AA17CR09

AS (2017) CR 09
Provisional edition

2017 ORDINARY SESSION

________________________

(First part)

REPORT

Ninth sitting

Friday 27 January 2017 at 10.00 a.m.

In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

2.       Speeches in other languages are reported using the interpretation and are marked with an asterisk.

3.       The text of the amendments is available at the document centre and on the Assembly’s website. Only oral amendments or oral sub-amendments are reproduced in the report of debates

4.       Speeches in German and Italian are reproduced in full in a separate document.

5.       Corrections should be handed in at Room 1059A not later than 24 hours after the report has been circulated.

The contents page for this sitting is given at the end of the report.

(Mr Rouquet, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 10.05 a.m.)

      The PRESIDENT* – The sitting is open.

1. Changes in the membership of Committees

      The PRESIDENT* – Our first item of business is to consider the changes proposed in the membership of committees. These are set out in Document Commissions (2017) 01, Addendum 5. Are the proposed changes in the membership of the Assembly’s committees agreed to?

      They are agreed to.

2. Joint debate: Human rights compatibility of investor-State arbitration in international investment protection agreements, and “New generation” trade agreements and their implications for social rights, public health and sustainable development

      The PRESIDENT* – We now come to the joint debate on the reports from the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. The first is entitled “Human rights compatibility of investor-State arbitration in international investment protection agreements”, Document 14225, and is presented by Mr Pieter Omtzigt. This will be followed by the presentation of an opinion by Mr Geraint Davies, on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, Document 14255. Then Mr Davies will present the report on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, entitled “‘New generation’ trade agreements and their implications for social rights, public health and sustainable development”, Document 14219.

      Speeches will be limited to three minutes, so we will need to conclude the debate on the text, including votes, by 11.55 a.m. I shall therefore interrupt the list of speakers at about 11.10 a.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote. The rapporteurs have 13 minutes in total, which they may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.

      I call first Mr Pieter Omtzigt, rapporteur on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – It is good to talk to an empty Chamber – I pretty sure the Bureau is still deciding on a fully external and independent investigation into alleged wrongdoings, which is very important.

      Today we are talking about an epic political dispute in Europe: TTIP and CETA. I should make it clear from the outset that my committee is “only” dealing with dispute resolution. My colleague Mr Geraint Davies, from the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, will deal with the other substantive issues, and there are quite a few in these trade treaties. We have a mandate to say something about the dispute resolution mechanisms that have been laid down in these and many other bilateral and multilateral investment protection agreements.

      The topic we are discussing is who decides when a disagreement arises between the host State and the foreign investor about the interpretation of the international agreement underlying the investment question. Is it the national court of the host country, an ad hoc arbitration panel consisting of one arbitrator chosen by each side, who in turn agree on a third, or the future investment court system proposed by the European Commission? These are procedural questions, and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights deals with them, under access to justice, equality before the law and the independence and impartiality of tribunals. The Council of Europe and our Assembly have a legitimate role to play in this respect vis-ŕ-vis our interlocutors in Brussels. While the European Union clearly has the competence to negotiate trade and investment agreements with third countries, these must respect member States’ human rights obligations under the Convention and democracy.

      We have heard different opinions in our hearings and a number of alternatives. The extreme alternative, adamantly defended by most opponents of TTIP, CETA and other treaties, is the full renationalisation of investment protection. That would leave the protection of foreign investments entirely to the national courts of host States, but this would mean a return of the issue that led to the development of the existing investor-State dispute settlement system. As a matter of fact, national courts have in the past ignored international agreements, in their perceived or real national interests – or, in certain countries, the interests of national elites, who also happen to control the courts. We know of numerous examples of national court bias and they are unfortunately not limited to courts in countries where the rule of law is still underdeveloped. The report contains examples of US courts, especially at state level, that ignore international obligations entered into by the United States when they would have benefited foreigners.

      The proposed international court system is designed to avoid the pitfalls of the existing ISDS mechanisms. Parts of the ISDS system are too secretive, the rules are not clear enough, and sometimes the claims can be huge, but that said – the system is too private and not public enough – the proposal does not go as far as renationalising investment protection.

      Let us not forget why credible, effective protection of foreign investment is desirable. One needs a stable legal environment that encourages long-term, sustainable investments, because that generates jobs, economic growth and stability. Without an effectively enforced legal framework, foreign investments tend to take the form of short-term hit-and-run operations, where the investor expects maximum profits as long as the protection lasts, which investors are then tempted to procure themselves by influencing the political process in the host country by whatever means.

      I have to admit, however, that there was some difference between the original report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development and the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. Whereas the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights was of the opinion that it is perfectly reasonable to have ISDS, the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development had the opposite opinion. That is why we talked for a long time – I have spent more hours with Mr Davies than with my wife this week; I hear Mr Davies say, “Good!”, but that was good only for one part, and for the other I have to tell him, “Sorry, not tonight”. However, we do agree on a number of things.

      On the Investment Court System, some people think that the ICS is desirable, and some think that it is not desirable, so we have an agreement to disagree. However, if we have an ICS, we need a number of strict rules. The first is that people cannot claim more than the actual damages – by the way, that is in line with Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights. Secondly, we should make it into an optional protocol in TTIP and CETA, which would mean that countries could decide whether to have the investment protection. They could, if they wished, either not accede to the protocol or at some point withdraw from it with one year’s notice, but the existing investments would remain protected for a period of, say, six years, because we need to offer some legal certainty. That would mean that politicians had a way to withdraw.

      We need to see that there is a small issue within the European Union. You can enter an agreement, but under the Vienna rules on international law, you should always be able to exit it. The European Union is about trade, so the European Union can enter a trade agreement, but we propose that countries should still be able to take the decision at some point not to have the investor protection. That is why you will see in the voting a number of amendments that make our reports congruent between each other and which propose exactly this – not to completely agree whether it is necessary but to agree that, if you do it, it has to follow a set of quite strict standards.

      I look forward to the debate, and I shall leave quite some time open to answer questions after we have heard from the group spokespersons and the other speakers, who are now present in large numbers.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, rapporteur. You have some seven minutes remaining to reply to the debate.

      I call Mr Geraint Davies to present the opinion of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – I also enjoyed the many hours that we spent negotiating. The situation is that the two committees have come from different places. My committee has come from the position that the Investment Court System that succeeds the ISDS is not necessary. We have agreed to disagree on that, but we have said that the ICS is not necessary because in Europe investors are already protected by national law, European law and the European Court of Human Rights, and in America, for example, they are protected at a district and county level as well as at state level in terms of appeal and, finally, at appeal level to the Supreme Court at the federal level. Therefore, it is not wholly necessary, although we accept that there are problems. Also, there are great down-side risks that some of these powers will be used disproportionately. Therefore, in order for our two committees to come together, we have agreed that the ICS could go ahead only subject to certain strict guarantees and conditions that the rapporteur has set out: namely, that there should be an exit opportunity for individual countries within one year; and, secondly, that there should be some constraints on the level of damages to actual damages incurred; and, most importantly, that the judgments of the arbitration panel should be bound by the European Court of Human Rights.

      At the moment, the situation has been that these tribunals can do whatever they like, irrespective of the European Court of Human Rights and, indeed, of national and international law. In our view, although there have been problems, this is very much a hammer to break a nut. People will be aware of many such examples from arbitration courts, such as Philip Morris Asia Limited v Australia on tobacco, the fizzy drinks manufacturers versus Mexico in relation to the taxes to protect people from diabetes and Lone Pine Resources v Canada in relation to fracking companies. If there are not safeguards, our ability as democrats to pass laws to protect the environment, workers’ rights and public health is in danger.

      Therefore, as has been said, there is a series of amendments to bring congruence between the two reports so that, while we accept that there is a disagreement on the necessity for the ICS, if the ICS does go ahead, it must be subject to these strict safeguards.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Davies. I now call on you to take the floor once again to present the report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development on “‘New generation’ trade agreements and their implications for social rights, public health and sustainable development”, for which you have 13 minutes.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – My first speech was on our committee’s opinion on the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights report, and now I shall speak to our committee’s report more generally.

      Essentially, the situation is that we all agree that we would like to have more trade, investment and investor protection, but we also want to safeguard the Council of Europe’s core values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and that is where our concern about the Investment Court System comes from. However, our concerns go much wider than that. On trade, both TTIP and CETA would provide an increase of something like 0.5% of GDP in trade, which would be significant and welcome, but we need to think very carefully about the incidence and distribution of the benefits and costs in terms of employment across the piece. Secondly, on CETA – TTIP will in all probability not go ahead because of Donald Trump, but CETA has gone ahead – there is great public concern about the level of secrecy around that and things have leaked out that concern people, so there is a call for more transparency.

      There is clearly a division on these issues. The European Union’s Economic and Social Committee was against CETA, whereas the Committee on International Trade was for it, and there have been similar differences here in the Assembly. I think that underlines the difficulties that are inherent in this issue.

      The downside relates to some of the powers invested in arbitration courts, which are, at least at the moment, held in secret and can produce different judgments between different arbitration courts that are not subject to appeal, although there is a move to resolve some of these issues. Those powers can be used with great ferocity. I have already mentioned the cases relating to Philip Morris, the fizzy drinks manufacturers and Lone Pine Resources in Canada, but other cases, just briefly, include: Metalclad v. Mexico, where an attempt to stop planning permission because a local town was being polluted by landfill was overturned by an arbitration court; Cargill, Incorporated v Mexico, which I mentioned, where the interests of the profits of fizzy drinks manufacturers were put ahead of the interests of tackling the raging diabetes problem in Mexico; and Ethyl Corporation v Canada, where, again, a move to improve public health was overthrown.

      The problem is that the arbitration powers have tended to focus very much on the interests of the investor as opposed to the wider public interest, which would include public health, human rights and the ability of democratic governments to pass laws in the interests of their people without intimidation. I know that there is a move to begin to change these things, but these are central problems that we identify in our report. Ultimately, we all agree that with, for example, the environmental imperatives in the Paris agreement, it is important that unconstrained draconian powers are not in place that could inhibit that. Similarly, if we want to maintain the food and health standards we enjoy in Europe, we do not want harmonisation to reduce them. The same is the case for social rights.

      We have seen some of these powers used disproportionately and it is important that in what we decide with the two biggest trading blocs in the world – the United States and the European Union, and Canada – we set a blueprint to promote and not constrain the values we stand for, by which I mean a sustainable planet through the Paris Agreement, human rights, the rule of law and democracy. We cannot have parliaments intimidated about passing laws because they might be fined. In Britain, the previous Chancellor proposed a fizzy drinks tax to curb diabetes, and case law shows that Mexico lost in an attempt to do the same thing and had to pay penal fines. We cannot have a situation in which we try to do good things for our nation’s health only to be sued by manufacturers.        On fracking, in Britain planning law means that people can frack under your house, although you can object to a wind farm a few miles away, and there is 75% capital relief for investment in fracking. If a future government of any colour decided to reduce those subsidies and planning consents, it might be subject to legal action through tribunals.

      There are key issues about the balance between these powers and the powers of democrats to decide whatever they want. It might be one thing or another according to one’s political position, but that is not the issue. The issue is about having that choice, and that is inherent in our democracy. CETA bound us for 20 years, which binds future governments, so I welcome our proposed amendment to allow us to opt out of the ICS in certain situations within a year while protecting investors for the future.

      I hope that with our proposed safeguards we can move forward to increase trade and protection, to safeguard democracy and to work towards a sustainable, fairer and better world that we can all share.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Davies. You have seven minutes remaining in which to reply to the debate.

      We move now to the speakers on behalf of political groups. I call Mr Overbeek.

      Mr OVERBEEK (Netherlands, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – We are debating two thorough and informative reports on a key issue: the inclusion of investor protection instruments in international trade and investment agreements such as TTIP. This is an important issue with considerable impact on social conditions and business.

      The reports approach the issue from different vantage points. I shall forgo discussion of Mr Omtzigt’s report and concentrate on those differences. In the view of my group, Mr Davies’s report provides a convincing argument against the inclusion of ICS provisions in new generation trade and investment agreements, particularly between advanced countries. Legal protection for investors is comprehensive and robust, so there is therefore no need in principle for the creation of the ICS. Therefore, the inclusion of the ICS is either completely superfluous and unnecessary or it creates new rights to which only foreign investors have access and domestic parties do not. Mr Omtzigt’s report largely bypasses this inequality.

      Secondly, as Mr Davies shows, the way in which the ICS is designed creates legal uncertainty because it fails to introduce a doctrine of precedent. Constructed in such a way, the ICS lacks consistency and confronts investors and governments alike with unpredictability. This is contrary to the claims often made in support of the ICS. Obviously, investor protection agreements exist, and to the extent that new comprehensive trade and investment agreements will still be concluded, which is increasingly uncertain, it is likely that they will include such provisions. In reality, it is necessary to look closer at the conditions in which that might happen.

      In order to avoid having the Assembly debating two mutually exclusive resolutions, we have attempted to amend both draft resolutions so as to express an agreement between both sides to disagree on the ultimate desirability of the ICS, and to agree on a number of minimum safeguards to account for some of the most heavily criticized aspects of the ICS, ensuring that ICS clauses are fully compliant with ECHR provisions and case law, providing an exit option for governments after a reasonable period, and making sure that only actually incurred damages can be claimed, not foregone future earnings. Under such conditions, the resolutions would be acceptable to our group.

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – I thank the rapporteurs for their well-prepared reports and for their dedication to spending long hours to find a compromise, even though some points remain on which we will decide.

      Important political issues are at stake, as the reports show. The massive response by civil society to the European Commission’s public calls for submissions, with more than 150 000 submissions from bodies such as powerful trade unions, business associations and non-governmental organisations, was a clear sign of the seriousness of the issues. Investment arbitration is now entering a new phase of its development and the features of traditional arbitration are not flexible enough to meet the needs of modern international dispute resolution. There is now a growing trend of recognising the flaws of the system as regards democratic processes and a number of rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

      The proposed Investment Court System is expected to serve as a compromise between traditional investor-State dispute settlement clauses and purely national remedies. Therefore the main task of the new mechanism is to balance the interests of foreign investors and the host State. Now there is a big political dispute in Brussels about the trade and investment protection agreements under negotiation by the European Union, especially with the United States and with Canada – TTIP and CETA. The dispute concerns first of all the countries that are members of the European Union and, as our rapporteur noted, in the European Union there are European Union laws and domestic laws that protect them. However, the proposed international Investment Court System is also very interesting for the European countries outside the European Union.

      The ICS mechanism can serve as a blueprint for improving dispute settlement mechanisms for investment agreements in general. Such improvement is very much in the interest of smaller countries, which need to attract foreign investment for further development. Investors often worry about the fair and efficient functioning of the court systems in the countries where they invest and can be reassured by the arbitration mechanisms put in place for them offered by this report. Of course, a number of alternative solutions are proposed to the current problems. These solutions include the improvement of the investor-State dispute settlement system or the improvement of national courts, instead of their being circumvented. However, we should face the reality that such reforms need much more time and effort. The proposed system offers flexibility and contributes to ensure that international dispute settlement is more compatible with human rights.

      Free trade and the fair protection of foreign investments are in the interest of all our citizens. Free trade is a win-win situation, not a zero-sum game. We should not be afraid to uphold this simple truth in the face of populist movements on both extremes of the political spectrum. The EPP therefore supports the report tabled by the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee. I believe the report will be adopted in line with the compromise agreed by rapporteurs Mr Omtzigt and Mr Davies, which is meant to ensure that our message will be heard in Brussels.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group)* – On behalf of my group, I would like to thank the two rapporteurs for their rather different reports. I will concentrate on the critical points.

      We talk about a new generation of free trade agreements. We need to say that they are political agreements, first and foremost; trade comes second. As far as CETA is concerned, Austria has held up its yellow card in terms of subsidiarity. We do not want local authorities to be under pressure to privatise public utilities because of these agreements. That guarantee is not really afforded in TTIP and CETA. Hospitals and health structures have been taken out of those agreements, but generally services are there. CETA is very much a mixed agreement. Some provisions have entered into force transitionally. National parliaments often just have to rubber-stamp agreements enforced at the level of European Union.

      Awards by arbitration panels are often in the millions or billions. Investors are awarded hundreds of millions irrespective of the upshot of arbitration proceedings. There are law offices that specialise in this field. The national governments involved in these arbitration panels are often prepared to settle, which is very much in the interests of investors. We are very much against arbitration panels between States or economic communities where we have fully fledged judicial systems. The US does; the European Union has an excellent ordinary judicial system, and Canada likewise. Why do we need arbitration panels? We only need an arbitration system when there is no legal certainty.

      Employment is another point. As far as Canada is concerned, there is a negative trade balance vis-ŕ-vis the European Union. It is thought that in the first 10 years of CETA’s application, the agreement might be to the detriment of the European Union. There have been calls for a referendum in Austria, so that the country does not sign the agreement.

      Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – I want to make a few comments in relation to CETA and TTIP and to bring out some of the general points about these sorts of agreements.

      It is necessary to base this on fact. These treaties are meant to simultaneously cover liberalisation of market access, regulatory and non-tariff barriers to trade, and rules of trade. The intention is to make it easier for European Union and American or Canadian businesses to invest, sell and grow in one another’s markets. The aim is to increase trade and investment in order to increase growth and employment. Additionally, by agreeing a common set of rules and standards for trade, these agreements are seen as an opportunity to set standards for the future of global trade and global trade deals. It is important to remember that TTIP included a safeguard clause that would allow either partner to remove measures if serious harm to domestic industry were observed. That is an important safeguard and one that is frequently overlooked.

      Some 99% of businesses in the US and the European Union are small and medium; I used to run one. TTIP could have injected some Ł10 billion into the UK economy. I argue that small and medium-sized businesses are most hampered by barriers to trade, and without the legal or financial muscle to overcome those barriers, the benefits of these treaties will escape them. The investor dispute settlement mechanism would protect investors against discrimination in either region. It would not prevent governments from enacting regulatory reforms. Opposition to this agreement ignores the enormous changes taking place in the operation of the law and the widespread use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms right across the sectors involved, in order to not go through courts to settle disputes.

      In particular, these sorts of treaty explicitly will not lower environmental, labour and consumer protection standards. It had been clarified on many occasions throughout the TTIP process that current, existing and future trade policy would not have affected how the UK runs its public services, such as its health service. Negotiators from the United States and the European Union repeatedly made it clear that it would continue to be for European Union member States to make decisions about whether and to what extent they involve the private sector in the provision of public services. The European Union’s chief negotiator on TTIP also reinforced the point that European Union countries will continue to be free to decide how they run their public health systems.

      Mr van de VEN (Netherlands, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – On behalf of ALDE, I studied the report on investor-State arbitration prepared by Mr Omtzigt and the report on “new generation” trade agreements by Mr Davies.

      I would like to thank Mr Omtzigt for the effort he put into writing his report. ALDE agrees with his conclusion on the establishment of a permanent multilateral Investment Court System, as already proposed by the European Union in connection with TTIP. A public arbitration court is an excellent suggestion for the future settlement of disputes with investor States that could arise in connection with cross-border investments by entrepreneurs. I nevertheless concluded from reading the report that the author does not have much practical experience with international investor-State arbitration and cross-border dispute settlement.

      Due to time constraints, I will comment on only a few different aspects of the report. First, I think that small and medium-sized companies typically cannot afford a cross-border dispute settlement costing them 50% of the $8 million mentioned in the report as the average legal costs for both parties in an investor-State arbitration procedure. Typically, only big companies can resort to international dispute settlement by arbitration. I am also not convinced that investor States are the underdog when negotiating and concluding an investment agreement with a foreign entrepreneur. That does not seem to me a realistic representation of the strong negotiating power of a sovereign State in contrast with the position of a private enterprise. Governments are typically the principal. ALDE concludes that the rapporteur’s proposal to establish an Investment Court System is sound and viable. The only reason for voting against the report’s conclusions is the underlying argument for and reasoning behind establishing the ICS.

      I will now comment on the “new generation” trade agreements report. I strongly believe that the rapporteur, Mr Davies, was committed to preparing an interesting report. What struck me, however, is the report’s rather protectionist approach towards international trade agreements. Are our peoples better off without TTIP? Are our democracies and our human rights better off when we stick to traditional European products and do not open up our markets to other and/or innovative products? Do we still believe that the steam train was a menace to society? Is our export served if we take a hostile view towards foreign markets? Indeed, should the rule of law be used for protectionism? ALDE does not subscribe to the draft resolution or the report on new generation trade agreements.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr van de Ven.

      Both rapporteurs have the chance to respond now or at the end. Do you wish to respond now? That is not the case. We shall therefore resume with the speakers list. As Mr Šircelj is not here, I call Mr Gopp.

      Mr GOPP (Liechtenstein)* – First, let me thank the rapporteurs for their reports. The worldwide trend we are seeing in this area concerns me greatly. A surreptitious trend is playing out in favour of the powerful, making them more powerful while those who are smaller are being sold down the river. My country has a small internal market, so free trade agreements are very important. For a number of years, Liechtenstein has gone down the path of bilateral free trade agreements, often doing so with Switzerland. Countries such as mine often come up against limitations, such as when attempting to negotiate a dual taxation agreement with other countries, for example. For bigger partners a so-called “tax information exchange agreement” was deemed sufficient and in individual cases a dual taxation agreement was difficult to negotiate.

      Another point of concern is touched on in the report: the regulatory mania that we are all subjected to and which is often imposed upon us by the USA. Small countries cannot keep their head above water and have to establish expensive and disproportionate administrative machinery. Companies have to run the gauntlet of bureaucracy just to engage in business – this is far removed from the free market. We often find that this protectionist position is being advocated by major players, particularly the USA. If trade agreements such as CETA and TTIP indeed establish a level playing field for us all, we would have no objections – we would all profit or benefit from that – but if this a case of the major players wanting to hold sway and ensure that the terms of trade are very much in their favour, that is alarming.

      If we have the ICS making it possible for major multinationals to interfere in an unacceptable way with the rule of law in individual countries, we have to say no. We cannot have a situation where multinationals can contest legislation that has been enacted in individual countries, as Europe would be selling itself down the river. Despite all the advantages that have been talked about – and which one would acknowledge – that aspect of undermining the rule of law is an absolute no-go. It is a reason for interrupting or putting an end to negotiations. These free trade agreements have to be stripped of any possibility of multinationals undermining ecological, environmental, democratic and human rights legislation. On foreign investors, we need to create a propitious context for their investments, so individual countries are tasked with creating that favourable climate for investment.

      A new generation of trade agreements is therefore not required in some countries, but we should not be protecting the countries that are not in a position to create that conducive investment environment. We have to ensure that trade agreements are based on an ethical foundation – a level playing field, in other words – but they should not contain restrictions or regulations that would not be viable or feasible for small countries.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Gopp.

      As Mr Gutiérrez is not here, I call Mr Scully.

      Mr SCULLY (United Kingdom) – We have talked a lot about free trade and the need for it. One argument that is often used about TTIP, particularly by those on the left, tends in fact to be a rally against globalisation and wider free trade arguments. I was looking at my American computer this morning and I have my Korean-made phone here with me. Some members may be flying back to their home countries on a plane with bits made in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. So we can see that free trade and wider free trade have a significant role to play in creating jobs, and improving the lives of people and the wealth of countries. Free trade also has a role to play in sustainable development. When we look at the inertia in the protectionist approaches taken by the European Union and by other countries, we see that it can affect developing countries. For example, with Africa we have a 7.5% tariff on roasted coffee and a 30% tariff on refined cocoa products such as chocolate bars, which means that countries such as Germany are making more money from coffee than the whole of Africa put together is. Therefore opening up and having market liberalisation can only be a good thing for our countries and for developing countries.

      Obviously, however, there needs to be protection, not only for multinational companies, but for small companies. We have to get that balance right. If companies are investing in an economy in another part of the world, they need some protection; their investment cannot just be lost overnight because of a seizure of assets or a change in the law that makes their investment worthless. We already have 1 400 agreements across the European Union that include investor-State dispute settlement provisions, so it is not something we should fear, although we do need to get it right. Four guarantees are contained in a lot of the agreements in the draft TTIP – we do not know whether it will get approved or not. Those include the ability to have monopolies, be they public or private, in certain sectors; and the ability to refuse access to the market in areas such as healthcare, social services, education and the supply of water. All those incredibly important public services have a degree of protection, as some speakers have mentioned. We need to make sure that they are maintained and that we talk about those things freely, so that the myths about ISDS do not perpetuate in future trade agreements.

      Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – Mr President, dear colleagues, first let me thank Mr Davies for his report on trade agreements. He emphasises two important points. The first is that we need international trade agreements. The second is that these agreements should never put aside our democratic bodies’ competences on social welfare. We could also draw the line back to our debate on Wednesday about reinforcing social dialogue as an instrument for stability and decreasing inequalities. As was mentioned in that debate, there seems to be a growing distrust in the European Union’s ability to secure ordinary people’s everyday needs through access to decent jobs. We will not succeed in rebuilding trust or in facilitating decent jobs if corporate interests are allowed to trump public policies in important areas such as social rights, labour protection, taxation, collective bargaining, public health or ensuring a sustainable environment. The negotiators of trade agreements should never compromise on that.

      A propos of "trump", let me point out that in the last few days the list of trade agreements has been shortened, as Mr Trump decided to suspend both the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Whether the disputed TTIP and the Trade in Services Agreement negotiations will end up the same way is yet to be seen. Nevertheless, we will still need existing agreements, as well as new ones, both now and in the future.

      This month, our rapporteur even received support from unexpected sources. In Davos, a leading businessman gave a speech on the challenges for decent international businesses resulting from a worldwide lack of trust in leaders and a just as worrying lack of long-term vision on the Sustainable Development Goals. His message was clear: to address this lack of trust, leaders have to adopt inclusive approaches and attitudes. Let us support decent businesses by negotiating decent trade agreements.

      Martin Schulz warned that the EU is in danger of falling apart and urged supporters to fight to keep it alive. Decent jobs for all could be a path to renewed trust. Also worth mentioning is a statement from the Nordic Council of Ministers for Labour, who said there is no “one size fits all” solution to social progress. The efforts of member States to ensure sound public finances while respecting labour rights should be recognised. Likewise, we must ensure that a possible Trade in Services Agreement can neither impose privatisation of public services on any country, nor prohibit them to undo previous decisions on the matter. No doubt, the ICS might very well be used for such purposes. Thus, I find Mr Davies’s warnings highly relevant.

      Ms HIGGINS (Ireland) – I thank the rapporteurs, Mr Davies and Mr Omtzigt, for their thoughtful and detailed reports and for the work they have put into building co-operation together.

      My view is very much that the ICS is not a necessary mechanism. Indeed, I believe that we have adequate legal provision throughout Europe, including, of course, many common policies on public procurement. Moreover, as Europe is a large market, I do not accept the argument that investors will not invest with Europe if we do not provide these additional mechanisms. In a time of protectionism in other parts of the world, Europe should be confident in itself as a trading partner. We should ensure that we get trade agreements that are decent, and that reflect and protect our values in every way.

      I will not enumerate the record of ISDS, as we have heard about it. ISDS mechanisms have led to costly measures and rulings against countries such as Ecuador when it sought to assert environmental rights. Canada, the partner in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, is one of the countries that have been most subject to cases under ISDS mechanisms including, for example, the case of Lone Pine Resources against the province of Quebec, when it simply sought to have a brief moratorium on fracking. The ISDS’s legacy and record is clear; there is case law. Alongside that case law are the many cases in which issues have been settled, where there has been a chilling effect and where countries have decided not to proceed with the regulation due to the fear that it may come with a compensatory price tag that could amount to millions or billions.

      The ICS reforms have been won the civil society movements and those who have been willing to challenge. We talk about misinformation, but let us be clear that there is detailed analysis and examination of the information. Those who have put forward 150 000 submissions and those who have signed petitions across Europe have shown that they are willing and able to engage with trade issues, and it is largely their pressure that has led to the reforms so far. Those reforms have not gone far enough. There is transparency but not accountability. Although there is the right to regulate, that regulation could still come with a compensatory price tag. We also know that these courts are only accessible to corporations, not to States.

      We are looking into a new experiment: a negative list system. For the very first time, everything that is not explicitly excluded from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement will be included. I welcome the recommendations and that we have ensured that the protection of property is not extended to the protection of profit. I support the amendment regarding limits for actual damages, and the assertion of the importance of the European Court of Human Rights, but I regret that the ICS has not been referred to the European Court of Justice. By making strong markers on the European Court of Human Rights, we can send a message of reassurance and rebuild trust with the citizenry of Europe.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Higgins.

      As Mr di Stefano is not here, I call Ms Günay.

      Ms GÜNAY (Turkey) – I congratulate Mr Davies on his timely report on “new generation” trade agreements and their implications. I share the rapporteurs’ concerns and support the recommendations of the draft resolution.

      Many regional trade agreements have been established since the 1990s, including major new negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The whole idea of these “new generation” trade agreements is to open markets between partners, leading to a more efficient division of labour, technology spillovers and related productivity growth. Larger multilateral agreements can be viewed as a step toward competitive liberalisation. However, there are widespread concerns about their environmental, judicial, democratic and social impacts, as is clearly stated in the draft resolution. In addition, these agreements have not been negotiated transparently, and have not received public and parliamentary scrutiny.

      I do not know whether we should still discuss the pros and cons of “new generation” trade agreements after President Trump withdrew from TPP through one of his first executive orders on 23 January. Is the next step TTIP? “New generation” trade agreements have already become history. The continuing economic crisis, primarily in the US and Europe, has had a direct dampening impact on global trade flows along with a negative impact on jobs and incomes. In addition, austerity measures are implemented as national fiscal policies to reduce sovereign debt. Austerity measures and slow growth have led to decreased international trade as consumer and industrial demand evaporates, resulting in more protectionism in trade. In addition, let us not forget that there is strong opposition to TTIP from trade unions, environmental groups and other groups in Europe, which claim that TTIP undermines democracy by giving multinationals the power to dictate public policy.

      The introduction of an array of protectionist measures in reaction to the global economic crisis obliges us to continue closely to monitor the development of protectionism and to design new trade measures to counteract it. These “new new generation” trade measures or bilateral agreements will shape up the new global trade environment. Despite the introduction of various protectionist measures during the global crisis and afterwards, how will world trade recover? The US has long supported free trade and is now torn between a protectionist president and the reality of the global business community. What will be the impact of terminating TTIP, alongside Brexit, on the EU? Does the world face the risk of currency and trade wars? What will be the role of the World Trade Organization in the new trade environment? Will the Doha round collapse? Will we witness bilateral trade agreements between large export countries? Now is the right time to answer those questions and to develop a new trade policy to avoid trade wars.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – I thank Mr Davies for an excellent report.

      Both TTIP and CETA include proposals that can cause major negative consequences for the countries in focus. They are clearly oriented towards increased privatisation, deregulation and weakened legislation in a number of areas. In the long run, they could have a negative impact for agriculture, food security, the climate, the environment, energy, public services and workers’ rights. It is clear that the only real winners are big businesses. The agreements have therefore rightly, and not surprisingly, been met with widespread criticism from trade unions, and environmental and consumer organisations, to name a few.

      One of the most controversial parts of the agreements is the proposal for an investment protection and dispute settlement mechanism. Even in its new disguise as the European Union’s Investment Court System model, it will grant foreign companies the right to sue European States if they believe that those countries’ laws or measures damage their investments and reduce their expected profits.

      Transparency around the negotiations has been limited, and there has been little chance to influence them. Only companies’ voices were heard in 92% of the stakeholder meetings that the European Commission held when preparing for TTIP. It is not acceptable that the general public were not allowed to see the text of the agreements before the negotiations finished. Parliamentarians were allowed to read them only in specially designed reading rooms, and were not allowed to inform the general public about their findings.

      Many worrying things would happen if the agreements are made a reality. Food quality standards and consumer protection could be weakened, as US standards on food and many other products are often weaker than Europe’s. Workers’ rights and jobs could be endangered. The United States still refuses to recognise basic employees’ rights and has ratified only two out of the eight International Labour Organization core labour standards, so the agreements could have negative consequences for both jobs and union rights in Europe.

      I am not against trade or in favour of trade barriers, but it is important that we establish a fair trade policy that does not worsen the situation for citizens in the countries involved. We all need to work to create a fair and just trade policy that benefits society as a whole – people, animals and the environment – and increases social benefits. That is more important than huge profits for large companies.

      Mr GYÖNGYÖSI (Hungary) – I, too, am grateful to the two rapporteurs for their excellent, courageous and balanced report. Since the 1990s, we have had ongoing debates about free trade and the TTIP and CETA agreements. Representatives and supporters of big businesses and corporate interests have promoted the idea of free trade throughout the world, and there have been a number of one-sided, unbalanced reports and accounts of how free trade is going to further our societies globally.

      On 8 May 2014, the European Union issued a report that set out those arguments and said that economic growth would improve and unemployment and poverty would decrease if we get rid of customs barriers and harmonise regulations across our continent. We heard all those arguments when the North American Free Trade Agreement was drafted, but after 25 years we can see its disastrous consequences. Just look at the inequality and poverty in countries such as Mexico. As my colleagues said, ISDS and arbitration mechanisms have led to Canada being sued.

      I am grateful for this balanced, courageous and clear report, which contains brilliant common-sense arguments. It recognises the great opposition that trade unions, civil society organisations, NGOs and the people of this continent have expressed towards those free-trade negotiations. We have talked a lot about the arbitration courts and the ISDS mechanisms. We all know scary examples of the effects of ISDS arbitration. Australia was sued by Philip Morris for introducing health regulations, and Egypt was sued by the French company Veolia for increasing its minimum wage. In Hungary, we fear that anti-GMO regulations in our constitutions will be the basis of a successful arbitration if ISDS or ICS mechanisms are introduced.

      The danger of harmonising standards between the US and the European Union is enormous, given that one party to the agreements – namely the United States – is not subject to the Kyoto Protocol, the Stockholm Convention or the Basel Convention, which protect our world from dangerous chemicals, waste and pollution. It would be enormously dangerous to harmonise regulations with the United States.

      The issue of transparency was mentioned a number of times. It is greatly concerning that the agreements were negotiated in complete secrecy. It did not help that Cecilia Malmström, the European Union’s trade commissioner, went on a roadshow just one week before signing the agreements.

      Once again, I thank both rapporteurs for this very courageous, clear and balanced report.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Gyöngyösi.

      We have concluded the list of speakers, so we now come to the responses from the committees. I call Mr Davies, rapporteur for the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. You have seven minutes left.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – We have had a full and frank debate. As I made clear at the outset, I am very much in favour of trade – I have a background in international companies – but there is already massive trade among the United States, Canada and Europe. We would obviously like more, but that trade occurs under the existing protections, so our committee took the view that we do not need extra ones. To align our view with that of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, we said that we should sign up to those extra protections only if they are subject to considerable safeguards that would give individual countries an opt-out. We must ensure that the regulations of the European Court of Human Rights are binding and that there is a limitation on claims for damages.

      Our committee focused on the balance of risk. On the one hand, ICS will give extra protection to investors in certain situations, but the downside is the risk to democracies and countries that try, for example, to protect their children from diabetes, as Mexico is doing with fizzy drinks, or protect their populations from smoking. Philip Morris is trying to establish a precedent to prevent African countries and developing nations from opposing widespread smoking. As we have heard, there was an attempt to prevent Egypt from increasing the minimum wage, and when Slovakia tried to reverse privatisation it got sued by a Dutch insurance company. There are problems, and if ICS goes ahead the safeguards need to be gold-plated.

      There has been talk about small and medium-sized businesses. Some speakers said that ICS would be good for small businesses. Others rightly said that the threshold of investment for small businesses to join ICS is prohibitive, so smaller businesses are better off resorting to public law. There are established systems of public law in the US, Canada and the European Union.

      We are moving into a new world. President Trump said, “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.” As has been said, the United States is not part of the Kyoto Protocol, and President Trump hopes to row back on the commitments that President Obama made about the Paris Agreement. It is important that we do everything we can to prevent our attempts at developing a sustainable world – not just a sustainable Europe – from being undercut. It is imperative that we do not allow tribunals simply to drive a coach and horses through our express wishes to create a sustainable world.

      It is clear that our committee has great scepticism about ICS and feels that it is not necessary, but Pieter’s committee feels that we do need it. The position we are moving towards is that, in the event that ICS goes ahead, it should be subject to strict safeguards that protect our democratic voice and our fundamental values. Countries should be given the option of pulling out, and the overall amount of costs that can be claimed should be restricted.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, rapporteur. Does the vice-chair of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development wish to add anything?

      Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – The committee has listened to the debate and considered the amendments. It supports the revised document.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Kürkçü. I now call Mr Omtzigt, the rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. You have seven minutes.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – I thank colleagues for an interesting debate, in which a number of questions were raised.

      Mr Howell rightly pointed out that TTIP does contain safeguards. Some people would like to think there are none but there are, especially on regulation.

      To Mr Overbeek I would say that in a number of countries foreign investors are largely unprotected, which is why the ISDS was developed in the first place. I understand the critique of the ISDS, which is why I am very happy that the European Commission moved on the ICS proposal. It is not a completely private court system, as we can see in the report, and it does contain guarantees.

      I note, in response to Ms Higgins, that the compromise means States have power. If you have the power to exit from a mechanism, the chance of getting a runaway judge is much smaller. The amendments explicitly state that one cannot claim more than the damages incurred. That is fully in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. It is for the protection of investment, not spurious claims.

      Mr van de Ven obviously has more experience on this and on the cost to small and medium-sized enterprises than I do, so I will not get into an argument with him. I have not been in these courts, unfortunately. The whole idea of ICS is that it will be easier for smaller companies.

      I was impressed – a number of members mentioned this – that 150 000 people signed a petition. To organise that is no small feat.

      On transparency, the proposed ICS system would be a lot more transparent. Our draft resolution welcomes that. We want full transparency for every claim lodged and every result. They should be in a public register. There must be no secret deals anywhere. We call on all States to not only implement ICS but to renegotiate all old ISDS clauses that are not transparent and do not respect other rulings, and bring them up to ICS standards. That is a very important part of our report.

      On whether negotiations can be fully public, I have to say that they cannot. The European Commission cannot, at every point, openly and publicly state its negotiation position, unless it wants to make itself a lot more vulnerable to the Americans. I agree that parliamentarians should have more information. I can even envisage the committee of the European Parliament having meetings behind closed doors during negotiations at which minutes are taken and published afterwards. Yet if the European Parliament was to publicly say, “You can do this, but you can’t do that” and publish the European negotiators’ mandate, we would end up with a much weaker deal. Quite frankly, that is the trade-off of having openness during a negotiation.

      On the idea that we, as parliamentarians, are allowed to read the text and not take any notes, I would say I can handle a lot, but not a treaty of this size. I would not be able to understand it fully in a closed reading room.

      I say to Mr Gyöngyösi that there has to be some harmonisation of regulation. Trade agreements reached without accepting each other’s regulation would only ensure the ability to block trade at will. We should respect treaties, such as the Kyoto Treaty and other commitments, but there is a balance to be struck. We have to constantly look for that balance and not use it as a tool in a trade war, because that would mean that any trade could be blocked. I know that some countries will claim that there is, say, a small animal on Dutch flowers which means that they can completely block the trade of Dutch flowers whenever they want. That is the best way of blocking free trade. On the other hand, one of the contested examples given was GMO. That is a trade-off, but that is why we have treaties – to find the right trade-off.

      I thank colleagues very much for this interesting debate and I look forward to voting. Mr Davies and I – well, I will speak for myself. The committees reached a position on the reports after a dispute settlement system between parliamentarians. If you follow the advice of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, then the resolution will be implemented in the way we intended it to be implemented.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Omtzigt. Does the vice-chairperson wish to add anything on behalf of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – I thank both rapporteurs for a very interesting debate. We have made a lot of progress over the past few months, but we have to make much more progress in the future. This will not be the last debate on the issue.

      On behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, let me say that our rapporteur, Mr Omtzigt, has the committee’s full support. The report was unanimously adopted in December. He had our full support in the negotiations this week. Yesterday afternoon, the committee unanimously supported his position on amendments tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. He achieved an overwhelming majority. He went as far as he could without losing the support of his own camp. He compromised with the Social Affairs Committee’s rapporteur, Mr Davies. Both some of that committee’s amendments and some of our committee’s amendments were accepted yesterday afternoon by both committees.

      I sincerely hope that we will implement the compromise agreed in this plenary session. That would send a strong message to Brussels that, while we agree to disagree on whether the proposed Investment Court System is necessary, we all agree – this is important – that if it is created it must respect a number of conditions relating to human rights and the rule of law. These conditions are listed in our committee’s draft resolution and are further strengthened by the amendments we accepted. I ask everyone to support the resolution with the largest possible majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Schwabe.

      The debate is closed.

      The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft resolution, Document 14225, to which 19 amendments and two sub-amendments have been tabled. I understand that the chairperson of the committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 10, 12, 13, 17 and 19 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly. Is that so, chairperson?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Yes.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone object?

      As there is no objection, I declare that Amendments 10, 12, 13, 17 and 19 to the draft resolution are adopted.

      Amendments 10, 12, 13, 17 and 19 are adopted.

      Amendment 5 was also unanimously approved by the committee, but as a sub-amendment has been proposed, the amendment will nevertheless be considered according to the established procedures.

      We come to Amendment 1. I call Mr Geraint Davies to support Amendment 1 on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – Amendment 1 would simply add the words “However, foreign investors in the European Union are already protected in three ways – by the European Court of Human Rights, European law and domestic law.” I want to put on record the fact that those protections already exist, which is not mentioned in the draft resolution.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Omtzigt to support the sub-amendment.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – We support the amendment wholeheartedly, but a number of members of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights have pointed out that the domestic law that it refers to is in European Union member States, so we want to add that point.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment?

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – That’s fine.

      The PRESIDENT* – I presume that the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights is in favour of the sub-amendment. Is that the case?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – The committee is in favour, by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

      Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – The committee is in favour, by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 1, as amended, is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 2. I call Mr Geraint Davies to support the amendment on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The committee tabled the amendment to point out that there have been very few cases in which there has been a problem with discrimination against inward investors in Europe. Unfortunately, the amendment states that there have been no cases, which is not correct. I propose, if it is in order, that we change “no” to “few”.

      The PRESIDENT* – We will take note of that point. Does anyone wish to oppose such a correction? That is not the case.

      Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on the amendment, as corrected?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Against, unanimously.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 2 is rejected.

      We come to amendment 3. I call Mr Geraint Davies to support the amendment on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – Paragraph 5.1. of the draft resolution notes that there are many ISDS relationships. However, in nearly all of them the European Union is the big player investing in a smaller State and we therefore face no risk, whereas in the new ICS the big players will be Canada and America investing in us, so we will face that risk. The amendment therefore notes that “the primary investor in the vast majority of these cases has been the European Union in smaller third countries that do not have the triple-lock investor protection”.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – There are quite a number of ICS treaties, even between European Union member States. I do not remember which speaker said so, but there have been ISDS disputes between the Netherlands and the UK on one side and countries such as Slovakia, Poland and Slovenia on the other. The amendment is not factually true, so I propose that we do not agree to it.

      The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on the amendment?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Against, unanimously.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 3 is rejected.

      We come to amendment 4. I call Mr Geraint Davies to support the amendment on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The amendment would insert a statement of fact, which is that at the moment, “the parties do not normally have the right of appeal; the tribunals can be inconsistent in their verdicts and may not respect the doctrine of precedent”. There is a hope that the ICS will counter some of those problems in ISDS.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on the amendment?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – In favour, by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 4 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 5, which has a sub amendment.

      I call Mr Geraint Davies to support Amendment 5 on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The amendment simply says “There are a number of competing arbitration systems that have not had the benefit of transparent iterative evolution similar to that of the delivery of justice in public law in mature democracies.” We have mature, established judiciaries and the arbitration systems – of which there are many competing ones – are still evolving. That again is a statement of facts.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Omtzigt to support the sub-amendment.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – A number of these mechanisms are quite new, and they are quite an improvement because they deal with the deficiencies of ISDS, which we mentioned in our report, one of which is that there is no legal precedent. The use of these mechanisms will get us a legal precedent, so we are very happy that these new ways are there. That is why we propose to add the word “yet”, because they are so new. At some point they will benefit from precedent.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment?

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – I accept the sub-amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – I presume that the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights is in favour of the sub-amendment.

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Yes.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

      Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 5, as amended, is adopted.

      The PRESIDENT* – We come to Amendment 6. I call Mr Davies to support the amendment.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The amendment says “However, international trade between the EU, Canada and the United States is well established under existing protections”. That again is a statement of fact. The debate is on whether we want additional protections.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – There is obviously trade between those countries, but the statement is a bit superfluous. It is therefore unnecessary to include it.

      The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 6 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 7. I call Mr Davies to support the amendment.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The amendment makes a point that has already been agreed to in amendment 1: there is a triple protection through the European Court of Human Rights, European law and domestic law. That again is a statement of fact and we have already accepted it.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – We accepted Amendment 1, but I do not think we need to repeat the wording. Repetition does not add anything to the resolution. I am not against the content; I am against the amendment for linguistic reasons.

      The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 7 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 8. I call Mr Davies to support the amendment.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The amendment would add, “Once implemented, such arrangements would persist for twenty years without being open to change or improvement by the European Parliament.” That is to make the point that, in CETA at the moment, we would be bound for 20 years. The move by both committees is to say that it should be limited to one year to individual countries. The amendment is to acknowledge the 20-year duration and to say that we want to make a change.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – We will later propose that you should be able to get out after one year, with investment protection still for about six years. The trade arrangements are not always the same – they are not always 20 years – so that is why we are against the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 8 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 9. I call Mr Davies to support the amendment.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The amendment simply says that “in developed countries such as the United States, Canada and…the European Union, ISDS clauses and a permanent, multilateral ICS are not necessary to protect foreign investors.” That was our original position, which was that we did not think they were necessary, but as has been discussed in the debate, we are moving towards saying that, if we do have them, we need protections around them.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – This is the essence of the disagreement. We think they are necessary, but the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development thinks they are not. We will later come to the compromise that says that some of us think they are necessary while others do not.

      The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 9 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 11. If Amendment 11 is adopted, Amendment 16 falls. I call Mr Davies to support the amendment.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – I need to formally move the amendment, but I think it may be superseded.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – As Mr Davies pointed out, we agree on Amendment 16. The original text is the position of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights that ICS is needed. Amendment 11 is the position against ICS. Amendment 16 shows that some are in favour and some are against and says that, if it is done, please adhere to strict conditions. That is why I strongly oppose amendment 11.

      The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 11 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 16. I call Mr Overbeek to support the amendment.

      Mr OVERBEEK (Netherlands) – Our discussion has focused on trade but really it is not about trade but about the freedom of movement of capital. That makes it necessary to guarantee human rights in all aspects of such treaties. We therefore strongly urge the Assembly to adopt the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – In favour

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 16 is adopted.

      Amendment 12 was adopted unanimously, as was Amendment 13, so we come to Amendment 14. I call Mr Davies to support the amendment.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The amendment is self-explanatory. The rulings of the ICS should obviously concur with the European Court of Human Rights.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – I agree with the substance of the amendment, but our Amendment 19, which has already been agreed unanimously, does exactly the same thing and states that the ICS and ISDS mechanisms should always be bound by the European Convention on Human Rights and the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, which means that anyone can appeal here in Strasbourg if necessary. That wording is better, which is why I am against the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Against, by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 14 is rejected.

      Amendment 17 was unanimously adopted, so we come to Amendment 18. I call Mr Henk Overbeek to support the amendment.

      Mr OVERBEEK (Netherlands) – The amendment states that claims under ICS provisions should be limited to actual damages incurred and not extend to any future loss of potential profits.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – In favour, by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 18 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 15. I call Mr Davies to support the amendment.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The amendment says that we should review the current ISDS clauses and bring them up to date with the ICS. It also raises the question of whether any are eligible for change – my understanding is that some are not, but that is matter of debate.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – Even if in the ICS treaty a clause is not eligible for change, you are dealing with a bilateral trade agreement, so you still have the option of saying, “I will not continue with this agreement.” We therefore believe that, surprisingly, our original text is a bit stronger than the amendment proposed by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, because we strive to review all ISDS agreements and not just those you can formally change. That is why I would like to keep the original text.

      The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – Unanimously against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 15 is rejected.

      Amendment 19 was unanimously adopted, so we will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14225, as amended. A simple majority is required.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 14225, as amended, is adopted, with 48 votes for, 3 against and 5 abstentions.

      The PRESIDENT* – The Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development has presented a draft resolution, Document 14219, to which seven amendments and one sub-amendment have been tabled.

      I understand that the Chair of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendment 2 to the draft resolution, which was unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly. Amendments 4, 6 and 7 were also unanimously approved by the committee, but as there are sub-amendments proposed or consequential effects we will consider them accordingly to established practice. Is that the case?

      Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – Yes.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone object? As there is no objection, I declare that Amendment 2 to the draft resolution has been adopted.

      Amendment 2 is adopted.

      The other amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear in the compendium and the Organisation of Debates. I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

      We come to Amendment 3. If Amendment 3 is adopted, Amendments 4, 1, 5, 6 and 7 fall. I call Mr Omtzigt to support the amendment.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – I do not wish to move the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – In that case, we will have to deal with all the other amendments.

      We come to Amendment 4. I call Mr Omtzigt to support the amendment.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – The draft resolution says that the ICS is private. It is not fully private; there is a large public involvement. That is why we propose to delete the word “private”.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is the not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

       Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – Unanimously in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 4 is adopted.

       We come to Amendment 1. If Amendment 1 is adopted, Amendments 5, 6 and 7 fall. I call Mr Jokin Bildarratz to support the amendment.

      Mr BILDARRATZ (Spain)* – The aim is to stress the important role that could be played by arbitration courts, while obviously constantly defending the general interest of the public over the private sphere and not vice versa, so what we are requesting is support within the law for the general interest to prevail in arbitration courts.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – As we say in our reframed proposal, the ICS should not be in CETA or TTIP, but should be part of an additional protocol, so that a country can choose whether or not to enter into it. I disagree with the author of the amendment. As we clearly showed in my report, which we discussed earlier, it is necessary to have some provision for dispute settlement in a number of cases, so I am against the amendment and in favour – we will come to this later – of getting that into the additional protocol.

      The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?

       Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey)* – Against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 1 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 5. I call Mr Omtzigt to support the amendment.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – As I explained earlier, the proposed investor powers are regarded by some as necessary and by some as unnecessary. The amendment would make clear that disagreement.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is the not the case

      What is the opinion of the committee?

       Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 5 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 6. I call Mr Omtzigt to support the amendment.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – This is similar to the previous amendment. As has been noted, the amendment was adopted unanimously by the committee.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – Unanimously in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 6 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 7, to which a sub-amendment has been tabled. I call Mr Omtzigt to support Amendment 7. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – Amendment 7 provides a key ingredient by saying that the ICS should be fully in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights, which is what we all believe. The amendment also moves partially towards what Mr Bildarratz wanted by providing that there should be an optional protocol so that you could have the trade agreement without the court system. It is perfectly possible to have trade without ISDS – for example, the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement includes trade but does not yet include ISDS – but you may want to have it for legal certainty.

      The PRESIDENT* – We come to the sub-amendment. I call Mr Geraint Davies to support the sub-amendment.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The sub-amendment would replace the words “should have an optional protocol for exit” with the words “should be included in an optional protocol to trade agreements for exit”. This is just a technical, grammatical, legal point, and there is no substantial difference between what we are saying. I am agreeing with Amendment 7, but the sub-amendment would just tidy it up in legal terms.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment? I call Mr Pieter Omtzigt.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – I presume that the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development agrees.

      Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – The committee was unanimously in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

      Does anyone wish to speak against the main amendment, as amended? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) –In favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 7, as amended, is adopted.

      Amendment 2 was adopted unanimously, so we will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14219, as amended. A simple majority is required.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 14219, as amended, is adopted, with 46 votes for, 2 against and 6 abstentions.

3. Promoting the inclusion of Roma and Travellers

      The PRESIDENT* – Ladies and gentlemen, the next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report titled “Promoting the inclusion of Roma and Travellers”, Document 14149, presented by Mr Tobias Zech on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.

      In order to complete this part of the agenda, including the vote, by 12.30 p.m., I shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 12.20 p.m. to ensure that we can listen to the committee’s response before proceeding with the vote.

      I call Mr Tobias Zech, rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total.

      Mr ZECH (Germany)* – Ladies and gentlemen, today in the last debate this week we will be talking about improving the integration of Roma and Travellers in member States of the Council of Europe.

      When we talk about Roma and Travellers, we are talking about 11 million people who live in practically all member States of the Council of Europe. In every country, Roma and Travellers are among the poorest part of the population, with limited access to employment and education, poor living conditions, high unemployment and difficult education opportunities. However, it is not all bad, as we have seen many examples of positive inclusion of Roma in the many countries that we have visited. In the report, we mention – we describe them as “lighthouses”, or role models – examples of Roma who are excellent models and representatives for their community, including lawyers, police officers and successful business men and women, and such “lighthouses” do exist.

      Our report does not propose a uniform blueprint for setting out ways in which we should promote integration and inclusion in the different countries, because every country is different and must find its own way of promoting inclusion and integration of Roma and Travellers. However, this problem is not limited to certain countries or regions in Europe but is a challenge that faces us in Europe as a whole, and we have to tackle it collectively.

      In my report, I have brought together a number of points that I view as particularly important, and one of the main issues for me is access to education. As I see it, if you do not have access to good schooling and education, you cannot hope to get a good job and thereby improve your life and earn the money that you need to live properly. There are several possibilities in terms of the support provided by the European Union, national governments and NGOs when it comes to improving education opportunities, but one of the main objectives must be to improve school attendance of Roma children. That requires convincing parents of the importance of school education. Parents must see schools as a partner, working with them to improve their children’s futures, and should be encouraged to send them to school rather than keep them at home to work. We must promote school attendance as well as helping children by giving them a good education.

      We are talking about members of one of the largest minorities in the European Union, and anti-Gypsyism and hate speech are prevalent throughout the European Union. Moreover, this is not just a phenomenon that has appeared over the past decade. It has been a constant in Europe’s history over the past 300 years. As members of the Council of Europe here in the Parliamentary Assembly we have taken a decisive stance against hate speech and discrimination and we have always underpinned our position by stating that we are not calling for tolerance – that is the wrong way forward, as it just means living parallel lives. We want people to live together rather than in parallel. That is why we in the Council of Europe call not for tolerance but for acceptance, which has to be a two-way street, of course. We should not just put up with other groups; we should actively accept them.

      One of the pre-requisites of that is for us to understand Roma and Traveller culture and history. Fortunately, we have been able to draw on the work leading to the setting up of the European Roma Institute, which has been pencilled in for Berlin. The idea is to create a better understanding of Roma culture and improve Roma’s sense of their identity and meaning. The work of the institute will feed into inclusion projects. Some of the existing projects work well, others less well, and I think it is important to improve monitoring methods – the report says this. When money is spent – such as the cohesion money that is targeted at the very poorest segment of the population; that is, those Roma who simply cannot participate actively in society – that spending should be designed better to integrate them in society, and we should monitor how that money is spent. This is a task that member States must take on. We can use NGOs for implementation, but when it comes to monitoring the spending of public money we as parliamentarians have an important role to play.

      There is clearly now something of a market for NGOs in the field of Roma promotion. In many cases, some NGOs create problems that they are then paid to solve so we need them not to spend their time on unimportant projects but to focus their efforts on major overarching projects designed to reduce discrimination and improve inclusion. It is also important that we clearly identify the right level at which such programmes should be introduced.

      During my many visits, most people agreed that inclusion should be a horizontal effort covering many different projects and conducted sustainably. If you have local authorities and mayors who really care about their local minorities, giving them access to employment and education, conditions for those minorities are improved. This requires strong municipalities and strong regions and those are the areas that will succeed in securing better integration and inclusion.

      Finally, we must be aware that over the past few decades Europe and the Council of Europe have always had an eye for the problems of minorities. We have been talking about the question of Roma and Travellers for many years and we will, of course, continue to have to do this. The report is certainly not a destination; it is a step along a road. We can use it to send out a signal that we intend to continue to try to secure better rights and inclusion for Roma and Travellers. We need to trumpet examples of best practice. We all know what does not work, but what we need are examples of very good programmes – we have many of them in our member States and we should share best practice to demonstrate that effective integration and inclusion works. We should pin our hopes on long-term projects. You cannot bring about major changes in the integration of Roma in five or 10 years. These are long-term projects that require long-term efforts and commitments. That is quite clear,

      Finally, I want to say a special work of thanks to the Hungarian and Bulgarian delegations, which have been of great help to me. I have spoken to them lots and they helped me on my visits to the country. I spoke to the governments, the local authorities and, of course, the Roma communities in those two countries. I thank the NGOs that have helped me and, above all, in the secretariat of the committee, Sarah Burton, who worked so hard in writing the report and supported me on my visits. I have enjoyed working with you very much. I look forward to a lively debate.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Zech. You have four minutes left to respond to the debate.

      I call Ms Kovács to speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

      Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – On behalf of my political group, I extend our thanks to the rapporteur for the effort he invested in preparing the report.

      When we talk about the Roma integration policy, it is necessary to highlight the gap between the achievements and the reality. The key problem in most of the Council of Europe member States is systemic discrimination and prejudice, because in cases where we have an educated Roma elite, they are rarely given the opportunity to enter the institutions of the system. The projects of the European Commission, OSCE and others on Roma inclusion have mostly been successfully implemented. In the current period, except for the implementation of projects, unfortunately, significant progress in the number of Roma children attending pre-school education through special and specialised programmes has not been achieved.

      The unfavourable educational structure of the unemployed male and female Roma population remains a key aggravating factor as regards their competitive presence in the labour market. All things considered, the questions remain. How are highly educated Roma males and females in Roma organisations active in contributing, with their education and acquired skills, to the change within the Roma community? In what ways do they change or not, and furthermore, how does the attitude of the non-Roma community that represents the majority population in Council of Europe member States change or not? How does the education system develop a desirable identity for Roma students? Can the education system that includes Roma students today support the desired transition identities of Roma pupils and students and involve them in developing the various components of identity in the future?

      Some Roma students are competent and have knowledge and skills that the education system does not include. For example, the majority of Roma children are bilingual to some degree, knowing their mother tongue and the language of their environment, but such knowledge has no value in the system at any level of education. It seems that today Roma students should forget their language, which is a specific part of their identity, when they enter school and that the building of their identity and their belonging to the community is their private matter.

      Last but not least, I must mention child marriages. I believe that forced marriages and child marriages should no longer take place in our societies. We should uphold human rights and the rights of children by all means. In many European countries, Roma people are victims of child marriages. It is a violation of the human rights of these people. Under the cloak of respect of culture and tradition of the migrant and autochthonous communities, there are still authorities that tolerate child marriages despite the fact that they violate the fundamental rights of each and every victim.

      Ms HIGGINS (Ireland, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group) – I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Zech, for a really strong and nuanced report that includes extremely useful examples and concrete recommendations. On behalf of the Socialist Group, I am very happy to support the report and the amendments, which will strengthen it.

      As Mr Zech said, we have 11 million Roma and Travellers in Europe. It is evident that there is great inequality. Unfortunately, there has often been a lack of data and information on this subject, so I welcome the fact that Mr Zech highlights the need for greater information and data. In Ireland, following a long campaign by Pavee Point, an organisation representing Travellers, Travellers were included in the census. Only this week, we understood for the first time the level of inequality. Only 9% of the Traveller community are completing second-level education in Ireland, and they are six times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the Irish population. That knowledge should and must spur us on to concrete action. I endorse the previous recommendation from the Council of Europe on this subject: Recommendation 1924. We can strengthen our efforts at every level to deliver it.

      It is clear that education and employment are linked. Education plays a key role. If people are able to progress, it massively diminishes unemployment. For those who have a leaving cert or have been through further education, there is a doubling and trebling of opportunity. Of course, education is not the only obstacle. There are also obstacles, particularly for Roma, to accessing training. The Roma have often found themselves allowed to fall out of or even encouraged and pushed out of access to systems of training.

      I want to highlight the issue of housing, which is mentioned in the report. Appropriate housing provision has been a key failure at a local and national level right across Europe. In Ireland, for example, we have seen a 92% cut in Traveller accommodation under austerity. We also saw the tragic death last year of 10 Travellers in Carrickmines. A collective complaint was taken by the European Roma Rights Centre and the Irish Traveller Movement to the European Committee of Social Rights, here at the Council of Europe.

      It is worth noting that the Council of Europe and the UNHCR have played a key role in taking action and asserting these rights. In Ireland, we are now finalising a new Traveller and Roma inclusion strategy. I welcome its commitment to a partnership between departments, agencies and the Traveller community. I welcome too the fact that the report today is strong on the principles of consultation and engagement, of “nothing about us without us” and of the inclusion of Travellers. The recognition of Traveller and Roma ethnicity is key in them accessing support. We hope to deliver on this issue in Ireland. I support the report and the amendments.

      Mr BILDARRATZ (Spain, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)* – This week, I have learned a great deal, and I have received a few positive messages about refugees. It is very important to receive such messages.

      Two Syrian families attended a sitting of the Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons Committee. Each spoke from a positive standpoint. One was a 21-year-old youngster, helped by Strasbourg city council. After coming all the way from Syria to Strasbourg, he is now studying at the university and working in the city hall. One of the second family was a businessman whose firm had been destroyed in Syria; today, he has been able to start up another business project. That is a positive message. Usually, we hear negative messages, about terrorism.

      We need to send a positive message to society and to raise awareness, particularly about the Roma. I have been a teacher, and I had pupils from the Roma community. I tried to teach them that they have to work inclusively in our communities as well. One area is working with young people. We need to work hand in hand – us and them, together. This is an era in which there are a greater number of Roma students at university than ever before, thanks to proactive work and joint work with them.

      Obviously, we cannot rest on our laurels. The old European Union is developing, with a lot of populist and conservative views that prioritise negative messages and negative discrimination and do not accept positive discrimination for this community. We need to work for their inclusion. They have things to do as well, but we must establish the basic principles of the Council of Europe. We must ensure that hand in hand, we work for them and with them, so that this 11 million-strong community has a much better and more inclusive future within Europe. That will mean a much more positive future for all of us.

      Mr KOX (Netherlands, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left)* – First, on behalf of my group, I would like to thank the rapporteur, Tobias Zech, for his report, which shows great involvement and commitment.

      (The speaker continued in English.)

      The report and the resolution are about a very important issue. We are talking, as the rapporteur said, about 11 million citizens of Europe; that is the size of Belgium’s population, and it is more than the number of inhabitants of many our member States. States in Europe are seen as taking care of and protecting their citizens’ human, social and cultural rights in general. However, the report informs us about the lack of protection of human, social and cultural rights for these 11 million citizens of our European continent. At the end of the week, it is very important that we address that. The rapporteur does it in a very appropriate way.

      My group fully supports the rapporteur’s proposals and requests on behalf of the Assembly to our member States, but I have one question. It is correct that the rapporteur addresses our States, but what would be your address to the Roma and Traveller communities themselves? I try to be a socialist. We can do a lot, but emancipation is, at the end, an act of the person and of the community themselves. Together with your report and your call to member States, what would you appeal to the Roma and Traveller community that they do to make themselves as included as you propose in your report? Once again, my group fully supports this excellent report and resolution.

      Ms CSÖBÖR (Hungary)* – I congratulate the rapporteur on his sterling work. I would also like to thank him for his openness and the great interest he displayed during his fact-finding visit to my country.I entirely agree with the points he made his report. It is essential to meet the challenges arising from the constant marginalisation of large swathes of the population in our societies. For that reason, we support the measures put forward by this Assembly for member States.

      The Hungarian Government continues to place special emphasis on the social inclusion of Roma. We are convinced that special measures are needed, internationally and nationally, to achieve the hoped-for results. In the EU context, it was the Hungarian presidency that laid down as a priority the adoption of national integration strategies for Roma. The rapporteur was also able to examine many models during his visit to Hungary, and these good examples seek to eliminate marginalisation and do everything possible to afford fair opportunities to disadvantaged groups and to find the resources to ensure that these people may have the same prospects as others. The Hungarian Government has even adopted a national social inclusion strategy, which focuses on areas requiring the most urgent intervention: child poverty; access to quality public services; integration into the labour market; segregation in housing; and discrimination against Roma. As the Hungarian member of parliament for the region of the country where the proportion of these disadvantaged groups is especially high, I am personally committed to getting the most effective integration possible.

      We know how important this process is and we are doing everything in our power to achieve results. My association is organising a musical programme for integration, which has been very successful for a long time. The programme seeks to reduce the school drop-out rate among children from disadvantaged groups, especially Roma, and to improve their success at school and in the community through playing music and conducting joint exercises. The aim is to make headway on social integration, based on music as a common language and the wonderful adventure of playing musical instruments together. Some 1 000 children have already been engaged in this programme across the country.

      In conclusion, we are aware that a great deal remains to be done, but measures that have already been put in place and the programmes that are operating show we are on the right path. That is borne out by the outstanding report.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Csöbör.

      We now call on the rapporteur to respond to the speakers. You have four minutes left.

      Mr ZECH (Germany)* – I wish to respond in particular to a couple of the remarks that have been made. Mr Kox, you are right to say that we can succeed only by working with people – we cannot do things for people. My wish is that Roma people who have succeeded – police officers, business people, lawyers and so on – do not move away to the capital and forget their roots. I hope that they could proudly say, “I am a Roma, I have been to university and I have succeeded.” I would like to see them providing a model of how young Roma can change their lives. There are such good examples and I would like to see them acting as a model for other Roma – as a lighthouse, as I said. Unfortunately, all too often these people who were born in Roma communities throughout Europe and who fought hard to succeed in their studies no longer dare to say proudly, “I am Roma”, because they are afraid of discrimination. My deepest wish and hope is that they could have the self-confidence to say that. I hope I have answered your question by saying that.

      As for what Ms Csöbör just said, during Hungary’s European Union presidency it was the first country to introduce a promotional campaign for Roma. This programme has now been copied by many other countries. Some parts of it have been very successful and others less so, but we have a lot to learn from her country and her experience, and we can apply many of the lessons elsewhere. Once again, we can succeed only if everybody pulls together – civil society, the Roma community, parliaments and regions. I thank everybody who contributed to the debate, and I thank all members for their questions and comments.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, rapporteur. Does the chairperson of the committee wish to speak? You have a couple of minutes.

      Ms CENTEMERO (Italy) – No person or group should be excluded from society on the grounds of their ethnic origin, yet that is still the experience of far too many Roma and Travellers all over Europe. Mr Zech’s report reminds us that discrimination against Roma and Travellers is an abuse of human rights, and we must overcome it. The report also shows us that promoting the inclusion of Roma and Travellers is in the interest of our societies as well. Many initiatives to overcome discrimination against Roma and Travellers have been launched in recent years and improvements are starting to be seen. There has perhaps never been a better chance to make real progress towards the inclusion of Roma and Travellers across our continent. Improving access to employment is only part of the picture, but it is a crucial step towards inclusion and empowerment. To improve access to employment for Roma and Travellers, we must invest more to ensure equality in the field of education; we must break down our barriers to access to the labour market, such as discrimination by employers; we must fight anti-Gypsyism; and we must work together with Roma and Travellers so that they can truly be actors in their own destiny.

      The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination adopted this draft resolution unanimously and I urge you to support it today. Thank you.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Chair.

      The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination has presented a draft resolution, Document 14149, to which two amendments and one sub-amendment have been tabled. They will be taken in the order in which they appear in the revised compendium and the Organisation of Debates. I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

      I understand that the Chair of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendment 1, which was unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

      Is that so, Ms Centemero?

      Ms CENTEMERO (Italy) – Yes.

      The PRESIDENT* – Are there any objections? That is not the case.

      Amendment 1 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 2, to which a sub-amendment has been tabled.

      I call Mr Bildarratz to support Amendment 2. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr BILDARRATZ (Spain)* – The idea here is to afford greater visibility to women and girls, and so I think the sub-amendment is better worded and we are grateful for the work that has been done by its proponents. The suggestion is to use the term “women and girls”.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Zech to support the sub-amendment on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.

      Mr ZECH (Germany) – I fully agree with the amendment, and my sub-amendment proposes replacing the word “female” in the amendment with the term “women and girls”. That is more appropriate, and it improves the reading of the text and its clarity. In other words, we are not changing the overall meaning; we are making a purely semantic change.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment. That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of Mr Bildarratz?

      Mr BILDARRATZ (Spain)* – The sub-amendment is better and we support it.

      The PRESIDENT – I presume the committee is in favour of the sub-amendment.

      Ms CENTEMERO (Italy) – Yes.

      The PRESIDENT – I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

      Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Ms CENTEMERO (Italy) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – Is shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 2, as amended, is adopted.

      We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14149, as amended. A simple majority is required.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 14149, as amended, is adopted, with 42 votes for, 0 against and 0 abstentions.

4. Free debate (continued)

      The PRESIDENT* – We now return to the free debate, which began on Tuesday morning. Speaking time will be limited to three minutes. The free debate will finish at around 12.55 p.m.

      As Ms Naghdalyan and Ms Sotnyk are not present, I call Mr Golub.

      Mr GOLUB (Ukraine)* – The start of 2017, regrettably, sees a continuation of problems bequeathed to us from the past. International terrorism is the most significant and dangerous problem. There can be no justification for terrorism. Its principal targets are innocent citizens including children, women and the elderly. The aim of such crimes is to sow fear and tragedy, causing death, pain and the tears of millions of people. International terrorism is becoming increasingly cruel and gratuitous. People no longer feel safe in Europe, the United States, Asia or Africa. Terrorists are breaking hearts everywhere – in Paris, Nice, Berlin, Istanbul, Baghdad, Kabul, Aleppo, Donetsk and Luhansk.

      The problem of combating international terrorism is compounded by the fact that some countries are using terrorist techniques to attain their dishonest goals. These States openly provide financial, military and other assistance to terrorist groups that act as criminals against humanity. There are such examples in the east of Ukraine, where terrorist militants carry out their tactics with the support of the Russian Federation. The actions of Russian aircraft in Aleppo when the Kremlin is seeking to keep the inhumane and criminal regime of Bashar Assad in power at the expense of innocent lives are particularly dreadful. No goal can justify the murder of people.

      International terrorism, with the support of aggressor countries such as Russia, is becoming an increasingly cynical enemy. Our common strength is in our unity, the wish to live in peace and harmony, and an understanding that democracy is the only way. Either we destroy the enemy, or the enemy will destroy democracy. For the third year in a row, my State is suffering at the hands of terrorist groups supported by Russia. Every day, my people confront frenetic forces that aim to destroy Ukraine and its citizens. We see murder every day, and I know what I am talking about.

      The damage done by arrogant, cruel terrorists has no place in the 21st century. We must be united in combating international terrorism and aggressor States, which cannot be represented in this Chamber, that support such criminal acts. The future of generations to come will be impaired for ever if we do not confront such terrorist brutality, weakness and indecision. Let us remember what is at stake.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – “Tyrannical, Racist, Unpleasant, Misogynist, Protectionist” spells Trump, who said at his inauguration, “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.” So, good luck to the UK as we leave the European Union. We are first in the queue for a trade deal with the United States and first in the queue for TTIP plus, which will try to cut our workers’ rights, environmental protection and public health. It will make the UK a low-cost offshore tax haven so the European Union will have no alternative but to impose tax tariffs on trade to avoid and prevent unfair competition. Given that 44% of UK trade is to the EU, and only 7% of EU trade is to the UK, we are in a much weaker position.

      On 23 June, the British public voted to leave the European Union on the basis of lower costs, single market access and lower migration. Instead we face higher costs of an extra Ł300 million a week, rather than the Ł350 million a week we were promised for the health service. We face tariffs instead of market access, and a migration surge because we have said that we will close the door in two years’ time. The people did not consent or vote to leave on any terms at any cost. I am promoting the Terms of Withdrawal from EU (Referendum) Bill as an amendment to the White Paper so that the people have the final say on the exit package. They voted to leave in principle, but will they be happy with the final deal? If they voted no in such a vote, the UK could then stay in the European Union.

      We should delay invoking Article 50, which simply hands back our membership of the European Union prematurely so that the other 27 States can unilaterally decide what we get – like it or lump it. Instead, we should negotiate with the EU 27 in the knowledge that there will be a referendum on the exit package. That would give the European Union the incentive to negotiate with us. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court said that the prime minister could not simply unilaterally trigger Article 50 on her own, that the referendum was advisory and not mandatory, and that parliament must decide what is best for the UK based on the 48%-52% judgment. I hope that we will delay invoking Article 50, certainly until after the German elections in October because there will then be a new government. Some say, “Don’t worry about Article 50. It might be revocable.” But that is just like saying that if I walk along the motorway in the middle of the night, I might not be killed; it is not a good idea to try it out in the first place, given the massive risks. Others say that if we delay invoking Article 50, an election will be called. However, the prime minister will call an election in any case to confirm her mandate to be prime minister and her mandate for Brexit.

      In conclusion, we must do what is good and right for the UK and the EU, which is to delay invoking Article 50 and give the people the final say.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Davies. As Ms Kerestecioğlu Demir and Mr Le Déaut are not here, I call Paul Scully from the United Kingdom.

      Mr SCULLY (United Kingdom) – We have spoken about human rights in Europe and countries around Europe on many occasions, but I want to take you a little further away to Burma – Myanmar – where my father was born. I am half-Burmese, so I have a particular interest in the country. As you may be aware, there have been reports of a crackdown in the north of the Shan and Kachin states by the military, using airstrikes and heavy artillery. Yanghee Lee, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar was there on a 12-day monitoring visit recently, but was denied access to the conflict-affected areas of Shan state. It is concerning that people cannot go in to see what is happening.

      You may be more familiar with the plight of the Rohingya community in Rakhine state, on the border with Bangladesh. There has been another crackdown since 9 October 2016. There have been reports of summary executions, torture and mass rape, as well as the destruction of more than 1 500 homes. According to the Burma Human Rights Network, security forces chained civilians inside homes before burning them down on 12 November 2016. It is difficult to ascertain the real facts because false propaganda clouds the issue, so journalists and independent observers must have access to discover the truth. We must also have access to the displacement camps so we can provide humanitarian assistance.

      There is a current investigation into what is happening in Rahkine State with the Rohingya, but unfortunately it is headed by a former army general, and its members include the chief of police. Its interim findings state that everything has taken place is within the law. A number of people are calling for an independent investigation into what is happening. I hope that when you go back to your countries, you will join that call.

      There has been a difficult transition in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi has an incredibly difficult task. That country’s issues cannot be solved overnight. We must give her and her new government time and breathing space to do their work, but as friends we must speak out to ensure that people do not die and suffer simply because of their faith. I ask you to speak out and ensure that the public are aware of the situation. I ask you to go back to your governments, speak out and ask them what more they can do to put pressure on new Government of Myanmar to end this human rights atrocity.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Scully. As Mr Divina, Mr Sabella, Mr Ghiletchi, Ms Brasseur and Ms Rodríguez Ramos are not here, I call Ms Karapetyan.

      Ms KARAPETYAN (Armenia) – I was sure that, once again, Azerbaijan would falsify the facts here and would not be punished or blamed. That is why I would like to read out two official press releases from the Ministry for Defence of the Republic of Armenia. The first states that, early in the morning of 29 December, Azerbaijani troops carried out a sabotage infiltration attempt in the direction of the Chinari village in the Tavush region of the Republic of Armenia, briefly crossing the south-eastern portion of the Armenian State border. The second states that, after the sabotage infiltration, the Azerbaijani side made an official announcement, through which it attempted to shift the blame for the events on to the Armenian side in a characteristically absurd fashion. The Azerbaijani attack troops killed two soldiers from behind while the young men were washing up. The attack took place across the state border between the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan, not on the line of contact between Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

      By making a political decision and carrying out that military action, Azerbaijan, a Council of Europe member State, violated not only the obligations it signed up to when it joined our Organisation but its obligation to negotiate in good faith under the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. It has violated the principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter, the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, and the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. Most importantly, it has violated the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines the supremacy of the right to life.

      Granting impunity for crimes breeds new ones. Ignorance about the scourge in one part of Europe may encourage violence in others. Therefore, joint and concerted actions are needed to eradicate violence everywhere once and for all. We are in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to make Europe live by the principles of democracy, human rights and peace. We have no right to close our eyes to violations committed by a member State. We need to ask ourselves what this Organisation is for. We need a proper answer to that question, and we must make member States honour their obligations.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. As Ms Chugoshvili and Mr Badea are not here, I call Ms Fataliyeva.

      Ms FATALIYEVA (Azerbaijan) – Cultural heritage is of irreplaceable spiritual, cultural, economic and social value. It nourishes modern science, education and culture. Along with natural wealth, it is a base of national self-esteem and attracts the recognition of the international community.

      The problem of preserving and protecting historical and cultural heritage has always been relevant, but it has become more important in the past decade in the light of the destruction of cultural heritage in conflict areas. Today, we need need to develop an international legal instrument within the framework of the Council of Europe to protect cultural heritage and co-ordinate member States’ implementation of international law. State policy in this area should seek to preserve culture – the accumulation of previous generations’ values – recognise the fundamental role of culture in development and self-realisation, humanise society, and preserve people’s national identities and dignity.

      Azerbaijan, located at the crossroads of East and West, is an interesting geopolitical region with rich historical and cultural heritage. In different periods of our history, our country was home to the resettled representatives of different nations, cultures and religions. This year, we are going to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the resettlement of the Germans and the creation of German settlements in the South Caucasus – in particular, in Azerbaijan. The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed a decree on the 200th anniversary of the creation of German settlements in the South Caucasus. That document, as well as respecting historical heritage and seeking the conservation and restoration of German cultural monuments at a State level, is a clear example of the policy of multiculturalism and tolerance in Azerbaijan.

      We also appreciate and cherish the Caucasian Albanian Udi Christian community. As an example of our respect for other cultures, in 2003 we restored one of the oldest churches in the Caucus. It is considered to be the mother of Albanian churches, and is located in the Sheki district. Another example of our preservation of cultural and historical heritage is our restoration of the Armenian church in the centre of Baku. Today, the building is used as a book depository.

      The preservation of cultural monuments and heritage in areas of conflict is a matter of particular concern. In Nagorno-Karabakh, which for centuries was considered the cradle of Azerbaijani culture, cultural sites – including religious sites, cemeteries, national monuments and shrines – have been destroyed and desecrated. Conflict, war and Armenia’s subversive activities have put at risk the material and cultural monuments in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Continued vandalism has destroyed most of the historic monuments that were maintained for centuries in Azerbaijan. By involving more people in inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, we can make an invaluable contribution to the fight against international terrorism by depriving it of its extremist ideology.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. As Ms Katsarava is not here, I call Mr Huseynov.

       Mr R. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – I would first like to reject the lies, slander and falsification in the speech from our Armenian colleague.

      Dear friends, today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Holocaust was a turning point in history. It prompted the world to say never again. Genocide is the most terrible misfortune to face humanity. Genocide is unacceptable, irrespective of which nation is targeted.

      On 26 February, the nation of Azerbaijan will commemorate with great sadness the 25th anniversary of one of the most sorrowful days in our history. On that day in 1992, Armenian armed forces, together with Soviet troops, put the end to the existence of the settlement of Khojaly in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. In one night, 613 inhabitants of Khojaly, including old people, women and children, were slaughtered in the most merciless and cruel way. These ordinary peaceful people were subjected to such horror and disaster because of their nationality – because they were Azerbaijanis.

      The lessons of the Holocaust and Babi Yar should have been enough to prevent these human beings from covering their hands with blood. Ignoring the lessons of history, this genocide was perpetrated before the eyes of the world and introduced a new name to mankind. It provides comfort to know that an increasing number of States, parliaments and international organisations recognise the tragedy at Khojaly as genocide. The list of countries includes Mexico, Pakistan, the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Peru and Columbia, as well as many states of the United States of America.

      The annual global “Justice for Khojaly” campaign has one supreme goal. One cannot bring back the lives of those murdered by the Armenians 25 years ago in the unprecedented atrocity, but the aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and learn the sorrowful lesson of history so that such tragedies can never happen again. Audio, video and photographic materials showing the horrors of the night of 25 February in 1992 are available. One photograph shows the bullet-riddled bodies of innocent infants. If people could find the strength to imagine their own children in the place of those angel babies, such misfortunes as the genocide of Khojaly would never occur in any part of the world again.

(Mr Agramunt, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Rouquet.)

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Huseynov. As Mr Fridez, Mr Korodi and Mr Schwabe are not here, I call Ms Gafarova.

      Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – I doubt whether anyone would challenge the fact the world community faces many serious threats. There has been serious damage to the economies of the countries of the world due to ongoing global processes. The consequences include the financial crisis and public concern about confrontation in the political arena. In addition, religious and racial discrimination, as well as outbreaks of terrorism, cannot leave us indifferent to the problem.

      Recent acts of terror have once again proved that no State or nation is protected from such negative events. Co-operation, good faith and mutual respect for different values are perhaps more important and valuable than never before. In the current environment, particularly when religion is being used by so many groups to try to sow the seeds of hatred between nations, it is important to create dialog between religions and cultures. A tolerant attitude towards different religions is one of the most important ways to ensure security in the modern world.

      I have to point out that the independent Republic of Azerbaijan has always pursued a foreign policy based on these values and intentions. Based on its experience, Azerbaijan has proved that tolerance and mutual respect for national and spiritual values are the best ways to ensure a peaceful and secure environment for people of different religious and traditions. Today, people in Christian and Jewish communities have equal opportunities and rights with the Muslim majority.

      Azerbaijan is a centre of intercultural dialogue. It has established itself as an important place for the discussion of humanitarian issues. I am very pleased to note that President Ilham Aliyev declared 2017 as the year of Islamic solidarity. The events that will take place as part of this year will be a thorough response to those who try to present Islam as a terrorist religion, and they will contribute to presenting Islam as a religion of peace. Undoubtedly, declaring the year of 2017 as Islamic solidarity year in our country will contribute towards decreasing infighting in the Muslim world and create solidarity among Muslim countries.

      As you know, in 2015 Azerbaijan was home to the first European Games. This year, Islamic solidarity games will be held in Baku. This is not just a sporting event. The city of Baku took responsibility for holding the largest sporting events in both Europe and the Islamic-Muslim world. This is the truth dictated by the historical values of the Azerbaijani nation and today’s reality. Azerbaijan is a country at the crossroads of religions and cultures: a place where various world visions come together and representatives of different ethnicities live together in peace.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Gafarova.

      I see that there are only a small number of speakers remaining. We can finish the list on condition that they speak for only two minutes. You must reduce the length of your speeches, but we will finish the list.

      I call Ms Günay.

      Ms GÜNAY (Turkey)* – The political problems in Cyprus require durable political solutions. Everybody should be treated equally so as to guarantee the security of both communities. The talks between both parties will hopefully lead to a positive political commitment.

      International conventions from 1960 provided a security system. This was covered in the Annan plan. If Greek Cypriots had accepted the Annan plan in 2004, military forces would have withdrawn, pursuant to the provisions of the 1960 convention. Turkey is not opposed to the withdrawal of military forces, but it has to be done in line with the convention. Both parties have to reduce their military forces on the island. The guarantee system has been very important since we have had tragic events.

      People in the north think that the most important thing for Turkish Cypriots is to maintain security and to secure guarantees. This is not linked to the occupation or events in Cyprus. In 1963, there were guarantees provided by the convention, but the Greeks expelled the Turks, in violation of international conventions, and there were initiatives to bind Cyprus to Greece. In 1974, there was a coup d’état, followed by ethnic cleansing of Turks. The Turkish part of the island has kept its part of the bargain.

      The PRESIDENT – I am sorry, but I have to interrupt you – it is the only way we can allow everyone to speak. As Mr Abushahla, Mr Kandelaki, Ms Usta and Mr Salmond are not in the Chamber, I call Ms Postoico.

      Ms POSTOICO (Republic of Moldova)* – Distinguished colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to procedural violations and changes to the constitution during the presidential elections in Moldova. The direct elections held at the end of last year were illegal; they involved violation of legislation and of constitutional norms, and breaches of procedure. The president does not have the necessary legitimacy and he can be challenged. Moreover, the results of the election have overshadowed the real political problems in the country. Indeed, the political crisis is compounded by the fact that the president does not have the support of the majority, and by a split in society, with socio-economic conflicts that could explode.

      The elections did not resolve any problems in the country. Society remains split in two. Since the first weeks after the election, we have seen the disappointment of our citizens. There have been no positive changes in the political sphere and certainly not in the socio-economic sphere. In the coming months, we will face a major political crisis as a result of the presidential elections. The illegal changes to the constitution for the procedure of electing the president and the cancellation of the practice established for many years for electing a head of State and for so-called nationwide elections have had an adverse impact on the political situation in the country and on the development of our fragile democracy.

      The PRESIDENT – That concludes the list of speakers. The debate is closed.

5. Progress report of the Bureau and Standing Committee

      The PRESIDENT – We now turn to the progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee. This morning, the Bureau proposed several references to committees. These references, which are set out in the progress report, Document 14231, Addendum 4, must be submitted for ratification by the Assembly in accordance with Article 26.3 of the rules. Are there any objections to the references?

      There are no objections, so the references are approved.

      I now propose that the other proposals in the progress report, Document 14231, Addendum 4, be ratified, along with the proposals from the Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights in Document 14231 Addendum 3 that the proposed candidates from the Government of Georgia be rejected. Are there any objections?

      There are no objections, so the progress report and the report from the Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights are approved.

6. Constitution of the Standing Committee

      The PRESIDENT – The next business is to constitute the Standing Committee under Rule 17.2. The membership of the Standing Committee is fixed by Rule 17.3 as follows: the President of the Assembly; the Vice-Presidents of the Assembly; the leaders of the political groups; the chairpersons of the national delegations; and the chairpersons of the general committees. A full list of members is set out in Document Commissions (2017) 02.

      The Standing Committee is accordingly constituted.

7. Voting champions

      The PRESIDENT – I am pleased to announce our voting champions, the members who have taken part in the most votes during this part-session. They are Ms Christoffersen, from Norway; Mr Ghiletchi, from the Republic of Moldova; Ms Maury Pasquier, from Switzerland; and Mr Schennach, from Austria.

      I congratulate you all. As is traditional, we have small gifts for the champions, and I invite them to come forward to collect them.

8. Closure of the part-session

      The PRESIDENT – We have now come to the end of our business.

      I regret to inform you that Mr Loucaides was taken to hospital this morning. We send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

      I thank all members of the Assembly, particularly all the rapporteurs and chairpersons of the committees, for their hard work during the part-session. I also thank all the Vice-Presidents who have assisted me by presiding over sittings of the Assembly this week: Sir Roger Gale, Ms Adele Gambaro, Mr Carles Jordana, Mr George Loucaides, Ms Hermine Naghdalyan, Mr Zsolt Németh, Ms Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Mr René Rouquet and Ms Ingjerd Schou.

      I thank all the staff and interpreters, both permanent and temporary, who have worked hard to make the part-session a success.

      The second part of the 2017 session will be held from 24 to 28 April 2017.

      I declare the first part of the 2017 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe closed.

      The sitting is closed.

      (The sitting was closed at 1.10 p.m.)

CONTENTS

1. Changes in the membership of committees

2. Joint debate: Human rights compatibility of investor-State arbitration in international investment protection agreements, and “New generation” trade agreements and their implications for social rights, public health and sustainable development

Presentation by Mr Omtzigt of the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Document 14225

Presentation by Mr G. Davies of the opinion of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, Document 14255

Presentation by Mr G. Davies of the report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, Document 14219

Speakers: Mr Overbeek, Mr V. Huseynov, Mr Schennach, Mr Howell, Mr van de Ven, Mr Gopp, Mr Scully, Ms Christoffersen, Ms Higgins, Ms Günay, Ms Johnsson Fornarve, Mr Gyöngyösi

Draft resolution in Document 14225, as amended, adopted

Draft resolution in Document 14219, as amended, adopted

3. Promoting the inclusion of Roma and Travellers

Presentation by Mr Zech of the report of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, Document 14149

Speakers: Ms Kovács, Ms Higgins, Mr Bildarratz, Mr Kox, Ms Csöbör

Draft resolution in Document 14149, as amended, adopted

4. Free debate (continued)

Speakers: Mr Golub, Mr G. Davies, Mr Scully, Ms Karapetyan, Ms Fataliyeva, Mr R. Huseynov, Ms Gafarova, Ms Günay, Ms Postoico

5. Progress report of the Bureau and Standing Committee (continued)

6. Constitution of the Standing Committee

7. Voting champions

8. Closure of the part-session

Appendix / Annexe

Representatives or Substitutes who signed the register of attendance in accordance with Rule 12.2 of the Rules of Procedure.The names of members substituted follow (in brackets) the names of participating members.

Liste des représentants ou suppléants ayant signé le registre de présence, conformément ŕ l'article 12.2 du Rčglement.Le nom des personnes remplacées suit celui des Membres remplaçant, entre parenthčses.

ADAM, Claude [M.] (HETTO-GAASCH, Françoise [Mme])

ARIEV, Volodymyr [Mr]

ARNAUT, Damir [Mr]

BAYDAR, Metin Lütfi [Mr] (KOÇ, Haluk [M.])

BAYKAL, Deniz [Mr]

BEUS RICHEMBERGH, Goran [Mr]

BILDARRATZ, Jokin [Mr]

BRASSEUR, Anne [Mme]

BRUYN, Piet De [Mr]

BUDNER, Margareta [Ms]

BULIGA, Valentina [Mme]

BUTKEVIČIUS, Algirdas [Mr]

CENTEMERO, Elena [Ms]

CEPEDA, José [Mr]

ČERNOCH, Marek [Mr] (BENEŠIK, Ondřej [Mr])

CHRISTOFFERSEN, Lise [Ms]

CILEVIČS, Boriss [Mr] (LAIZĀNE, Inese [Ms])

COMTE, Raphaël [M.] (FIALA, Doris [Mme])

CORSINI, Paolo [Mr]

CRUCHTEN, Yves [M.]

CSÖBÖR, Katalin [Mme]

DAVIES, Geraint [Mr]

DI STEFANO, Manlio [Mr]

EVANS, Nigel [Mr]

FATALIYEVA, Sevinj [Ms] (HAJIYEV, Sabir [Mr])

FISCHER, Axel [Mr]

GAFAROVA, Sahiba [Ms]

GERMANN, Hannes [Mr] (HEER, Alfred [Mr])

GHILETCHI, Valeriu [Mr]

GIRO, Francesco Maria [Mr]

GOGA, Pavol [M.] (PAŠKA, Jaroslav [M.])

GOLUB, Vladyslav [Mr] (LABAZIUK, Serhiy [Mr])

GONÇALVES, Carlos Alberto [M.]

GOPP, Rainer [Mr]

GORROTXATEGUI, Miren Edurne [Mme] (BALLESTER, Ángela [Ms])

GÜNAY, Emine Nur [Ms]

GUTIÉRREZ, Antonio [Mr]

GYÖNGYÖSI, Márton [Mr]

HIGGINS, Alice-Mary [Ms] (HOPKINS, Maura [Ms])

HOLÍK, Pavel [Mr] (MARKOVÁ, Soňa [Ms])

HOWELL, John [Mr]

HÜBINGER, Anette [Ms]

HUSEYNOV, Rafael [Mr]

HUSEYNOV, Vusal [Mr] (MAMMADOV, Muslum [M.])

JENIŠTA, Luděk [Mr]

JOHNSSON FORNARVE, Lotta [Ms] (OHLSSON, Carina [Ms])

KALMARI, Anne [Ms]

KARAPETYAN, Naira [Ms] (ZOURABIAN, Levon [Mr])

KAVVADIA, Ioanneta [Ms]

KOVÁCS, Elvira [Ms]

KOX, Tiny [Mr]

KÜRKÇÜ, Ertuğrul [Mr]

LE DÉAUT, Jean-Yves [M.]

LOGVYNSKYI, Georgii [Mr]

MADEJ, Róbert [Mr]

MANNINGER, Jenő [Mr] (GULYÁS, Gergely [Mr])

MAROSZ, Ján [Mr]

MAURY PASQUIER, Liliane [Mme]

MÜLLER, Thomas [Mr]

NÉMETH, Zsolt [Mr]

NENUTIL, Miroslav [Mr]

NICOLETTI, Michele [Mr]

OEHRI, Judith [Ms]

OMTZIGT, Pieter [Mr] (SCHNABEL, Paul [Mr])

ÖNAL, Suat [Mr]

OVERBEEK, Henk [Mr] (MAIJ, Marit [Ms])

PALIHOVICI, Liliana [Ms] (NEGUTA, Andrei [M.])

PALLARÉS, Judith [Ms]

PODERYS, Virgilijus [Mr] (VAREIKIS, Egidijus [Mr])

POLIAČIK, Martin [Mr]

POSTOICO, Maria [Mme] (VORONIN, Vladimir [M.])

ROUQUET, René [M.]

SANTA ANA, María Concepción de [Ms]

SCHENNACH, Stefan [Mr]

SCHNEIDER, André [M.] (ROCHEBLOINE, François [M.])

SCHOU, Ingjerd [Ms]

SCHRIJVER, Nico [Mr]

SCHWABE, Frank [Mr]

SCULLY, Paul [Mr] (DONALDSON, Jeffrey [Sir])

ŠEPIĆ, Senad [Mr]

SEYIDOV, Samad [Mr]

SHARMA, Virendra [Mr]

SOBOLEV, Serhiy [Mr]

TAMAŠUNIENĖ, Rita [Ms] (ŠAKALIENĖ, Dovilė [Ms])

USTA, Leyla Şahin [Ms]

VÁHALOVÁ, Dana [Ms]

VEN, Mart van de [Mr]

VOVK, Viktor [Mr]

WIECHEL, Markus [Mr] (NISSINEN, Johan [Mr])

WOJTYŁA, Andrzej [Mr]

XUCLŔ, Jordi [Mr] (RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ, Melisa [Ms])

ZECH, Tobias [Mr]

ZINGERIS, Emanuelis [Mr]

ZOTEA, Alina [Ms] (GHIMPU, Mihai [Mr])

Also signed the register / Ont également signé le registre

Representatives or Substitutes not authorised to vote / Représentants ou suppléants non autorisés ŕ voter

MASIULIS, Kęstutis [Mr]

RIBERAYGUA, Patrícia [Mme]

Observers / Observateurs

LARIOS CÓRDOVA, Héctor [Mr]

Partners for democracy / Partenaires pour la démocratie

Representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Community (In accordance to Resolution 1376 (2004) of

the Parliamentary Assembly)/ Représentants de la communauté chypriote turque

(Conformément ŕ la Résolution 1376 (2004) de l’Assemblée parlementaire)

Mehmet ÇAĞLAR

Erdal ÖZCENK