. The resolution and the report had also been distributed to the members of the Convention.
Following this introduction, the Secretary General presented the main points of his contribution, stressing the common aims that the Council of Europe and the European Community had shared from the outset and the historic opportunity that was now available, thanks to the political upheavals witnessed over the past twelve years, to further the European political project as a whole through interaction between its different components. The Secretary General referred for the purpose to the four proposals set out in his memorandum:
1. building the future European Union on the solid foundations of the Council of Europe’s existing instruments and institutions;
2. accession of the EC/EU to the European Convention on Human Rights as part of a coherent approach to the effective protection of human rights;
3. developing pan-European responses to major challenges (terrorism, organised crime, drug and human trafficking, etc);
4. using the Council of Europe as a forum for EU foreign policy towards its immediate neighbours.
The Secretary General said that the Secretariat was closely following the work of the Convention and the working groups it had set up, particularly Working Group II, chaired by Commissioner A. Vitorino, which dealt with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. This last question would be dealt with at a hearing held by the working group in Brussels on 17 September, to which the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Communities had been invited to send a representative each. The hearing would follow the conference held by Luxembourg the previous day, at which the relationship between the Charter and the ECHR would also be discussed. In this context, he recalled that Mr H.C. Kruger, outgoing Deputy Secretary General, had recently been appointed Special Adviser to the Secretary General to monitor the work of the Convention.
On the basis of this presentation, the Group held a detailed exchange of views on the work in progress in the EU Convention and the Council of Europe’s contribution to it. During the discussion:
- the representatives of the Luxembourg Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union expressed their support and appreciation for the contributions made by the Secretary General and the Parliamentary Assembly on behalf of the Council of Europe. They referred in particular to the fundamental issue of consistency in the system for the protection of human rights in Europe and the discussions in progress on the subject, to which the seminar in Luxembourg on 16 September and the hearing in Brussels on 17 September would undoubtedly make significant contributions;
- the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly reviewed recent and ongoing initiatives in the Assembly, including the reports by Mr Prisacaru on the Council of Europe’s contribution to the debate on the future of the European continent and by Mr Pangalos on the planned European constitution, which were to be discussed by the Assembly in September 2002 and January 2003 respectively. The texts to be adopted as result of those discussions would supplement and broaden the official positions set out in Resolution 1290 and Recommendation 1568 of 26 June 2002 on the future of co-operation between European institutions;
- the Representative of the European Commission also expressed his appreciation for the Council of Europe’s interest in the Convention’s work and active contribution to it. The Commission and the Council of Europe had identical views on the issues raised in this context and the Commission wished to take full account of the role and potential of the Council of Europe and the OSCE in the ongoing debate on the objectives and structures of European integration in the broad sense;
- all the delegations that took the floor expressed their appreciation of the Secretary General’s contribution and the Parliamentary Assembly’s initiatives. They stressed the importance they attached to the pursuit of active monitoring of the Convention’s work by the Council of Europe. Mention was made of the possibility of a visit by Mr Giscard d’Estaing to Strasbourg at the beginning of 2003.
In conclusion, the Chair emphasised the Group’s interest in this question and its appreciation for the action taken so far, particularly by the Secretary General and the Parliamentary Assembly. The Group would keep this item on the agenda of its forthcoming meetings.
Item 2: State of co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union
a, Report by the Secretary General for the period January-December 2001
The Chair reminded participants that the Secretary General’s annual report on relations between the Council of Europe and the EU for the period January-December 2001 (document SG/Inf(2002)12) had been distributed on 28 March 2002. After hearing a brief presentation of the report by the Secretary General, the Group agreed to recommend that the Ministers' Deputies take note of it at their 807th meeting (11 September 2002).
b. Joint programmes between the Council of Europe and the European Commission
The Director of Strategic Planning said that 12 joint programmes between the Council of Europe and the European Commission were currently operational (ten country-specific and two thematic programmes). Negotiations were under way for new joint programmes, particularly with the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The new joint programmes would concern Russia, Georgia, the Moscow School of Political Studies, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Moldova. The total value of the new joint programmes would come to more than € 7.5 million, out of which the Council of Europe would contribute € 3.5 M. Agreement on the new programmes was expected in the autumn of this year and they would be operational in 2003/2004.
The Group took note of the detailed information on the current programmes provided in document DSP(2002)11, and of the additional explanations given by the Representative of the European Commission. In conclusion, the Chair stressed the very positive view taken by the two parties and the Group on co-operation in this area, and hoped that agreement would be reached on further achievements by the GR-EU’s next meeting.
Item 3: Information on recent and future contacts and meetings
a. 18th quadripartite meeting (Strasbourg, 25 September 2002)
The Chair introduced the discussion of this item by referring to documents GR-EU(2002)3, which contained general information on the quadripartite meetings and a preliminary draft agenda of the meeting of 25 September, and SG/Inf(2001)36, which summarised the content and results of the latest quadripartite meeting, held in Brussels on 20 November 2001 at the invitation of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union.
The Chair of the Ministers' Deputies informed the Group of the proposals made by the Luxembourg Chairmanship as host of the 18th quadripartite meeting. He provided information on the three items proposed in the appendix to document GR-EU(2002)3, then suggested adding a further item on migration issues, referring to the conclusions of the meeting held on 5 July 2002 under the aegis of the Rapporteur on Co-operation in the Mediterranean Basin (see synopsis of the meeting: RAP-MED(2002)CB1) and the forthcoming 7th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Migration Affairs, to be held in Helsinki on 16 and 17 September.
The Representatives of the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission welcomed the holding of this high-level meeting and confirmed the participation of the competent Council and Commission authorities. While noting with interest the addition proposed by the Luxembourg Chairmanship, they wished the discussions to focus on the major issues of common political interest, namely items 1 and 2 of the preliminary draft agenda.
During the ensuing discussion, the accent was placed in turn on the topicality of the migration issue and the importance of setting a date for developing co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union on this subject, and on the need for a concentrated agenda for the quadripartite meeting in order to ensure that it was as relevant and effective as possible. The same dilemma arose with regard to item 3 of the preliminary draft agenda on partnership in conflict prevention and the European contribution to the United Nations initiative on dialogue on peace building.
In conclusion, the Group agreed to the draft agenda as appended to this synopsis, on the understanding that the discussions would focus on items 1 and 2, while items 3 and 4 would serve to mutually inform the participants (notably in writing) on current and/or planned activities and to pave the way for the future development of co-operation. The agenda of the quadripartite meeting would be finalised at the close of the discussions still to be held by the competent bodies of the Council of Europe (Deputies’ 807th meeting, 11 September 2002) and the European Union (meeting of the COSCE on 12 September 2002).
b. International Conference on the Council of Europe’s Contribution to the European Union’s Acquis (Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 3-4 June 2002)
The Director General of Legal Affairs reminded participants that the Council of Europe, in co-operation with the Spanish authorities and the Xunta de Galicia and with the support of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, had held a conference on the Council of Europe’s contribution to the European Union’s acquis. The conference, held in Santiago de Compostela on 3 and 4 June 2002, had brought together institutional representatives of the Council of Europe (Parliamentary Assembly, Committee of Ministers and Secretariat) and the European Union (European Parliament, Secretariat of the Council of the European Union and European Commission), governmental and parliamentary representatives from Council of Europe member states, particularly from countries that had applied to join the European Union, and members of the scientific community.
On the basis of document DGI(2002)6 setting out the conference programme, the list of participants and the conclusions adopted at the close of the conference, the Group discussed the content and outcome of the conference. During the discussion several delegations expressed their appreciation of and support for this initiative and the importance they attached to appropriate follow-up. In conclusion, the Group noted that the Secretariat had already ensured the appropriate internal circulation of the document (forwarding to the Parliamentary Assembly and the relevant expert committees so that they might take account of it in their future work); it agreed to recommend to the Deputies that the relevant rapporteur groups (GR-H and GR-J) should be invited to discuss issues specifically relating to their terms of reference in greater depth. It also noted with interest that a conference jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Commission on the theme “Towards a better access to justice for citizens”, would be held in Brussels from 24 to 26 October 2002.
c. Meeting between the Troika of the Article 36 Committee of the Council of the European Union and the Council of Europe (Brussels, 14 March 2002)
The Director General of Legal Affairs reminded participants that the 11th consultation meeting between the Troika of the Article 36 Committee of the Council of the European Union (Presidencies, Secretariat of the Council and Commission) and a delegation from the Council of Europe had been held in Brussels, at the EU Council headquarters, on 14 March 2002. He referred to document DGI(2002)4 which contained a detailed report of the meeting, the programme and the list of participants. The Group took note of the document and the Chair, on its behalf, expressed his appreciation of the quality of current co-operation in this area.
Item 4: Any other business
Item 5: Date of the next meeting
Will be fixed at a later stage.
18th Quadripartite Meeting
European Union/Council of Europe
(Strasbourg, 25 September 2002)
1. Institutional developments
- Enlargement and accession (EU and CoE)
- Convention on the future of Europe
2. Political issues of common interest and joint programmes and initiatives in particular concerning:
- South East Europe (FRY/Serbia and Montenegro; BiH; "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia")
- Russian Federation
- South Caucasus
3. Migration (information on current activities and the prospects for future cooperation)
4. Partnership in conflict prevention (European contribution to the UN initiative on dialogue on peace building)
5. Any other business.