Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation
GR-J(2005)CB8 3 November 20051
Meeting of 24 October 2005
1. The Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation (GR-J) met on 24 October 2005, with Mr Niels-Jørgen NEHRING, Permanent Representative of Denmark, in the Chair. The Group adopted the agenda, as contained in the letter convening the meeting (GR-J(2005)OJ8 revised).
Examination of the draft programme of activities for 2006 in the legal field
2. The Chairman explained that the Group would examine the draft programme of activities in the legal field with a view to submitting its comments to the Rapporteur on the programme of activities (RAP-PROG). He referred to the list of reference documents contained in the annotated agenda (GR-J(2005)17) and in particular to the list of projects to be discussed in GR-J appended to the latter. However, the various activities on children as well as that on the centre of expertise on local democracy (contained in Lines of action 3, 4 and 6) were to be examined not in the GR-J, but in the Follow-up Committee on the Third Summit (CM-SUIVI3). The activities followed by the Rapporteur on Local and Regional Authorities (RAP-LOC), who unfortunately was prevented from participating in the meeting, were to be examined by the GR-J. The Chairman further explained that the Secretariat, Mr Guy De Vel, Director-General of Legal Affairs, would make a short introduction to each line of action and that the Group would then proceed with examining the draft programme project by project. This synopsis summarises the discussion.
Line of Action 1 - Compliance with Human Rights and Rule of Law standards
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages - 2004/DG1/13 Implementation and promotion of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
3. The Director-General explained that the increases in this field were mainly a consequence of the increased costs for translating national and evaluation reports. Delegations made no comment on this project.
MONEYVAL - S3 2004/DG1/78 Anti-money laundering measure evaluation programme (MONEYVAL)
4. The Director-General stressed the importance of MONEYVAL's work in monitoring the implementation of international standards in the field of the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, which had also been underlined at the Third Summit. He recalled that MONEYVAL was a European FAFT-style body and that the evaluation work based on the global methodology agreed by international financial institutions and the FAFT, had increased the volume of work considerably in this field. More in-depth work was required, missions were longer and reports could now be up to 300 pages long. For 2006 increases were requested both for staff and for operational costs.
5. The German delegation referred to its written comments contained in document CM(2005)142 Add 2, while underlining that although it appreciated the work of MONEYVAL and the synergies achieved through its cooperation with other international bodies, it questioned the 140% increase in appropriations.
6. Another delegation also questioned the need for increasing MONEYVAL's funding, in particular as the number of states to be monitored remained stable. The delegation asked for further explanations in writing concerning the need for this substantial increase for next year.
7. The Director-General referred once more to the increased volume of work due to the new working methods and the fact that many more institutions had to be seen during the country visits. He also mentioned that the length of meetings as well as the number of country visits were to increase in 2006 (4 plenary meetings next year as compared to 3 previously and 10 evaluations as compared to 8 in 2005). He would supply delegations with these and further explanations in writing.
CEPEJ - S3 2004/DG1/86 Evaluating and improving efficiency of Justice
8. The Director-General recalled that the Deputies had recently held an exchange of views with the President of CEPEJ which had touched inter alia on its discussions on the implementation of the Action Plan as far as this body was concerned. The CEPEJ aimed to improve the functioning of the justice system in member states, which was intended also to be an important element for bringing down the caseload of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as a large number of cases relate to problems with the functioning of national judicial systems. The CEPEJ had developed rapidly in the direction decided by member states.
9. One delegation asked what kind of recommendations CEPEJ would elaborate. It also asked whether CEPEJ was associated with the implementation of national measures in preparation for the entry into force of Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights.
10. A couple of delegations indicated their strong support for the CEPEJ. One of them asked for an addition to the logframe on p. 54, ie. the mentioning in the column “Assumptions” after “Network of pilot courts” of the “Joint Nordic research project on time management in Nordic courts” that would be presented to the CEPEJ in 2006. The other delegation underlined the importance of CEPEJ’s work in reducing the caseload of the ECHR. It also noted that its activities had caught the attention of the European Commission and underlined that it considered that this was an activity that should be carried out within the Council of Europe.
11. The Director-General agreed that this was an activity that should be carried out by the Council of Europe with its 46 member states, but there was an excellent co-operation with the Commission. The recommendations to be elaborated by the CEPEJ were not recommendations for adoption by the Committee of Ministers, but tools and guidelines elaborated by the CEPEJ that could be either general or addressed to a specific member state. As regards the ratification of Protocol No. 14 there had been no requests for assistance from member states, but it was not excluded that such requests would come. He pointed out that the first states to ask for assistance from CEPEJ were not new member states, but three old member states.
Monitoring by other Conventional Committees
12. The Director-General explained that for the two projects run by DG I under this programme there was a decrease in appropriations for next year due, on the one hand, to a restructuring of committees in this field and, on the other hand, to the fact that a number of assistance activities could be implemented within the framework of the Joint Programmes co-financed by the European Union.
2004/DG1/161 ETS No 108 - Protection of individuals with regard to the automatic processing
of personal data
13. There was no comment with respect to this project.
2004/DG1/199 Monitoring the operation of Conventions on Co-operation in the criminal field
14. The representative of one delegation stated that it was aware that some substantial proposals were under elaboration within the relevant expert committees and asked whether the budget decrease would impede their successful implementation.
15. The Director-General explained that the projects for 2006 had been examined carefully and that it would be possible to implement them as planned within the budget appropriations indicated.
Line of Action 3 - Building a society based on the Rule of Law
Democratic responses to terrorism - 2004/DG1/120 A legal framework for the fight against terrorism
16. The Director-General underlined the important achievements of the Council of Europe in this field in particular in the first part of this year in view of the Third Summit. The signature and ratification of the new conventions opened for signature at the Summit was now one of the main priorities. CODEXTER pursued its work with a view to identifying lacunae in international law and action against terrorism bearing in mind work undertaken in other international fora. Moreover, both CODEXTER and CDPC were currently considering possible action in the field of cyberterrorism. Finally, CODEXTER was also pursuing the elaboration of country profiles on counter-terrorism capacity (both legislative and institutional).
17. The German delegation reiterated a comment it had previously made in writing which was that CODEXTER was supposed to submit proposals for further action before the end of the year.
18. Another delegation indicated that it was pleased to note that CODEXTER would continue its activities. It asked whether the protection of victims was covered by the existing logframes or whether it needed to be added. It noted that this issue was the main topic of next years Conference of Ministers of Justice and that it did not appear to be mentioned in the programme of activities. It also noted that what was to be considered here was the legal framework for the fight against terrorism, whereas it recalled that some months ago the Ministers’ Deputies had asked all steering committees to indicate how they could contribute to the fight against terrorism. It questioned how this would be followed up and whether it would not be an idea to launch a transversal programme on terrorism like the one concerning children. The delegation was in favour of increased coordination of activities concerning the fight against terrorism and of setting up an integrated project in this field.
19. One delegation considered that the issue of the protection of victims was also transversal. It suggested an amendment in the wording in the project objective of the relevant logframe from “while ensuring human rights protection” to “while respecting human rights”.
20. The Director-General answered that CODEXTER would be submitting a first report on additional lacunae in international law and action before the end of the year. Its next meeting was to be held in Strasbourg, 8-10 November 2005. The Secretariat had no objection to the proposed amendment to the logframe. “Victims in law” would be the subject of the next Conference of Ministers of Justice. This title related to civil or criminal law. The Conference was to be held in October next year and would thus have an influence on the programme of activities for 2007. However, there was an activity underway concerning victims of terrorism and of crime in general which was to be found under Project 2004/DG1/164.
He further noted the provision on the protection of victims of terrorism in the recently adopted Council of Europe Convention on the prevention of terrorism, and the additional set of Guidelines on victims of terrorism. He stressed that this work had been coordinated by the Coordinator on Terrorism, and that the ensuing texts were perfectly compatible.
European standards for crime control
S3 2004/DG1/143 Effective measures to fight economic crime
21. The Director-General explained that the Council of Europe’s work in this field had been very successful. During the Portuguese chairmanship a conference was organised in Cascais on economic crime, which launched a number of ideas for future activities. There were several cooperation and assistance programmes with member states; to assist with the elaboration of legislation against corruption, money laundering and cybercrime, but also to assist with the setting up of the necessary institutions.
22. In the last few months the Cybercrime Convention had gained in importance due to the increased interest in the Convention at international level and to the fact that the attempts to elaborate a UN convention had failed. A considerable effort to promote ratification of the Cybercrime Convention not only by member states, but also by non-member states was thus being made. Proposals for a Protocol to the Convention relating to the spreading of pedo-pornography with the use of mobile phones was also being studied.
23. Delegations had no comments.
2004/DG1/164 Criminal law and policy development, police, prison systems and alternatives
24. The Director-General stated that this chapter contained some of the Council of Europe’s longstanding activities in the legal field. The European Prison Rules would soon be submitted for adoption to the Committee of Ministers and they would be updated periodically.
25. Delegations had no comments.
Functioning of justice
2004/DG1/97 Improving the organisation of independent judicial systems
26. The Director-General explained that this was a field in respect of which reductions were being proposed as there were Joint Programmes with the European Union.
27. Delegations had no comments.
2004/DG1/98 Strengthening the role and training of judicial professions
28. The Director-General explained that this was also a field in respect of which reductions were being proposed as there were Joint Programmes with the European Union.
29. One delegation asked whether juvenile justice would be included in this programme. It was also interested in activities for the training of lawyers and other law professionals.
30. The Director-General replied that there was certain flexibility in the activities carried out depending on requests from member states. No multilateral projects were foreseen for 2006.
International law and law making - 2004/DG1/178 Public international law
31. The Director-General explained that this project covered in particular the activities of CAHDI, a committee composed of the legal advisers of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs. It was a forum for sharing of views on topical issues on the agenda of the Council of Europe and other international organisations. Moreover, it operated as European observatory for reservations to international treaties.
32. Delegations had no comments.
2004/DG1/135 Promotion of European standards in the field of nationality, statelessness,
asylum and refugees
33. The Director-General underlined that the suspension of the CAHAR and the CJ-NA were the reasons for the decrease in the budget under this heading. Several delegations had made remarks in this respect to which the Secretary General had responded in his document.
34. A number of delegations stated that they wished to maintain CJ-NA and/or CAHAR. In the fields covered by these structures, the activities of the Council of Europe had a real added value. With respect to the CJ-NA they referred to the fact that nationality issues had been mentioned in the Action Plan adopted at the Third Summit. The CDCJ did not have the same expertise in the relevant field as the CJ-NA. Moreover, it was difficult to recreate a structure that had been suppressed. Important activities concerning nationality and terrorism and nationality and children were on the agenda of CJ-NA.
35. As regards CAHAR, one delegation recalled that it had proposed a merger of the CDMG and CAHAR; there were various possibilities for how this could be achieved which were not necessarily very costly. Another delegation referred to recently adopted Assembly recommendations proposing important subjects for CAHAR to work on, such as the issue of accelerated asylum procedures.
36. One delegation agreed with the Secretariat that there were no immediate priorities for CJ-NA. It recalled that there was already a Convention on nationality adopted in 1997. The activities of CAHAR could also be abandoned for the time-being to release resources for other activities. Another delegation shared this opinion, but could also favour a merger of CAHAR and CDMG.
37. The Director-General underlined that the fact of having no activities on nationality in the next few years did not exclude that such activities could be undertaken later. Such activities could also be undertaken by the CDCJ as they were covered by that committee’s terms of reference.
The CAHAR had done an excellent work over a number of years and had prepared several recommendations for adoption by the Committee of Ministers. At present, however, there were few projects in this field and member states had expressed little interest in them. Some remaining work had just been started and could be interrupted without problem. Should there later be a need for a new activity in this field, it could be entrusted to the CDCJ. As regards the proposals to merge CAHAR and CDMG, reference was made to the the Secretary General’s comments.
The Director-General pointed out that the experts in the CDCJ could be assisted by specialists on nationality or refugee law as the case might be. He stressed that the importance of a subject or an activity should not be confused with the question which structure should deal with it, and that having a permanent structure was not always necessary. In the light of the other priorities in DG 1 next year, there would be no staff available to continue these activities. However, there would be a follow up to them as the amount of 20 000 euros had been set aside for assistance activities.
2004/DG1/162 Administrative law and administrative justice
38. In reply to a question posed by a delegation, the Director-General explained that these assistance activities were carried out only at the request of member states.
Line of Action 4 - Promoting Pluralist Democracy and Good Governance
Local and regional democracy
39. The Director-General explained that these activities, as well as constituting the normal intergovernmental programme of work relating to local and regional democracy, included the intergovernmental framework for the follow-up to the proposals of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
2004/DG1/121 Sound institutional framework for local and regional democracy
2004/DG1/122 Quality local and regional governance
2004/DG1/173 Transfrontier Co-operation
40. The Secretariat, Mr Blair, Director of Cooperation for Local and Regional Democracy, explained that in this line of action, as in other parts of the intergovernmental programme, certain reductions had been necessary to make room for the activities in the Action Plan. In the light of the decisions of the recent Ministerial Conference held in Budapest in February 2005, which had undertaken a framework planning for all activities in this field, it had been considered that savings in the field of transfrontier cooperation would be least problematical. This was also justified by the fact that there was increasing activity on the part of the EU in the field of cross-border co-operation, as part of its new neighbourhood policy. The Council of Europe could rely on that work and in a couple of fields it would have the possibility for Joint Programmes with the EU. However, in general, the work on transfrontier co-operation would be limited to legal standards and to some promotion of existing legal instruments.
41. One delegation stated that it would have comments on transfrontier cooperation during the budget discussions.
42. Another delegation stressed that it had been concerned that activities in this field would disappear and was pleased to note that was not the case.
43. A further delegation stressed the importance its authorities attached to transfrontier cooperation, and referred to the recommendations of the Ministerial Conference in Budapest. This was a priority for which sufficient appropriations should be made.
44. Germany referred to its written comments under this Line of action (document CM(2005)142 Add 2).
45. The Director regretted that the figure zero had been indicated on page 137 of the draft programme of activities for 2006 under “steering committees and other supervisory bodies”. This led to confusion: the planned activities in this field required the continuation of the CDLR, the costs of which had been included under the project transfrontier cooperation. The figure indicated there was thus considerably inflated. The appropriation for the CDLR was accordingly not forgotten, but had been included in a confusing place.
It was true that in the Budapest agenda, transfrontier cooperation was indicated as one of several priorities; nevertheless as had been the case in other areas, it had been necessary to make painful decisions as to where cuts could be made. In reply to a question asked by a delegation on the cost of the Centre of Expertise on Local and Regional Government Reform, he replied that apart from the operational appropriation indicated, 169 400 euros, the rest of the amount for the centre was to be found under staff expenditure and recharged services.
Line of Action 5 - Technological development, Human Dignity and Democracy
Bioethics, biomedicine and genetics - 2004/DG1/129 Bioethics
46. The Director-General stated that the Convention on Bioethics remained the only binding instrument in this field in the world. Three protocols to the Convention had been elaborated and presently a further protocol on human genetics was under elaboration by the CDBI. After that a recommendation on research on human biological materials would be finalised.
47. One delegation underlined its strong support of the CDBI and expressed the hope that this committee would receive sufficient funding to be able to carry out its work.
* * *
48. The Chairman concluded that a detailed report would be submitted to the RAP-PROG.
49. One delegation stated that it wished to include activities in the field of standards for democratic elections in the Programme of activities.
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1703 (2005) on protection and assistance for separated children seeking asylum – Draft reply
50. The Group examined the draft reply contained in document GR-J(2005)15 as well as a number of proposals for amendments made by the Belgian delegation and contained in document DD(2005)622: It agreed to use the latter document as the basis for its discussion. Having examined the text, the Group agreed to transmit it to the Deputies for adoption without further discussion at their 944th meeting (2 November 2005) with a number of amendments indicated in document CM/AS(2005)Rec1703 prov.
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1704 (2005) on referendums: towards good practices in Europe – Draft reply
51. The Group examined the draft reply contained in document GR-J(2005)16 as well as a proposal made by the Chairman and distributed in the meeting (document DD(2005)627). Having examined the text, the Group agreed to transmit it to the Deputies for adoption without further discussion at their 945th meeting (9 November 2005) with a couple of amendments indicated in document CM/AS(2005)Rec1704 prov.
Any other business
Date of the next meeting
52. The next meeting would take place on Thursday, 8 December 2005 at 10 am.
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.