Strasbourg, 24.01.2013 - Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, issued today the following statement, on the occasion of Commissioner Füle’s visit to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe :
“Our close and joint cooperation and engagement with our partners in the East and in the Southern neighbourhood represents a powerful instrument to support their process of transformation and the development of deep rooted democracy. Our co-operation is part of a well-defined strategy and the European Union-Council of Europe joint programmes provide the countries with real support and practical, visible results.
In order to boost the impact of our action still further, we wish to expand the parliamentary side of our joint assistance and co-operation programmes, focusing in particular on increasing the capacity of national parliaments in the areas of drafting legislation and developing the skills of parliamentary staff, as well as the establishment of parliamentary procedures which fully respect political pluralism in parliaments.
We are also determined to offer our support and assistance to countries in our immediate neighbourhood that share our values and seek to implement our standards. Our cooperation through the EU-funded Council of Europe Eastern Partnership Facility is already making a real difference in partner countries. We are engaged in the same spirit also with our neighbours to the South in particular through the Programme “Strengthening democratic reform in the southern neighbourhood” (South Programme), launched in January 2012 by the European Union and the Council of Europe
Parliamentary diplomacy makes a major contribution to building dialogue between elected representatives in countries affected by “frozen” conflicts. Confidence-building measures and direct dialogue between elected representatives are the best ways of establishing a climate conducive to resolving these conflicts and we warmly encourage any corresponding initiatives.
The accession process requires far-reaching reforms to be carried out in terms of institutions, legislation and administrative practices so that the countries concerned fully take on board the ‘acquis communautaire’, and the Council of Europe is one of the right institutional frameworks for helping move forward such reforms. The future and the success of the European project depends both upon deepening the integration and being able to offer a clear European perspective for all European countries which show an unequivocal will to make real progress in respecting our common values. Although this is a long and complex process, it is both rewarding and responds to the most fundamental needs and wishes of the citizens of those countries."