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Rules of Procedure for the meetings of the Ministers’ Deputies

(4th revised edition: 2005)1

Article 1

Appointment of the Ministers’ Deputies

In accordance with Article 14 of the Rules of Procedure of the Committee of Ministers, each Minister for Foreign Affairs shall appoint a deputy to act on his behalf outside the meetings held at the level of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs.

Article 2

Powers of the Committee of Ministers meeting at Deputy level

1. The Committee of Ministers meeting at Deputy level – hereinafter referred to as “the Deputies” – is empowered to deal with all matters within the competence of the Committee of Ministers and to take decisions on its behalf.

2. Decisions taken by the Deputies shall have the same force and effect as decisions taken by the Committee of Ministers meeting at the level of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs.

3. The Deputies shall, however, not take decisions on any matter which, in the view of one or more of them, should by reason of its political importance be dealt with by the Committee of Ministers meeting at ministerial level.

Article 3

Meetings

1. The Deputies shall meet for the purpose of transacting business and taking decisions on behalf of the Committee of Ministers.

2. The date of each meeting shall as a rule be fixed during the previous meeting.

3. Meetings shall be held at Strasbourg unless the Deputies decide otherwise by a simple majority.

4. When a meeting of the Deputies has been arranged in accordance with the provisions of this Article, any request for postponement shall be made at least fifteen days before the date fixed for the opening of the meeting; a decision to postpone the meeting shall be regarded as taken if two-thirds of the members inform the Secretary General of their agreement at least seven days before the date originally fixed. A decision to advance the date of the meeting shall be regarded as taken only if all the members inform the Secretary General of their agreement at least fifteen days before the new date which has been proposed.

Article 4

Composition of delegations

1. A Deputy may be aided by one or more assistants whose names and titles shall be notified to the Secretary General. An assistant may represent the Deputy and vote in his absence at meetings of the Deputies.

2. A Deputy may also be accompanied by advisers or experts who may speak at his request and with the Chairman’s permission.

Article 5

Agenda

1. At each meeting of the Deputies, the Secretary General shall present a preliminary draft agenda for the following meeting which shall comprise:

a. Opinions of the Consultative Assembly;2

b. Recommendations of the Consultative Assembly;2, 3

c. Other texts adopted by the Consultative Assembly;2, 4

d. Subject to the provisions of Article 13, items whose inscription has been requested by any member;

e. Reports of committees of experts set up under Article 17 of the Statute;

f. Items whose consideration is requested by the Secretary General.

2. On the basis of the preliminary draft so established, the Deputies agree on the draft agenda for their next meeting. The agenda shall be adopted at the beginning of each meeting. Any supplementary items may be added only if the Deputies so decide. Decisions about the agenda shall be taken by a simple majority.

Article 6

Chair

1. The Deputy to the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers shall be the Chairman of the Deputies.

2. The Deputy who will next succeed to the Chair shall be the first Vice-Chairman of the Deputies. The outgoing Chairman will become the second Vice-Chairman. If the Chairman is absent, the Chair shall be taken by the first Vice-Chairman or, in his absence, by the second Vice-Chairman, then by the next full member present, in the alphabetical order adopted for the signature of the Statute of the Council of Europe, then by the last Chairman but one.5

3. The Chair shall pass to a new Chair immediately following the transfer of the Chair of the Committee of Ministers.6

Article 7

Quorum

The Deputies shall not deliberate or decide with full effect unless two-thirds of the Deputies are present or represented in accordance with the provisions of Article 4, paragraph 1 of these Rules of Procedure.

Article 8

Languages

1. English and French shall be the official languages, in accordance with Article 12 of the Statute.

2. A Deputy may speak in any other language, but in that case he himself shall provide for interpretation into one of the official languages.

Article 9

Voting

1. The following decisions shall require a unanimous vote of the Deputies casting a vote, and a majority of the Deputies entitled to vote:

a. Recommendations to governments under Article 15.b. of the Statute;

b. Decisions on the inclusion of information about the activities of the Committee in the reports made by the Committee of Ministers to the Assembly in pursuance of Article 19 of the Statute;

c. Decisions to derogate from the rule that meetings are held in private or concerning the publication of information relating to the conclusions and decisions of the Deputies on the basis of the provision of Article 21 of the Statute;

d. Decisions on holding sessions of the Consultative Assembly2 elsewhere than in Strasbourg;

e. Recommendations for the amendment of the Statute;

f. Decisions on the admission of new members;

g. Decisions on matters which the Deputies may, under the conditions provided for in paragraph 4 of this article, decide to subject to a unanimous vote on account of their importance.

2. Resolutions concerning the adoption of the budget shall be taken by a two-thirds majority.

3. Questions arising under the Rules of Procedure or under the Financial or Staff Regulations shall be decided by a simple majority.

4. All other decisions of the Deputies, including, in case of doubt, the decision as to which paragraph of this article applies, require a two-thirds majority.

Article 10

Method of voting

1. In every vote it shall be open to a Deputy:

a. to record his approval, opposition or abstention, which may be accompanied by an explanatory statement;

b. to agree a text or decision ad referendum; in that case he shall inform the Secretariat at a later date whether he is able to give his final agreement. Should his vote have been necessary in order to obtain the statutory majority or to achieve the required unanimity, the adoption of the text or the application of the decision shall be suspended; once the final agreement has been given, the text or decision shall take effect as of the date on which the vote was taken in the meeting of the Deputies;

2. Where unanimity is required, a Deputy may:

a. record his opposition, in which case the proposal shall be rejected;

b. require that the decision be deferred; in that case the question is included in the agenda of a subsequent meeting;

c. approve the adoption of a text but reserve the right of his government to comply with it or not;

d. record his abstention which may be accompanied by an explanatory statement, which shall not prevent the Deputies from reaching a decision in accordance with the provisions of Article 9 of the present rules.

3. A two-thirds majority is obtained if two-thirds of the Deputies casting a vote and the majority of the Deputies entitled to vote, vote in the same sense.7

4. A simple majority requires the votes of half of the number of the Deputies entitled to vote, plus one.8

5. Only affirmative and negative votes shall count in calculating the number of votes cast.

6. After the result of a vote has been announced a Deputy may, with the agreement of his colleagues expressed by a simple majority, change the position which he adopted during the vote.

7. Before proceeding to a vote, the Chairman may ask the Deputies to express their views on an indicative basis.

Article 11

Partial agreements

On a matter requiring unanimity the Deputies may decide to apply the procedure for partial agreements provided for in Resolution (51) 62 adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 August 1951. In that event, when a unanimous decision has been taken in favour of the conclusion of a partial agreement, the subsequent opposition, abstention or reservation of one or more Deputies shall not prevent the adoption of a resolution by those Deputies who vote in favour of it.

Article 12

Order to be followed in the examination of proposals or amendments

1. When several proposals relate to the same subject, they shall be put to the vote in the order in which they were tabled. In case of doubt as to the degree of priority the Chairman shall give a ruling.

2. When an amendment is moved to a proposal, the amendment shall be voted on first. When two or more amendments are moved to a proposal, the Deputies shall first vote on the amendment furthest removed in substance from the original proposal and then on the amendment next furthest removed therefrom, and so on, until all the amendments have been put to the vote. Where, however, the adoption of one amendment necessarily implies the rejection of another amendment, the latter amendment shall not be put to the vote. The proposal shall then be put to a final vote subject to any amendments which may have been carried. In case of doubt as to the degree of priority the Chairman shall give a ruling.

3. The parts of a proposal or of an amendment may be put to the vote separately.

4. In the case of proposals of a budgetary nature, the highest total shall be put to the vote first. Each vote relating to a particular sub-head entails the final grant of the corresponding appropriations.

Article 13

Re-opening of a discussion

On a proposal which has been rejected, a Deputy may subsequently ask for the re-opening of the debate and for a second and final vote. The Deputies shall decide thereon by a simple majority.

Article 14

The Secretary General

The Secretary General or his representative may, at any time, make a written or oral statement on any subject under discussion.

Article 15

Consultation of representatives of the Assembly or experts

With the agreement of the Deputies, the Chairman may request the attendance of a representative of the Assembly, an expert or any qualified person to make a statement on particular aspects of any question on the agenda. Unless otherwise decided, anyone so invited shall take no part in the discussion and shall withdraw after making his statement and answering any questions.

Article 16

Conclusions of the meeting

1. At the end of each meeting the draft conclusions shall be submitted by the Secretary of the Committee of Ministers for approval of the Deputies. This report shall record the conclusions reached by the Deputies and shall not constitute a summary report of the discussions or of the views expressed. Nevertheless, when the Deputies are unable to reach agreement on a question for which unanimity is required the majority and minority views shall be recorded in the conclusions.

2. The point of view expressed by a Deputy during a meeting shall be recorded if a specific request is so made. The same applies to statements by the Secretary General or his representative.

3. The final text of the conclusions shall be distributed within three working days after the end of the meeting.

Article 17

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure

Subject to the provisions of the Statute, these Rules of Procedure may be amended by the Deputies by a two-thirds majority, except in the case of Articles 2 and 9, the amendment of which shall require a unanimous vote.

Article 18

Rules of Procedure of the Committee of Ministers

The Rules of Procedure of the Committee of Ministers shall apply, where appropriate, to meetings of the Deputies in respect of matters not provided for in these rules.

1. Text adopted by the Committee of Ministers at its 16th Session (4-5 July 1955). This edition incorporates the changes made in the original text at the 40th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies. The relevant text was approved by the Deputies at their 69th meeting (March 1959) and amended at their 133rd meeting (June 1964), 182nd and 183rd meetings (September and October 1969), 201st meeting (September 1971), 519bis meeting (November 1994) and 934th meeting (July 2005).

2. In February 1994, the Committee of Ministers decided to use in the future the denomination “Parliamentary Assembly” (508th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies).

3. By recommendation is meant a proposal by the Assembly addressed to the Committee of Ministers, the implementation of which is beyond the province of the Assembly, but within that of governments.

4. A resolution embodies a decision by the Assembly on a question of substance which it is empowered to put into effect, or an expression of a point of view for which it alone is responsible. An order is concerned with a question of form, transmission, execution or procedure. It must relate to a question already placed on the Assembly’s register and may not deal with the substance of that question. Nevertheless, the examination of such texts may on occa sion lead the Deputies to take up a position.

5. Amended by the Ministers' Deputies at their 519bis meeting.

6. Amended by the Ministers' Deputies at their 934th meeting.

7. In other words as from 5 October 2004, with 46 member states, if 46 Deputies participate in the vote, 31 votes in favour are necessary for an affirmative decision; if 45 or 44 Deputies participate in the vote, 30 votes in favour are necessary for an affirmative decision; if 43 Deputies participate in the vote, 29 votes in favour are necessary for an affirmative decision; if 42 or 41 Deputies participate in the vote, 28 votes in favour are necessary; if 40 Deputies participate in the vote, 27 votes in favour are necessary; if 39 or 38 Deputies participate in the vote, 26 votes in favour are necessary; if 37 Deputies participate in the vote, 25 votes in favour are necessary; if between 36 and 24 Deputies participate in the vote, 24 votes in favour are necessary; if fewer than 24 Deputies participate in the vote, the vote is not carried. Abstentions do not count as a vote for the purposes of calculating the two-thirds majority.

8. The Council of Europe membership from 5 October 2004 being 46, a minimum of 24 votes in favour is necessary for a proposal to be adopted.



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