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

GT-REF.INST(2009)1 final 9 April 20091
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Survey of Steering and Ad hoc Committees
Overview of the survey of six steering and ad hoc committees whose terms of reference expire in 2009

Document2 prepared by the Directorate of Strategic Planning

Item considered by the GT-REF.INST at its meeting on 9 April 2009


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Introduction

1. In the context of the work on the rationalisation of intergovernmental committees
(GT-REF.INST(2008)CB6), the Deputies decided at their 1041st meeting, on 19 November 2008, to launch a pilot survey of intergovernmental steering and ad hoc committees (CM/Del/Dec(2008)1041/1.9). A questionnaire was prepared by GT-REF.INST and approved by the Deputies.

2. The Chair of the Committee of Ministers sent a letter to members of the steering and ad hoc committees, along with a questionnaire (CM(2008)174). For the pilot phase of the survey, six committees whose terms of reference expire in 2009 were chosen: the CCJE, CDLR, CAHPAH, CDBI, CDCULT and CDED.

3. This document presents the key results, conclusions and recommendations of the survey. The appendices contain: a thematic summary, question by question (Appendix 1); a summary of the replies broken down by committee appears (Appendix 2); an overview of replies in table format (Appendix 3); and, in order to take advantage of the lessons learned from the pilot exercise for the purposes of a further survey of committees, some suggestions for improvements to the questionnaire (Appendix 4).

4. Those responding to the survey (on average 40%) expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the committees’ work and achievements. A large majority of correspondents consider that the committees' work is useful when it comes to drafting national legislation and triggering public debate. The survey confirms that the Council of Europe provides added value on account of its human rights perspective, its broad geographical coverage, which includes non-EU states, its multi-stakeholder approach, the binding nature of its legal instruments and the fact that it disseminates good practice.

5. The survey also provides some material for further discussion by the committees themselves and by the Committee of Ministers. The ideas and recommendations presented in this document could be examined from three angles:

    a) a specifically committee-related perspective, with a view to further improvements in each committee’s working methods,
    b) a (cross-cutting) question-related angle, to obtain a better understanding of general issues concerning all the committees, and
    c) with regard to relevance and added value in enabling the Council of Europe to take its rightful place among other international organisations.

Key results

6. There is general satisfaction with the committees’ work and results, which are considered useful for the purposes of drafting national legislation or triggering public debate. The explicit expertise of the committees in providing the member states with knowledge and spreading good practice in their specific fields of activity is emphasised.

7. The survey confirms the added value provided by the Council of Europe on account of its human rights perspective, its broad geographical coverage including non-EU states, the binding nature of its legal instruments and it is multi-stakeholder approach. The committees' work is described as less bureaucratic than the work done by similar bodies in other international organisations. When overlapping of one committee's work with the work carried out by other international organisations is mentioned, the respondents see it positively, in terms of synergy, shared interest and complementarity in respect of key issues - co-operation with these organisations being essential.

8. About 75% of respondents confirm their satisfaction with the system of plenary meetings/ working groups. Some of participating experts consider that a reform of the working methods would be welcome. A large number of members who replied suggest specific improvements to the working methods of their committee, some of which have however already been incorporated into the practical work of the committee.

9. Some committees (representing only a minority) indicate that they would specifically benefit from closer relations with the Committee of Ministers, and notably from improved information flow.

Conclusions

10. The choice of six committees - CCJE, CDLR, CAHPAH, CDBI, CDCULT, CDED - representing intergovernmental work in areas covered by five Rapporteur Groups - provides a broad thematic spectrum for a review of Council of Europe committee work.

11. This exercise complements previous research into committees’ work, in particular the PARTICIP study3. The current survey clearly confirms a number of general concerns and proposals previously identified and throws up some specific comments and suggestions:

    - For a committee to be effective, a minimum of one meeting a year is necessary, while politically sensitive subjects may require two meetings4 a year to allow appropriate consultation with the capitals.
    - The number of topics on the agenda should be reduced to allow enough time for proper consideration. Debates should be more focused and less time devoted to information items during plenary meetings. Experts should be given sufficient notice of planned meeting dates (which could result in shorter meetings).
    - Small group arrangements and specialised/ad hoc meetings could be used to make progress with particular topics, with the agreement of the committee.
    - Documents should be more focused, concise and available in both official languages in good time, to improve communication and allow for timely consultations at national level.
    - Increased use should be made of new information technology for various forms of communication and of exchange by e-mail; documents should be made available on (restricted) websites, which should be regularly updated.
    - Communication between the Bureau and the committee should be improved to bridge long periods between plenary sessions.
    - Ongoing evaluation of committees should be introduced.
    - Member states should improve the language skills of national experts to allow them to take part fully the work, and ensure that relevant documents are translated into national languages. More attention should be paid to the transfer of the results of intergovernmental work to the local level.
    - Heightened contacts between Permanent Representatives and committee members is considered important.

Recommendations

12. While the proposals made in the replies to the current survey are more related to the committees’ working methods, there are some suggestions that could serve as additional input for the preparation of new terms of reference. The sending of the (improved) questionnaire to steering and ad hoc committees one year before the end of their terms of reference could be an appropriate occasion for doing this, as the answering exercise affords members the opportunity to evaluate the committee’s working methods and achievements and propose further improvements if the terms of reference are renewed. For the purposes of questionnaire follow-up, a procedure involving an annual survey of steering and ad hoc committees whose the terms of reference expire could be recommended.

***

Appendix 1 to the overview of the survey of six steering and ad hoc committees whose the terms of reference expire in 2009

Assessment by question

Question 1: Has the committee's work been useful in view of the elaboration of the national legislation (laws, regulations, and directives) and/or public debate?

13. A large majority of respondents consider the committees' work useful when it comes to elaborating national legislation and/or triggering public debate (93% positive replies to Q1). It has been taken into account when devising national legislation, strategies and specific action plans on particular issues. Numerous concrete examples are given in the replies. The committees’ texts/opinions are referred to by the media and are directly used in public debate. The committees are seen as fora for sharing information, experience and knowledge.

Negative replies to this question were given by respondents from countries where national legislation in the relevant field was already well established or where such legislation was not an issue. Nonetheless, the value of the committees’ work for the purposes of public debate is highlighted by these respondents.

Question 2: Was the committee’s work useful in your country for professionals dealing with questions falling within the committee's competence?

14. The committees’ work is considered useful for professionals dealing with questions falling within the committees’ sphere of competence by a large majority of respondents (94 % positive replies to Q2). It helps to raise awareness amongst professionals and keeps them informed about topics of interest to them. The committees' work is used in training programmes for professionals in the various fields concerned. Moreover, it influences the content of codes of ethics in a number of countries.

Language may be a barrier as not all professionals can easily use documents in English or French. In addition, although the committees’ work is helpful for professionals at national level, some difficulties have been met to transfer Council of Europe work from central government in capital cities to the regions and municipalities. More attention should be paid to the transfer of the results of intergovernmental work to the local level.

Question 3: Do you think there was an overlapping of the work of the Council of Europe in the field of your committee, with the work carried out by other international organisations?

15. According to the majority of respondents (58%), there is no overlap between the work of the Council of Europe and that of other international organisations. Some respondents consider that there is beneficial overlap in terms of synergy, shared interest and co-operation on key issues. Strong complementarity, rather than overlap, is also emphasised. Good co-operation and co-ordination between the Council of Europe and other organisations is assured by the participation of the latter in the committees’ plenary meetings. While it is inevitable that some topics dealt with by the Council of Europe are discussed in other international organisations, the uniqueness of the Council of Europe's work is highlighted and its real added value is stressed by a very large majority of respondents. The working methods of committees that involve decision-makers, experts and practitioners seem particularly effective.

16. The answers to this question show that each committee has its own views on the subject.

CCJE: There is virtually no overlap between the work of the Council of Europe in the field covered by the CCJE and the work carried out by other international organisations, largely because of the uniqueness of the CCJE, which is exclusively composed of independent judges entrusted with drafting opinions for the Committee of Ministers. Any overlap between the CCJE and other committees (CEPEJ, CCPE or ENCJ) is avoided through the attendance of all these committees at CCJE meetings.

CDLR: No reply mentions any serious institutional overlap with the work of other organisations. The replies deploring a perceived overlap refer to the work being done on the third protocol to the Madrid Outline Convention, which covers the same ground as EU Regulation No.1082/2006, but highlight the role of the Council of Europe as the only international body that has explicit expertise in the field of local and regional democracy and one that provides the member states with information and disseminates good practice.

CAHPAH: About half of the experts replying consider that there is no overlap between the disability-related activities of the Council of Europe and those of other international organisations. Any overlap is mainly identified as the existence of an area in which there is shared interest or complementarity. Mention is made of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, although its different legal nature and geographical scope are stressed. Representatives of EU member states also refer to the European Commission’s Disability Action Plan and the European Commission High Level Group on Disability. Yet the replies focus on the added value of the Council of Europe’s work in respect of such key aspects as its broad geographical coverage, encompassing non-EU states, its multi-stakeholder approach, the fact that it provides a tool for implementing the above-mentioned UN Convention and serves as a pan-European forum for mainstreaming disability issues in all policy areas, for co-operation and networking and for supervision by member states, and its human rights perspective and expertise in diversity, equality and social cohesion issues.

CDBI: A few members consider that some topics dealt with by CDBI are also discussed in other organisations such as UNESCO, the WHO and to some extent the EU. However, attention is drawn to the uniqueness of the Council of Europe's work, insofar as it is based on a human rights approach, and to the fact that the CDBI is the only international body preparing binding legal instruments in this field. One answer states that the Council of Europe could play a special role when it comes to co-operation between international organisations in the field of bioethics.

CDCULT: Half of the respondents see no overlap with the work of other international organisations, whilst the others mention beneficial overlap with UNESCO or the EU in terms of synergy, shared interest, complementarity and co-operation on key issues. Two of them refer to overlap with UNESCO/ the EU on heritage issues, film and audiovisual policy and ICD (intercultural dialogue). Co-ordination with these organisations is highlighted as being significant both at national level and in the Council of Europe Secretariat, and examples of successful co-operation are quoted. The replies confirm, however, that the Council of Europe is the only European organisation with full competence and a comprehensive mandate in the cultural field.

CDED: There is a consensus to the effect that there is no overlap, but rather complementarity, between the CDED activities and those of other international organisations. Co-operation with the EU, the OCDE and UNESCO should be enhanced. Some answers stress that the Council of Europe's work is more “product-oriented”, and therefore better suited to passing on values, which are of direct help to governments, decision-makers, experts and teachers in their own work. All the respondents acknowledge the added value of the work of the Council of Europe, and attention is drawn to its pan - European dimension - the fact that it includes non-EU member states.

Question 4: Does the system of plenary meetings and working groups function in an efficient way?

17. The majority of members who replied (83%) consider that the system of plenary meetings and working groups functions efficiently. Nevertheless, the running of meetings could be further improved (e.g. the number of items on the agenda could be reduced, timetabling could be improved and discussions could take place in greater depth).

Question 5: To what extent would it be possible to obtain similar results by having less plenary and more working group meetings or the use of other means of communication?

18. The majority of respondents are of the opinion that it is impossible to obtain similar results with fewer plenary and more working group meetings or by using other means of communication. Members of the committees that have two plenary meetings a year feel that there is a proper balance between plenary meetings and working party meetings. On the other hand, members of the committees that have one plenary meeting a year unanimously agree that a further reduction in the number of meetings would be liable to cause members' interest in the committee’s work to dwindle further.

Plenary meetings are considered as providing a comprehensive overview of the activities. They enable every member state to get involved on an equal basis, and provide the opportunity for networking involving member states and all other stakeholders. The subordinate bodies have the advantage of being more efficient in drafting texts of a technical nature but their membership is limited. Some replies suggest holding more specialised/ad hoc meetings with a reduced number of participants. Lastly, it is also suggested that the duration of plenary meetings be extended to allow the organisation of the work on particular topics in smaller groups.

The use of other means of communication (in particular electronic ones) is welcomed and encouraged. It is, however, pointed out that these are already widely used.

Question 6: With the same budget, what improvements do you suggest to raise the efficiency and relevance of the committee’s work (for example with regard to topics addressed, length of agendas, documents, working methods …)?

19. A number of suggestions are made for improving the efficiency and relevance of the committees’ work. With regard to document management, it is proposed that more concise documents be provided, in both official languages (English and French) at the same time and well in advance of the meetings. They should be available on the password-restricted websites. It is stressed that good communication and interaction between the Bureau and the committees’ members, especially during the long periods between sessions, should be ensured. Some proposals are made concerning the preparation and running of meetings. Agendas should be shorter and organised according to political priorities in order to focus discussions on core concerns. Time for general discussion should be limited to allow more time for sharing best practice. Technical issues should be debated by the subordinate bodies. Particular topics could be discussed in smaller groups during committee meetings. Finally, financial participation by member states in order to ensure a second plenary meeting is proposed.

Question 7: Do you see the need to reinforce the interaction between the Committee of Ministers
and your committee?

20. Four of the six committees express general satisfaction with the existing exchange of information with the Committee of Ministers and see no need to reinforce interaction. Some suggestions are nevertheless made in this connection: presence during the meetings of Ambassadors of states concerned by specific topics on the agenda, presence of the Chair of the relevant Rapporteur Group, presence of a Committee of Ministers delegate, etc. On the other hand, two committees express the need to reinforce their interaction with the Committee of Ministers and highlight the importance of regular information flow in both directions.

Question 8: Do you wish to make any further comments regarding the work of your committee (for example regarding work programme, documentation, ministerial conferences, …):

21. In their comments regarding the work of the committees, the members replying reiterate suggestions made in reply to question 6. One committee makes proposals concerning ministerial conferences, suggesting that ministerial conferences make institutional arrangements to ensure the necessary links between sessions. In addition, oversight of the action undertaken during the period between ministerial conferences and stock-taking of achievements should be envisaged.

Question 9: What is your global assessment on the usefulness of the work carried out by your
Steering Committee?

22. The work of the committees is considered as useful by a large majority of respondents (85%).

Question 10: Does your country participate regularly in the work of this Committee?

23. In general (98%), respondents state that they regularly participate in the work of the committee.

***

Appendix 2 to the overview of the survey of six steering and ad hoc committees whose the terms of reference expire in 2009

Results by committee

24. Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) / DGHL
Number of replies to the questionnaire: 20 out of 47 members (43%).

25. The large majority of replies confirm that CCJE opinions have been useful for the purposes of drafting national regulations and legislation. They are often used as tools for the functioning and/or administration of justice and for the organisation of the work of the legal professions. Numerous concrete examples are given in the replies. It is also stressed that the presentation at national level of CCJE opinions, which are frequently mentioned by the media, provides an opportunity for organising public debates on the themes in question.

26. The work of the CCJE is considered useful for national professionals and in particular for judges and judicial service commissions, in view of the fact that CCJE opinions contain concrete specifications concerning the implementation of general standards (independence of judges, training of judges, ethics, quality of decisions, etc.).

27. There is virtually no overlap between the work of the Council of Europe in the field covered by the CCJE and the work carried out by other international organisations, largely because of the uniqueness of the CCJE, which is exclusively composed of independent judges entrusted with drafting opinions for the Committee of Ministers. Any overlap between CCJE and other committees (CEPEJ, CCPE or ENCJ) is avoided through the participation of all these committees in CCJE meetings.

28. Suggestions: Some suggestions are made for improving the efficiency and relevance of the CCJE’s work, most of them very concrete: holding specialised/ad hoc meetings with a reduced number of participants, continuing and stepping up the organisation of international conferences on themes of interest to the CCJE, increasing the use of new technology for the various forms of communication, ensuring that the content of opinions is more concrete, improving co-operation with national judicial bodies and mutual sharing of national experience. Attention is drawn to the problem of language, with reference to the accuracy of translations but also as an obstacle for judges who cannot read French or English documents easily. With regard to the CCJE's working methods, the majority of answers underline their efficiency and emphasise that one annual plenary meeting is a minimum.

29. According to the majority (70%), there is no need to reinforce interaction with the Committee of Ministers, while others consider that more interaction could lead to better dissemination of the CCJE's work in member states and extension of its activities.

30. European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR) / DGDPA
Number of replies to the questionnaire: 20 out of 495 members (41%)

31. A large (90%) majority of the members replying testify that the committee’s work has been taken into account when drafting national legislation in the field of local and regional democracy, notably as regards local self-government and local and regional authorities, cross-border co-operation, public ethics, staff statutes, citizen participation at local level, local elections, local finance and implementation of the principles of the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance. It facilitates implementation at national level of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, for the purposes of which it provides assistance, and is useful for professionals.

32. No reply mentions any serious institutional overlap with the work of other organisations. The replies deploring a perceived overlap refer to the work being done on the third protocol to the Madrid Outline Convention, which covers the same ground as EU Regulation No.1082/2006, but highlight the role of the Council of Europe as the only international body that has explicit expertise in the field of local and regional democracy and one that provide the member states with information and disseminates good practice.

33. Suggestions: The members of the committee wish to keep the current working methods, which offer a right balance between plenary and sub-committee meetings. Specific suggestions include reducing the number of items on the agenda, appointing rapporteurs for certain specific themes, making the documents produced shorter, improving the website by making all documents available and regularly updating them. It is also proposed that more be done to prepare the ministerial conference in QuickTime and that consideration be given to reporting on achievements and action undertaken between ministerial conferences.

34. Although general satisfaction with the existing exchange of information between the CDLR and the Committee of Ministers has been expressed, it is occasionally suggested that regular, direct contacts between CDLR members and their countries’ Permanent Representations / Ambassadors should become more widespread. It is also proposed that Committee of Ministers decisions and documents relating to the CDLR be sent immediately to members.

35. European Co-ordination Forum for the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015 (CAHPAH) / DGIII
Number of replies to the questionnaire: 23 out of 47 members (49%)

36. The replies from this committee represent, ex-aequo with those from CDBI, the highest feedback rate of all the committees concerned. The replies are very positive and give various concrete examples of how the committee’s work has been useful. It is stressed that work on the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015 has served (or will serve) to devise national disability strategies or action plans and programmes and for amendments to national laws or the adoption of new ones based on useful input provided by the CAHPAH. The committee provided a framework for the sharing of information and good practice. Some respondents appreciate the CAHPAH’s pioneering role in instigating political reflection on legislative or policy issues and helping to trigger debate at national level.

37. The work carried out by the Council of Europe and the CAHPAH helped to raise awareness amongst professionals: several texts and activities are listed as having proven highly relevant and useful to them. It is suggested that more be done to pass on the results of the work from the intergovernmental level to local authorities.

38. About half of the experts replying consider that there is no overlap between the disability-related activities of the Council of Europe and those of other international organisations. Any overlap is mainly identified as the existence of an area in which there is shared interest or complementarity. Mention is made of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, although its different legal nature and geographical scope are stressed. Representatives of EU member states also refer to the European Commission’s Disability Action Plan and the European Commission High Level Group on Disability. Yet the replies focus on the added value of the Council of Europe’s work in respect such key aspects as its broad geographical coverage, encompassing non-EU states, its multi-stakeholder approach, the fact that it provides a tool for implementing the above-mentioned UN Convention and serves as a pan-European forum for mainstreaming disability issues in all policy areas, for co-operation and networking and for supervision by member states, and its human rights perspective and expertise in diversity, equality and social cohesion issues.

39. Suggestions: There are proposals to extend the duration of the plenary meeting and shorten and concentrate the agenda. Attention is drawn to the need to have both English and French documents available in time, including on the restricted website. The conferences are appreciated as being professionally-managed. The view is taken that the committee should have at least one high-level ministerial meeting a year. However, not all events need to be held at ministerial level: local authorities, professionals, private enterprises, the media and other parties concerned should be targeted. The CAHPAH has only one plenary meeting a year, and the majority of respondents stress that the number of such meetings could not be reduced as they add breadth and enhance the scope of the work and give it a higher political profile.

40. While the majority (78%) do not see any need to reinforce interaction with the Committee of Ministers, there are some proposals to strengthen it by, for instance, sending regular reports from the member states to the Committee of Ministers on the implementation of the committee’s terms of reference, followed by a review by the Committee of Ministers, the Permanent Representation and the CAHPAH country representative.

41. Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI) / DG3
Number of replies to the questionnaire: 23 out of 47 members (49%)6

42. The replies from this committee represent, ex-aequo with those from CAHPAH, the highest feedback rate of all committees concerned. All the members who replied, including those from member states which have not signed or ratified the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, acknowledge that the work of CDBI has a significant and often decisive impact on national legislation. Many list a number of specific domestic laws on various topics, such as patients’ rights, human organ and tissue donation and transplantation, mental health, biomedical research and bio banks, and several underline the value of CDBI’s achievements when it comes to standard-setting.

43. Many answers (96%) state that the CDBI’s work is useful for professionals. The instruments and texts elaborated by the CDBI are used in public debate and constitute a reference for ethics bodies. The CDBI’s work is also referred to as influencing the content of codes of ethics in a number of countries.

44. A few members state that some topics dealt with by CDBI are also discussed in other organisations such as UNESCO, the WHO and to some extent the EU. However, attention is drawn to the uniqueness of the Council of Europe's work, insofar as it is based on a human rights approach and to the fact that the CDBI is the only international body preparing binding legal instruments in this field. One answer states that the Council of Europe could play a special role when it comes to co-operation between international organisations in the field of bioethics.

45. Suggestions: A few suggestions are made, in particular that more time be allowed for consultation over documents at national level before plenary meetings, that discussion at plenary meetings be shortened, and that greater use been made of e-mail. It is unanimously agreed that it would not be possible to obtain similar results with fewer than two plenary meetings per year. The current working methods are efficient according to 96% of the respondents, and attention is a drawn to the excellent work of the Secretariat.

46. The large majority consider the current interaction between the Committee of Ministers and the CDBI to be satisfactory.

47. Steering Committee for Culture (CDCULT) / DG4
Number of replies to the questionnaire: 12 out of 497 members (24%)

48. The response rate of this committee is the lowest of all the committees consulted. Nevertheless, thanks to the quality of the replies, there are some interesting ideas for further improvements. It is generally agreed that the committee's work is useful for the purposes of fostering public debate, establishing cultural guidelines and drafting national legislation, many examples being listed in the answers. Council of Europe legal documents contributed to legal reforms in countries seeking EU membership. The Compendium information system is described as “the most important cultural policy information system in Europe” and the CDCULT's great capacity for bilateral and international networking is highlighted.

49. Policy-makers, professionals, researchers and artists are broadly inspired by the CDCULT's guidelines and priorities, definitions, concepts and good practices (e.g. Intercultural Dialogue/ White Paper/ Intercultural Cities, integration policies, cultural routes, cultural exchanges, creative industries, heritage, cinema, including Eurimages, equality issues) and use them in their work.

50. Half of the respondents see no overlap with the work of other international organisations, whilst the others mention beneficial overlap with UNESCO or the EU in terms of synergy, shared interest, complementarity and co-operation on key issues. Two of them refer to overlap with UNESCO/ the EU on heritage issues, film and audiovisual policy and ICD. Co-ordination with these organisations is highlighted as being significant both at national level and in the Council of Europe Secretariat, and examples of successful co-operation are quoted. The replies confirm, however, that the Council of Europe is the only European organisation with full competence and a comprehensive mandate in the cultural field.

51. Obviously, the number of the plenary meetings cannot be reduced, given that the time allotted has already been substantially reduced (by 30% in 2008).

52. Suggestions: As far as improvements to the plenary meetings are concerned, proposals include shorter agendas, more in-depth debates and more clearly focused documents. Key legal documents should be translated into national languages (this being the responsibility of CDCULT members). Communication between the Bureau and the committee should be enhanced to bridge long periods between sessions. The usefulness of a second committee meeting a year is stressed, and it is proposed that member states help to finance a second meeting. The organisation of expert conferences is also suggested.

53. CDCULT members consider that more Committee of Ministers support for culture might be generated by enhanced interaction between the CDCULT and the Committee of Ministers. The importance of regular information flow in both directions and the role of Permanent Representations are stressed.

54. Steering Committee for Education (CDED) / DGIV
Number of replies to the questionnaire: 17 out of 498 members (35%)

55. The majority (88%) of answers are positive when it comes to the application of the committee’s work at national level. Some CDED activities and documents had a direct impact on national legislation and the strategies devised, amongst them language education policy, history and remembrance teaching, Education for Democratic Citizenship/Human Rights, education for Roma children and intercultural education. The importance of the CDED’s work in fostering public debate is also highlighted.

56. Members particularly appreciated the opportunity for national experts to work in working groups for many years in the context of CDED projects. The usefulness of the practical training tools, along with policy recommendations, in that it allows teachers to refresh and improve their teaching methods, is emphasised.

57. There is a consensus to the effect that there is no overlap, but rather complementarity, between the CDED activities and those of other international organisations. Co-operation with the EU, the OCDE and UNESCO should be enhanced. Some answers stress that the Council of Europe's work is more “product-oriented”, and therefore better suited to passing on values, which are of direct help to governments, decision-makers, experts and teachers in their own work. All the respondents acknowledge the added value of the work of the Council of Europe, and attention is drawn to its pan-European dimension - the fact that includes non-EU member states.

58. Suggestions: There are proposals to the effect that communication between the Bureau and the committee should be enhanced, documentation improved and ongoing evaluation introduced. It is also suggested that meetings on particular thematic or regional topics be held on the occasion of the plenary meeting. The prevailing view (82%) is that it is not possible to reduce the number of plenary meetings as the agenda has become too long since the CDED’s second plenary meeting was abolished.

59. A large majority (88%) of the members who replied are in favour of strengthening interaction between the CDED and the Committee of Ministers, and consider that this would be helpful all round, in that it would make for better mutual understanding of the constraints affecting the Programme of Activities and the constraints and results of the CDED’s work.

***

Appendix 3 to the overview of the survey of six steering and ad hoc committees whose the terms of reference expire in 2009

Table summarising the replies

Steering or ad hoc committee

CCJE

CDLR

CAHPAH

CDBI

CDCULT

CDED

Directorate General

DGHL

DGDPA

DGIII

DGIII

DGIV

DGIV

CM Rapporteur Group

GR-H

GR-DEM

GR-SOC

GR-J

GR-C

GR-C

Members’ participation in the survey

43%

41%

49%

49%

24%

35%

1. Has the committee’s work been useful in view of the elaboration of the national legislation (laws, regulations, and directives) and/or public debate?
(% of YES answers)

90%

90%

96%

96%

100%

88%

2. Was the committee’s work useful in your country for professionals dealing with questions falling within the committee’s competence? (% of YES answers)

90%

95%

91%

96%

100%

94%

3. Do you think there was an overlapping of the work of the Council of Europe in the field of your committee, with the work carried out by other international organisations? (% of NO answers)

85%

45%

48%

70%

50%

53%

4. Does the system of plenary meetings and working groups function in an efficient way? (% of answers 4+5)

80%

75%

78%

96%

92%

76%

5. To what extent would it be possible to obtain similar results by having less plenary and more working group meetings or the use of other means of communication?
(% of YES answers)

20%

40%

39%

0%

33%

19%

6. With the same budget, what improvements do you suggest to raise the efficiency and relevance of the committee’s work (for example with regard to topics addressed, length of agendas, documents, working methods)? ? (% of answers putting forward suggestions)

70%

85%

83%

65%

92%

88%

7. Do you see the need to reinforce the interaction between the Committee of Ministers and your committee?
(% of YES answers)

30%

30%

22%

17%

58%

88%

8. Do you wish to make any further comments regarding the work of your committee (for example regarding work programme, documentation, ministerial conferences, …) (% of answers making comments)

35%

40%

65%

48%

75%

76%

9. What is your global assessment on the usefulness of the work carried out by your Steering Committee?
(% of answers 4+5)

85%

75%

82%

100%

83%

82%

10. Does your country participate regularly in the work of this Committee?
(% of YES answers)

100%

95%

91%

100%

100%

100%

***

Appendix 4 to the overview of the survey of six steering and ad hoc committees whose the terms of reference expire in 2009

Lessons learned: suggestions for improving the questionnaire

60. The purpose of this appendix is to use the lessons learned from the pilot phase of the survey to suggest improvements to the questionnaire in the light of:

    · the analysis of the replies,
    · the committee secretariats' feedback, and
    · the informal consultations that took place between the GT-REF.INST and the committee Chairs, following the survey.

61. Questions 1, 2 and 9 deal with the usefulness of the committees’ work in general. While Q1 and Q2 allow comments to be made on the usefulness of the committees’ work and results for the purposes of drafting national legislation and/or triggering public debate and in the work of professionals, Q9 provides little statistical evidence and the replies overlap with the YES/NO replies to Q1 and Q2. It would be worth envisaging keeping the free text box for explanations but replacing the YES/NO choice in Q1 and Q2 with a scale (High 5 to Low 1) so as to make each question more useful. In that case, Q9 could be left out. In this context, question 10 adds little: it simply ascertains the members’ interest in the committees' work, which is borne out by their attendance at meetings and their actual participation in the survey: 98% of the members who replied to the survey regularly take part in the work of the committees.

62. The questions best able to pinpoint problems or improve the efficiency of committees are questions 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8. However, the answers to questions 6 and 8 are almost identical (with the exception of the reference to conferences in the case of Q8): the respondents list their proposals for improvements in their replies to both questions. If the questionnaire were to be used again, these two questions should either be reworded to distinguish more clearly between the scope of each or merged into a single question.

63. The answers to question 3 sometimes conflict with the points made further on. Indeed, some members first mention overlap with topics dealt with by other organisations, then go on to highlight the uniqueness of the Council of Europe work.

64. The way the question 5 is worded - “To what extent…?” - makes it difficult to reply in YES/NO terms and led to misunderstanding and confusion in the replies. The question should be reworded to allow only free text replies, without a YES/NO choice.

65. With regard to the questionnaire terminology, the expression “working groups” in questions 4 and 5 is not the most appropriate one, as this kind of group is not provided for in the typology of subordinate bodies set out in Resolution Res(2005)47. A more fitting term would be “groups of specialists”.

66. With regard to informal consultations, the Chairs provided very positive feedback on reactions to the exercise and the questionnaire and its usefulness. They stressed the fact that a questionnaire should not be too long, and that this was indeed the case for the pilot survey. One of them thought it would have been worth including a question on the need to set up the committee and the purpose of doing so (e.g. “Why was this committee set up?”) in the questionnaire, and proposed that the wording of question 5 be improved.

67. At the GT-REF.INST meeting of 26 March 2009, some suggestions were made with a view to improving the questionnaire: to ask how many sub-committees, for which the steering committee is responsible, have been established and why; to ask which priority topics should be examined.

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted until examination by the Committee of Ministers.
Note 2 Revised in the light of the GT-REF.INST meetings on 9 April 2009 and 26 March 2009.
Note 3 Study on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Committees under the Programme of Activities of the Council of Europe (Vote II), PARTICIP, 31 August 2007. Some 140 respondents representing 13 steering, ad hoc and subordinate committees other than those covered by the current survey participated in the study.
Note 4 In view of budgetary constraints and in order to increase ownership of committees’ work, this could be accompanied by a review of reimbursement mechanisms for travel and per diems.
Note 5 One answer, reporting on the LR-DP, which is a subordinate body to CDLR, was not taken into account in these statistics. The statistics given for the CDLR in this overview are based on 20 replies out of 49 members and are therefore slightly different from the statistics computed by the Secretariat in the summary, which are based on 21 replies from a total of 66 members.
Note 6 Three answers, received from the USA, Canada (listed in the terms of reference as “Other participants”) and KEK (“Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches”, listed as “Observer”), have not been taken into account in the following statistics as they are not official members of the committee. The statistics given for CDBI in this overview are based on 23 answers out of 47 members and are therefore slightly different from the statistics computed by the Secretariat in the summary, which are based on 26 answers out of a total of 60 members.
Note 7 The Holy See and Belarus, having acceded to the European Cultural Convention, are entitled to appoint representatives as members of CDCULT, which thus has 49 members.
Note 8 The Holy See and Belarus, having acceded to the European Cultural Convention, are entitled to appoint representatives as members of CDED, which thus has 49 members.


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