Ministers' Deputies/ Working Parties
Working Party on Institutional Reforms
GT-REF.INST(2006)7 19 September 20061
Rationalisation of intergovernmental committees
Draft conclusions of the Chair (on the basis of his informal consultations)
Item to be considered by the GT-REF.INST at its meeting on 20 September 2006
1. As part of the implementation of Section V of the Action Plan, the GT-REF.INST has, among other things, considered possible ways of rationalising the work of the intergovernmental committees of experts which are the pillar of the Council of Europe’s standard-setting activities.
I. Starting point2
2. In 2006, 30 steering committees, ad hoc committees and the like (reporting directly to the Committee of Ministers) and 53 subordinate committees were active.
3. It should be noted that virtually all of these bodies were set up under a decision in due form by the Committee of Ministers.
4. The terms of reference of two ad hoc committees and 45 subordinate committees are due to expire on 31 December 2006.
5. The 2007 draft Programme of Activities [doc.CM(2006)146 Volume II of 7.9.06] proposes that new tasks be assigned to 27 of them, and to three new bodies, which would already represent a decrease of 17 in the number of committees (36%).
II. Suggested procedure
6. It is suggested that the renewal or approval of each of these terms of reference (steering committees, ad hoc committees or subordinate committees) be considered by the Committee of Ministers (after the relevant rapporteur group has given its opinion) in direct conjunction with the discussion of the Programme of Activities, in order to take more precise account of the Council of Europe’s standard-setting work in all the Organisation’s major areas of concern In the event of a disagreement, decisions would be taken according to the rules set out in Article 20d of the Statute.
7. To allow a better assessment of the value of the proposed activities, terms of reference should comply with the terms of Resolution Res(2005)47, under which the presentation of terms of reference must include an evaluation of the relevance of the project3. It is further suggested that this presentation should also include an assessment of the value added, i.e. the relative advantage of carrying out the project at the Council of Europe as opposed to other international forums, and the suitability of the committee concerned in relation to other Council of Europe committees.
8. To make it easier for the Committee of Ministers to take decisions on terms of reference, it would be convenient if their expiry dates were to coincide as far as possible.
9. Generally speaking, it would be useful if each steering committee, ad hoc committee or the like was made aware of the obligation to focus its activities on topics falling within the scope of the Council of Europe’s priority aims. In a similar vein, it is essential that each of these committees should make a critical appraisal of its work over the last few years. The message of the Committee of Ministers to committees involved in intergovernmental co-operation at the Council of Europe [CM-SUIVI3(2006)18] could meet these needs and should be translated into action.
III. General measures
10. All the provisions of the resolution on committees and subordinate bodies, their terms of reference and working methods [Res(2005)47] must be applied.
11. In this connection, it should be noted in particular, but not exclusively, that the rapporteur groups may invite steering committee chairs to discuss the evaluation of activities and present work in progress and the prospects for future activities in line with the Organisation’s priorities.
12. The rules on reimbursement of travel and subsistence expenses vary greatly from one subordinate committee to another, depending on the steering committee to which they are subordinate. It would seem desirable if the least expensive model were universally adopted.
13. All committees should make as much use as possible of electronic means of communication in order to reduce the number of meetings and participation in them.
14. Other proposed measures, in particular from the outside expert appointed by the Secretary General4, will be considered by the GT-REF.INST in due course.
IV. Specific measures
15. Several suggestions have been made concerning specific areas of intergovernmental co-operation:
- Transfer of the activities of the Committee of Experts to study organisational aspects of cooperation in organ transplantation (SP-CTO), Committee of Experts on Blood Transfusion (SP-HM), Committee of Experts on Quality Assurance in blood transfusion services (SP-GS) and Committee of Experts on safety and quality assurance for organs, tissues and cells (SP-SQA) to the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines (EDQM).
- Transfer of the activities of the Ad hoc Committee for the Agreement on Sport (CAHAS) to a partial agreement for sport.
- Halving of the four subordinate committees to the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR).
- Setting up of a single committee responsible for childhood and children (merger of the Committee of Experts on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse (PC-ES), the Committee on Experts on Children and Families (CS-EF) and the new committee on parenting (proposed by DG III).
- New distribution of responsibilities between the subordinate committees to the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ).
- Reassessment of the value of the work of Committee of Experts on issues relating to the Protection of National Minorities (DH-MIN).
- Simplification and more precise aims of committees dealing with migration.
- Merger of Steering Committee for Culture (CD-CULT) and Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage (CD-PAT).
- Setting up (possibly as a result of the White Paper currently in preparation) of a co-ordinating committee on intercultural dialogue (on the model of Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER) for terrorism).
- Question of retaining the “environment” field at the Council of Europe.
16. The relevant rapporteur groups are asked to consider these proposals in order to prepare the decisions of the Committee of Ministers on the future programmes of activities.
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 Starting point: 2006 data on the basis of the document GT-REF.INST(2006)5 revised.
Note 3 “relevance to the core values of the Council of Europe and the decisions adopted by the Committee of Ministers”
4 . The Director of Strategic Planning presented the terms of reference for the study on the efficiency and effectiveness of committees under the Programme of Activities of the Council of Europe (Vote II) (DD(2006)437) at the meeting of the GT-REF.INST on 11 July 2006.
In November 2005, the Standing Committee was invited to consider the Elaboration of a European Charter on Hunting dealing with all relevant aspects of hunting and wildlife conservation. The Standing Committee took note of Assembly Recommendation 1689 and of the Committee of Ministers’ reply and decided to set up a group of experts to prepare the European Charter on hunting and biodiversity. The Group met on 10 March 2006 and the second meeting is due to be held on 11 September 2006.
Note In addition to this list, Bureaus of Steering and Ad Hoc Committees
Note No terms of reference