Ministers' Deputies/ Working Parties
GT-REF.INST
Working Party on Institutional Reforms

GT-REF.INST(2008)CB3 2 April 20081
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Synopsis
Meeting of 27 March 2008

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The Working Party on Institutional Reforms (GT-REF.INST), chaired by Ambassador Judit József, Permanent Representative of Hungary, examined the following items in the light of draft annotated agenda GT-REF.INST(2008)8.

1. Follow-up to the Third Summit (Warsaw, 16-17 May 2005) –
Implementation of the Action Plan, Chapter V – Progress report

1.1. The Chair recalled that, at the 117th session of the Committee of Ministers (Strasbourg, 10-11 May 2007) the Ministers took note of the report by their Deputies on the work accomplished on the reform process of the Council of Europe’s organisational structures and working methods (cf. document CM(2007)46 final). The Ministers reaffirmed the importance they attach to the reform process and instructed the Deputies and the Secretary General to make increased efforts centred on measures for greater cost efficiency, effectiveness, internal co-operation and transparency. They asked their Deputies to prepare a comprehensive report on the reform process for their 118th Session in May 2008. Against that background, the group examined the progress report set out in document GT-REF.INST(2008)6 on the implementation of Chapter V of the Warsaw Action Plan. Delegations made a number of suggestions for further improving the text, including:

- develop the political relevance of both the introduction and the conclusions;

- bring together future measures under part 4 “Perspectives”;

- append an updated roadmap, as was done in last year’s report, which would give a better overall view and timeframe of the reform measures in the framework of Chapter V;

- a cautious approach to mentioning measures for which the Committee of Ministers has received little or no information or which are mainly internal matters (for example, mobility policy and the implementation plan in part 4 “Perspectives”);

- a number of paragraphs need to be streamlined, clarified or put in perspective (for example, on rationalisation of organisations structures, on internal reporting requirements, on the job classification exercise, on training, on regulatory framework) and the text balanced as a whole;

- focus measures concerning monitoring on improved coordination and cooperation and making better use of the results;

- take a cautious approach to referring to the medium term strategy or only mention it if of clear relevance to Chapter V;

- refer to the importance of change management to support the reform process.

more could be done to enhance transparency, in particular concerning dialogue and interaction with civil society and improving access for the public to Council of Europe documents as well as highlighting internal knowledge sharing and cost efficiency measures.

1.2. The Chair invited the Secretariat to prepare a revised text in the light of comments made which the group would examine at its next meeting. She invited delegations to submit any amendments they might have on the revised version in writing before the meeting.

1.3. With regard to the specific question of the possible merger of DGIII and DGIV, the Chair proposed a draft decision under this item, with a view to reconciling the various views expressed. The group agreed – ad referendum2 with a deadline set at 5pm on 31 March 2008 – to the wording of the following draft decision:

    The Deputies invited the Secretary General to pursue efforts to streamline the Secretariat, in particular by preparing before the end of 2008 proposals for the possible restructuring of DGIII and DGIV, taking also into account relevant lessons drawn from the restructuring of DGI and DGII.

which would be transmitted to the Deputies for adoption along with the progress report on the implementation of Chapter V, once approved.

2. - Study on the efficiency and effectiveness of committees
(GT-REF.INST(2008)3 and DD(2007)548)
- Study on staff/activities ratio and working methods
(GT-REF.INST(2008)2 and DD(2007)547)

2.1. The group continued its examination of this item on the basis of the draft decisions proposed by the Chair by letter of 14 March 2008 (cf. the annotated agenda) and in the light of amendments proposed by one delegation during the meeting (cf. DD(2008)175). The group agreed – ad referendum2 with a deadline set at 5pm on 31 March 2008 – to transmit the draft decisions, as amended during the discussion to ensure the representation of the diversity of views of member states in the work of committees, to pursue efforts to streamline the Secretariat, and to be kept informed of the follow-up to the study on staff/activities and working methods (cf. DD(2008)178), to the Deputies for adoption at their 1024th meeting (23 April 2008).

2.2. With regard to the specific issue of the restructuring of DGIII and DGIV which had been raised during the discussions under this item at the group’s last meeting and continued at the present meeting, the group agreed to the Chair’s proposal to include a specific decision on this matter for the Deputes when adopting the progress report on Chapter V (see item 1 above).

2.3. With regard to the decision n° 3, last indent, on communication issues, it was agreed that the decision referred in particular to the following aspects:

- to invite member states to nominate the most qualified committee members;
- to improve communication of existing rules and instruments adopted by the Committee of Ministers to experts and within the Secretariat;
- to improve transparency by access of Permanent Representations to detailed meeting reports of the expert committees on-line (with CM site passwords);
- to facilitate the understanding of the work of the steering committees by introducing some changes into the report format (short summary, clearer presentation of member states' positions);
- to facilitate the communication flow between the different steering committees, in order to ensure complementarity and transversality of their work.

3. Any other business

-

4. Date of the next meeting

Tuesday, 29 April 2008 at 3 p.m.

The Chair intends to hold, if necessary, informal consultations before that date on the basis of a revised text of the progress report on the implementation of Chapter V (to be distributed on 9 April 2008) and any amendments received from delegations, if possible, before 18 April 2008.

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.
Note 2 No objections were received.


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