Council of Europe and the European Neighbourhood Policy of the European
The Parliamentary Assembly expresses its appreciation and support for
the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) launched by the European Union
(EU) in order to strengthen democratic stability, security and well-being
in several EU neighbouring countries and prevent the emergence of new
dividing lines in Europe.
The ENP, which concerns only those states neighbouring the EU which
are not involved in the present accession or pre-accession procedures,
and covers 15 states (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Jordan,
Lebanon and Syria) as well as the Palestinian Authority. Five of these
states are Council of Europe members, and the parliament of one of
them enjoys observer status with the Parliamentary Assembly. The Russian
Federation, although not covered by the ENP, will be associated with
certain partnership programmes in
the framework of the strategic partnership between Russia and the EU.
The ENP offers these countries a privileged and increasingly close
relationship with the EU involving a significant degree of economic
integration and political co-operation in return for concrete steps
being taken towards economic reform, good governance, human rights
protection, democracy and the rule of law.
is important to remember that eastern Europe is not an economic and
institutional desert or void. The countries in the region maintain
stable economic and commercial relations with each other, sometimes
in the framework of intergovernmental agreements and institutions,
such as the Common Economic Space and the Euro-Asian Economic Union.
A balanced strategy under the ENP should be based on constructive
co-operation with these institutions, not on attempts to sow discord
between them or to face the former Soviet countries with the dilemma
of either belonging to independent structures or moving closer to
Council of Europe
and the European Union have repeatedly declared that they share the
same values and principles, and pursue common aims with regard to
democracy, the rule of law and human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Assembly recalls that the European Convention on Human Rights
of the Council of Europe is the only legally binding instrument in
Europe in the field of human rights protection for all 46 Council
of Europe member states, including those which are members of the
The Assembly therefore believes that the ENP has to be based on co-operation
between the European Union and the Council of Europe, and that this
implies that the ENP fully integrates the values and standards of the
Council of Europe and uses its expertise in its core areas of excellence.
Lack of co-ordination would not only result in duplication of efforts.
Worse, it would create the risk of sending incoherent political messages
to the countries concerned and especially to those which have undertaken
specific commitments as Council of Europe members.
The Assembly recalls that the Council of Europes 3rd Summit of
Heads of State and Government, held in Warsaw on 16 and 17 May 2005,
confirmed that European leaders wish to avoid overlapping between
the activities of the main international organisations operating on
the European continent. That implies a clear definition of areas of
competence of each organisation and mutual respect for their respective
expertise in these domains.
The relations between the Council of Europe and the EU particularly
in view of a report under preparation by Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime
Minister of Luxembourg, which is designed as a basis for the future
Memorandum of Understanding between both organisations, may constitute
an important indication of the European leaders determination
and political will to give substance to their declarations.
These organisations share a long history of successful co-operation.
However, some recent developments related to the establishment of the
European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights may give rise to concerns
about the duplication of actions.
The ultimate economic and political objectives of the ENP are built
on a mutual commitment to common values in the field of the rule of
law, good governance, respect for human rights and the promotion of
good neighbourly relations which are inscribed in the action plans
agreed individually with every country concerned. These are Council
of Europe areas of excellence.
The Assembly points out that the Council of Europe has an established
practice in assisting committed states in their efforts to build sustainable
democratic systems. It includes the development of national strategies,
determination of measures to be taken, elaboration of legislation,
setting deadlines for accession to international legal instruments,
monitoring procedures and co-operation programmes aimed at consolidating
democracy, the rule of law and ensuring
respect for human rights.
Council of Europe
has been monitoring the specific obligations and commitments of all
Council of Europe member countries covered by the ENP since their
accession. The compliance of these countries with their obligations
and commitments towards the Council of Europe should be a sine qua
non pre-condition for any further European integration within the
Furthermore, non-member countries of the Council of Europe addressed
by the ENP are also concerned by the Council of Europes commitment
to develop dialogue with them following the 3rd Summits decision
to increase intercultural and inter-religious contacts. This particularly
concerns the southern Mediterranean region and the Middle East. The
Council of Europe could become a useful forum for a dialogue on the
basis of partnership.
Contacts with countries in these regions have already been numerous,
particularly at the parliamentary level. The proposed tripartite forum
between the parliamentarians of the Knesset, the Palestinian Legislative
Council and the Parliamentary Assembly is a good example of co-operation.
Further increase in relations may lead to the elaboration of a special
status which would enable closer co-operation with countries from outside
The Assembly notes with satisfaction that the European Parliament in
its Resolution on Wider Europe Neighbourhood: a New Framework
for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours (P5_TA(2003)0520) made
not only explicit reference to the Council of Europe mechanisms on
which to build relations with some countries covered by the ENP, but
also clearly insisted on setting up a concrete co-operation with the
Council of Europe.
the commitment of the European leaders to ensure complementarity
within European organisations is not to remain wishful thinking,
the Council of Europe and the European Union have to reach a political
agreement that the values and standards of the Council of Europe
should be given full political recognition in the ENP action plans.
Moreover, the expertise, monitoring procedures and assistance know-how
of the Council of Europe should be widely used in the implementation
of the ENP.
Therefore, the Assembly calls on the Committee of Ministers to:
the relevant authorities of the EU to establish concrete co-operation
with a view to institutionalising the Council of Europes contribution
to the ENP and give it appropriate political recognition,
and in particular:
present concrete projects for the Council of Europes contribution
to the ENP on the basis of action plans combining the objectives
of both institutions;
the countries covered by the ENP which are members of the Council
of Europe, make compliance with Council of Europe commitments and
obligations a pre-condition for any further European integration;
increase the co-operation and the distribution of tasks with the
EU in the field, in particular with a view to elaborating more joint
co-operation programmes aimed at the consolidation of democracy in
the countries covered by the ENP in such a way as to use the knowledge
and the expertise of the Council of Europe as added value;
develop more specific relations with non-member states concerned by
the ENP, and in particular: