Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group for Social and Health Questions
GR-SOC(2006)CB2 27 March 20061
Meeting of 21 March 2006
1. The Rapporteur Group on Social and Health Questions (GR-SOC), chaired by Ambassador Alexei Tulbure, Permanent Representative of Moldova, discussed the following items in the light of the notes on the agenda (document GR-SOC(2006)4).
1. Communication by the Director General of DG III
2. The Director General of DGIII gave a presentation of the main recent activities of DG III and those planned for the coming months. The text of the communication was circulated after the presentation (see document DD(2006)162). Delegations welcomed the very full information given on current activities.
2. European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) – 2005 report on activities, by Mr Rudko Kawczynski (President of the Forum)
Document “European Roma and Travellers Forum - First Annual Report”
3. The President of the Roma and Travellers’ Forum gave a presentation of the Forum’s activities since the signature of the Partnership Agreement with the Council of Europe on 15 December 2004 and the opening of its office located in the Council of Europe’s premises in February 2005. The information given may be consulted in the written report and appendices distributed during the meeting and sent electronically to delegations subsequently.
4. The President explained that work during 2005 concerned primarily national elections, organised in 40 European countries, to select national forum representatives to the Forum’s Plenary Assembly. 75 elected delegates from 40 countries as well as representatives of 7 international NGOs had been accepted to date: the Forum now represents more than 12 million Roma and Travellers in Europe. It is the only international Roma and Traveller organisation to unite NGOs, political parties, religious institutions and other types of representatives in one forum.
5. Efforts were also deployed in 2005, especially among the 20 founding members and by the office in Strasbourg, to make the Forum known internationally. Information was disseminated in Romani, English, French and nine other national languages to the widest possible range of Roma organisations. The Forum’s office distributed information to over 2 000 Roma and Traveller organisations and made information available through its multilingual website and well-known national and other international Roma websites. Young people worked as volunteer “Information Points” for the Forum in different countries. In July 2005 the Forum produced a “Manual to Participation in the ERTF”, available in English, French, Romani and Russian).
6. Some governments offered essential cooperation to the Roma organisations in their country in preparing the meetings to establish national representation: Romania in particular gave strong support, and Finnish and Swedish governmental support to local Roma in holding such meetings was also mentioned.
7. Progress with the Forum’s cooperation and consultation with Council of Europe specialised bodies, leading to observer status with a number of them, had enabled dialogue to be initiated with a wide range of Council of Europe institutions. These include the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the Framework Convention for National Minorities, the Group of Specialists on Housing Policies for Social Cohesion (CS-HO), the Group of Specialists on Roma, Gypsies and Travellers (MG-S-ROM), the relevant Parliamentary Assembly Committees, the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, the European Committee for Social Cohesion, the Congress, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the Committee of Experts on Issues Relating to the Protection of National Minorities (DH-MIN).
8. The President of the Forum also took part in the Council of Europe’s mission to Kosovo on 22-23 August 2005, whose main purpose was to examine the situation in Mitrovica and the measures to avoid further exposure of the residents of the Roma refugee camp to lead poisoning.
9. The Forum, although it had met with some administrative, human resources and financing difficulties, had achieved much during its first year of cooperation with the Council of Europe, and would continue to build on this cooperation in 2006 and beyond, in accordance with the Partnership Agreement.
10. Delegations welcomed the presentation and expressed their strong appreciation of the work accomplished during the first year of the Forum’s activity. Questions were asked about the future activities of the Forum, and about cooperation with other international organisations.  Several delegations stated that clearly defined projects and lines of action would serve as a good basis for requests for financial contributions from member states.
11. The President of the Roma and Travellers’ Forum thanked Delegations for their interest and encouragement, and gave a brief outline of priorities for the coming year. Once the Strasbourg office was well established, the development of directorates and commissions would be furthered. The second priority would be work in the field with respect to the some 200 000 displaced Roma from Kosovo. The serious problems of returnees, including their security, was an area in which the Forum could play an important role of mediation, in cooperation with ODIHR. Other priorities included the establishment of the national forums, education and schools, and the development of relations with the European Commission, especially in view of the migration problems engendered in some countries during the period of European Union enlargement. The living conditions of Roma in one member state were also a cause for concern, and more information on the population in this country needed to be collected.
12. The Human Rights Commissioner’s report was a good basis for work in several areas. A coordination committee would be set up to form a link with Council of Europe bodies and with other international organisations: meetings of the committee would be held at least every three months. The political programme of the Roma Decade was important, and the President stated the commitment of the Forum to a Roma Decade with Roma, not without them. Contacts with the European Union were being made, but progress was slow as this organisation was less “human rights oriented”. The aim of the Forum is to offer assistance to national governments and international institutions and to offer its political support.
13. The Chair of the GR-SOC thanked the President of the Forum for his detailed and interesting presentation of the impressive work carried out in 2005.
3. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1718 (2005): “Co-development policy as a positive measure to regulate migratory flows”
14. One Delegation had submitted an amendment to the draft reply, which was accepted by the Group. It was agreed to transmit the amended text to the Deputies for adoption without debate at their 961st meeting (5 April 006).
4. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1725 (2005): “Europe and bird flu – preventive measures in the health field”
15. The Group approved the draft reply, agreeing to transmit the text to the Deputies for adoption without debate at their 961st meeting (5 April 2006).
5. European Health Committee (CDSP) – Abridged report of the 58th meeting (Strasbourg, 15-16 November 2005)
Feasibility study on the transfer of blood transfusion and organ transplant activities to a partial agreement as proposed by the Secretary General
16. Delegations raised questions on the progress with this study - who was carrying out the study, according to which criteria and would the study be completed in good time for the 2007 budget discussions?
17. The Director General of Social Cohesion stated that the Paris consultants selected had held two meetings so far – one with the Chairs of the expert groups concerned (the Committee of Experts to study organisational aspects of cooperation in organ transplantation (SP-CTO), the Committee of Experts on Blood Transfusion (SP-HM) and the European Health Committee (CDSP)) and the second with the Bureau of the SP-CTO. After a second meeting with the SP-HM, the consultants would submit a draft study to the CDSP Bureau at its April meeting, after which the final feasibility study report, containing recommendations as to which partial agreement(s) the activities should be transferred, would be prepared by mid-May, in good time for the budget discussions.
18. One Delegation, supported by others, considered that there appeared to be a contradiction between the abridged report which stated that the CDSP was not in favour of the transfer, and the feasibility study which appeared to take the transfer as a basis for its recommendations, which would only concern its practical implementation. At any event, the study should be completed as rapidly as possible and should be presented as a final document to the CDSP Bureau meeting in April so that it might make recommendations to the Deputies. The Director General of Social Cohesion regretted that some Delegations did not consider further consultation in the CDSP Bureau on the study was necessary before finalising the report.
Implementation of the strategic approach to (public) health-related activities
19. In answer to requests by Delegations for further information, the Secretariat explained that two meetings had been held, on 6 December 2005 and 27 February 2006, with the Secretariat of the CDSP, the CDBI, the CD-P-SP, the EDQM and the Pompidou Group. A number of synergies had been identified, relating to genetics, health in prisons and drugs, for instance.
Terms of reference of the Committee of experts on developing a Council of Europe mental health reference tool
20. One Delegation stated that the terms of reference lacked somewhat in focus and clarity. Another Delegation added that the activities in this sector did not reflect sufficiently the priorities given by the Third Summit. The Secretariat explained that the study of mental health was a new activity: the creation of the group of experts was part of the direct follow-up to implement the Action Plan adopted at the Helsinki WHO Conference of European Health Ministers in January 2005, in which the Council of Europe and the European Commission were closely involved. In an effort to divide the work between the three organisations, it had been decided that WHO would focus on mental health care services, the European Commission on health promotion and disease prevention in relation to mental health, and the Council of Europe on the ethical and human right issues related to mental health problems.
21. Summing up the debate, the Chair proposed that the wording “took note of the abridged report in the light of the comments made by the GR-SOC at its meeting of 21 March 2006” be added to the draft decision put before the Deputies at their 959th meeting on the following day, 22 March. One Delegation stated that it might propose more explicit text concerning the question of the feasibility study at the 959th meeting. Another Delegation reserved its position pending further information on how the CDSP proposes to implement the provisions of the Warsaw Summit Action Plan in the health sector.2
6. Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field – Public Health Committee (Partial Agreement) (CD-P-SP) – Abridged Report of the 76th session (Strasbourg, 17 November 2005)
CM(2006)33, CM(2006)33 corrigendum
22. One Delegation raised questions about the relationship with the core activities of the Council of Europe of the specialised activities of certain groups of experts whose terms of reference were appended to the abridged report. The same Delegation wished to have further information on the viewpoint of the members of the CD-P-SP on the possible transfer of blood-related activities to the partial agreement, and on the number of countries participating in the expert groups whose terms of reference were appended to the report. The Director General of Social Cohesion explained that the partial agreement would, in the case of a transfer add the activities to its existing ones. He agreed to supply information on the expert groups’ composition at a later date.
23. The Group agreed to bring the report to the attention of the Deputies, in their composition restricted to the member states of the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field at their 961st meeting on 5 April, where they would be invited to take note of it and the terms of reference without further debate.
7. Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with Disabilities (Partial Agreement) (CD-P-RR) – Abridged report of the 28th meeting (Strasbourg, 18-21 October 2005) – Follow-up to the Third Summit: draft resolution on a Disability Action Plan
CM(2006)34, CM(2006)34 Addendum
24. The Director General of Social Cohesion introduced the item, underlining that the Disability Action Plan, if adopted, could be launched at the Conference on Disability to be held in autumn 2006 in St. Petersburg.
25. Delegations welcomed and supported the Action Plan, which represented a major step forward in a priority area for most member states. They expressed their thanks to the CD-P-RR for a comprehensive and far-reaching document. They also supported the principle of the extension of the Disability Action Plan to all member states.
26. However, many Delegations expressed concern with respect to the implementation of the Plan in all member states through the CD-P-RR, a committee restricted to member states of the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field. In the terms of reference of the committee responsible for overseeing implementation and follow-up, member states not members of the partial agreement could participate but would not have the right to vote.
27. The Director General of Social Cohesion explained that the committees were never called to vote on issues, as they operated in practice by consensus. The CD-P-RR had ensured a stock-taking role for many years now in relation to disability policies in all member states, and could continue to do so in the future. One Delegation, supported by others, suggested that follow-up could be ensured by the European Committee on Social Cohesion (CDCS). At all events, this matter required further reflection before the adoption of a recommendation applying to all member states.
28. The Chair of the Group concluded the discussions on this item by proposing to hold informal consultations, in order to find a satisfactory solution to enable the adoption of the Disability Action Plan, if possible at the 961st meeting (5 April), or otherwise at the 962nd meeting on 26 April.
8. European Committee on Migration (CDMG) – Draft terms of reference of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on unaccompanied migrant minors (life projects) (MG-S-MNA)
29. The Representative of the Netherlands stated that his country wished to participate in the ad hoc advisory group, and that the travel and subsistence expenses of the expert selected would be borne by the Netherlands Government. The Group agreed to this proposal and approved the terms of reference, on the understanding that an amendment would be made to add the Netherlands to the list of nine countries represented in the advisory group before submission to the Ministers’ Deputies for adoption at their 961st meeting (5 April).
9. Any other business
10. Date of the next meeting
Tuesday, 9 May 2006 at 10 a.m.
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.
Note 2 CM/Del/Dec(2006)959/6.1 : two additional decisions were proposed and adopted on these issues.