Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation
GR-J(2007)CB3 13 April 20071
Meeting of 5 April 2007
1. The Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation (GR-J) met on 5 April 2007, with Mr Bruno GAIN, Permanent Representative of France, in the Chair. The agenda (GR-J(2007)OJ3) was adopted with item 17/07 being postponed to the next meeting, with the understanding that the Hungarian delegation would make a statement at the present meeting.
12/07 Message of the Committee of Ministers to committees involved in intergovernmental co-operation at the Council of Europe – contributions from the Committees working in the legal field on the implement of the Warsaw Action Plan
2. In introducing this item the Chair explained that the Group was invited to examine the contributions submitted in response to the message of the Committee of Ministers, by the committees involved in intergovernmental co-operation to implement the Warsaw Action Plan in the legal field (see document GR-J(2007)3). In the light of the discussions, the Chair, in cooperation with the Secretariat, would prepare a concise text to be transmitted to the Follow-up Committee on the Third Summit (CM-SUIVI3) for inclusion in the report on the implementation of the Warsaw Action Plan, to be prepared for the 117th ministerial Session in May.
3. The Chair observed that all the committees active in the legal field had made their contributions, and pointed out that these activities were among the priorities set at the Third Summit in Warsaw. He noted, however, that the presentation of the contributions was not uniform, which made comparison difficult.
4. In the ensuing discussion the delegations congratulated the committees on their work on the implementation of the Action Plan, particularly the Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law (CAHDI), the Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER), the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), the Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI), the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ), the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE) and the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR).
5. The Secretariat explained that the object was to critically appraise the work of these committees, particularly in terms of its relevance to the Organisation’s core values and the added value it generated.
6. The Chair informed the Group that all the comments made during the discussion would be taken into account in the report he would be preparing with the Secretariat for transmission to the CM-SUIVI3.
7. One delegation, seconded by others, asked whether the Group would have an opportunity to examine the report before it was sent on to the CM-SUIVI3.
8. As the next meeting of the GR-J would be held in June, the Chair proposed that the Group examine the report by written consultation before it was forwarded to the CM-SUIVI 3. This was agreed.
13/07 European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) – Draft European Convention on the adoption of children (revised) – Invitation to the Parliamentary Assembly to give an opinion
9. The Chair said that the Group had received a proposal to submit the draft Convention to the Parliamentary Assembly for opinion. He Also noted that the United Kingdom delegation had circulated a document containing comments on the draft Convention (DD(2007)187). Following these comments, the Chair had had the draft explanatory report distributed.
10. The United Kingdom delegation explained that there was inconsistency between Article 2 of the draft Convention and paragraph 22 of the explanatory report. It requested that its comments be included in the synopsis and sent to the Assembly together with the draft text and explanatory report. (The comments of the United Kingdom delegation are appended to this document.)
11. While a number of delegations supported the comments made, some delegations were opposed to the procedure proposed, as the Assembly was to give its opinion only on the draft Convention.
12. The Secretariat pointed out that the decision to be taken presently was only whether to submit the draft Convention to the Assembly. There was no reason why the explanatory report should not also be sent, in order to provide the Assembly with more information about the draft Convention, it being understood that the Assembly’s opinion was sought on the draft Convention only. The Secretariat hoped that the Convention would be opened for signature at the Conference of Ministers of Justice in Lanzarote in October 2007 and felt that it was preferable to wait for the Assembly’s opinion before taking any further steps such as referring the text back to the CDCJ.
13. The Chair proposed to send the draft Convention, together with the explanatory report to the Assembly for opinion, and to refer to the problems of consistency between Article 2 of the draft Convention and paragraph 22 of the explanatory report in the synopsis of the meeting. Meanwhile, the Secretariat would draw the attention of the Chair of the CDCJ to the concerns voiced on this subject by the delegations at the meeting.
14. After discussion, and bearing in mind the aim to open the Convention for signature in Lanzarote in October 2007, the Group accepted the Chair’s proposal and transmitted the draft Convention and the explanatory report to the Ministers' Deputies for adoption of the relevant decisions, as set forth in document CM/Notes/993/10.2 rev2, without further debate, at their 993rd meeting (11 April 2007).
14/07 Draft reply to the Recommendation 197 (2006) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on urban security in Europe
15. The GR-J examined the draft reply drawn up by the Secretariat (CM/Cong(2007)Rec197 prov). One delegation expressed reservations about the final paragraph of the draft reply. The Chair noted that the Group approved the draft text with one amendment (see document CM/Cong(2007)Rec197prov2.) and agreed to submit it to the Deputies at their 995th meeting (16 May 2007), with a view to its adoption without further debate.
15/07 European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages – Election of a member of the Committee of Experts in respect of the Czech Republic
16. The GR-J examined the candidatures presented by the Czech Republic (document CM(2007)37) on the basis of document GR-J(2004)2rev, in which it had laid down its criteria for examining candidatures to the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and agreed to forward the list to the Deputies for the election.
16/07 European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages – Election of a member of the Committee of Experts in respect of Slovenia
The GR-J examined the candidatures presented by Slovenia (document CM(2007)41) on the basis of document GR-J(2004)2rev, in which it had laid down its criteria for examining candidatures to the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and agreed to forward the list to the Deputies for the election.
17/07 European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages – Third report of the Committee of Experts in respect of Hungary
18. The Group agreed to defer this item until its next meeting. However, the Hungarian delegation made the following statement:
“Concerning the third report of the Committee of Experts in respect of Hungary, the Hungarian authorities would like to thank the Committee of Experts for the document. We appreciate highly the work of this expert body, with whom we have had a very good cooperation on the ground. Coming to the report itself, I would like to draw the attention to the Comments of Hungary contained in Appendix II, which highlights recent significant developments in connection with the opinion. Regarding the recommendations of the Committee, my authorities consider that they reflect adequately what was the situation two years ago, although some clarifications would be welcome. I have two precisions to make on recommendation number 3 and 6. Regarding recommendation 3, the report of Hungary has informed the Committee in detail about the steps taken by the government to promote bilingual education. However, the demand for bilingual education from the side of the communities concerned evidently should be taken into account and the government has only limited means of influence. Regarding recommendation 6, we would like to remark that although the institutions that have been transferred to the administration of the minority self-governments are already fully financed by the central budget, the government is willing to further facilitate the process of transferal.”
18/07 European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages – Third report of the Committee of Experts in respect of Norway
19. The Group examined the third report of the Committee of experts in respect of Norway and the draft recommendation contained in document CM(2007)43. The Group agreed to forward the report to the Deputies for adoption of the draft decisions at their 995th meeting (16 May 2007) without further debate.
11/07 The Legal question raised by a delegation concerning the use of the expression “Committee of Ministers in its composition limited to representatives of members” [of a partial agreement]
20. The Group was invited to examine the legal question raised by one delegation concerning the use of the expression the “Committee of Ministers in its composition restricted to the States members [of a Partial Agreement]”, on the basis of a document GR-J(2007)2 prepared by the Secretariat recalling the decision-making process in Partial Agreements.
21. The Secretariat presented document GR-J(2007)2, which recalls precisely the legal framework of the Partial and Enlarged Agreements. Particular reference was made to Resolution (51)62, and to statutory Resolution (93)28 on Partial and Enlarged Agreements.
22. The Spanish delegation thanked the Secretariat for the document. Recalling articles 13, 14 and 17 of the Statute, it pointed out that the Council of Europe functioned on a very similar basis to the European Union. It retraced the history of the partial agreements and, in particular, the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field, which, in its opinion, had been drawn up without taking the Statute of the Council of Europe into account. The Spanish delegation also pointed out that, in its view, there was a lack of consistency between Resolution 51(62) and Resolutions 59(23) and 93(28). In its opinion the partial agreements had never been used properly. The Spanish delegation proposed drafting a new resolution to regularise all the partial agreements a posteriori and make them compatible with Resolution 93(28).
23. Some delegations fully agreed with the reasoning laid down in the document prepared by the Secretariat and saw no need for any action in this respect.
24. Summarising the discussion, the Chair asked the Spanish delegation to send the texts concerned to the Secretariat and submit a memorandum summarising its arguments, so that the discussion could be resumed at a later meeting.
Any other business
Date of the next meeting
25. The next meeting would be held on 12 June 2007 at 10 a.m.
UK Comments on the draft European Convention on the adoption of children (revised)
Article 2 of the draft Convention excludes children who have been married from the scope of the Convention, but not those who have entered into a registered partnership. This is left to paragraph 22 of the Explanatory Report. However, it is not sufficient to alter the scope of the Convention by comment in the Report because the Report does not have substantive effect.
The UK believes that there is an important equality issue here. Whilst the UK accepts that there may be States that do not provide for persons under the age of 18 to enter into a registered partnership, registered partnerships should be treated in like terms to marriage in those States that do so provide. The UK fully agrees with the position in paragraph 22 of the Explanatory Report, and notes the explicit alignment of registered partnerships and marriage in Articles 7 and 11 of the Convention.
The UK therefore suggests that Article 2 be amended to read “… is not and has not been married, is not in and has not entered into a registered partnership and has not reached majority.
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.