As EU mulls a ‘democracy-monitoring’ mechanism, Council of Europe should step up political co-ordination but retain ‘primacy’ on assessing basic values

As the EU considers setting up a new democracy-monitoring mechanism for its own member States, the Council of Europe should step up political co-ordination with the EU while retaining its “primacy” in assessing both EU and non-EU states’ respect for common fundamental values, PACE’s Rules Committee has suggested.

In a draft resolution, based on a report by Petra De Sutter (Belgium, SOC), the committee said the creation of a possible permanent EU mechanism to monitor democracy, the rule of law and human rights – as recently proposed by the European Parliament – was, from its perspective, a “legitimate and consistent” response to concerns of a democratic deficit in several of its member States.

However it added: “Both organisations have a shared responsibility for upholding the effectiveness of their respective legal frameworks, ensuring that any overlapping of competences does not create conflict, and that this set of shared core values and principles is not interpreted independently either by the EU or the Council of Europe.”

If it decides to set up such a mechanism, the EU should continue to use Council of Europe standards as a “benchmark” for human rights and the rule of law on the continent – in line with a recent Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations – in order to avoid duplication or diverging views, the parliamentarians said.

The EU should also be invited to take account of the recommendations of Council of Europe advisory or monitoring bodies, and liaise with them to ensure “consistency of views and conclusions”, when assessing its own member States’ compliance with common standards.

The committee also called on the Council of Europe’s ministerial body to regularly assess the EU’s various initiatives, hold more direct dialogue with the relevant EU institutions, and set up a body for regular co-ordination between the two organisations.

For its own part, the Assembly should invite the EU to co-operate on establishing an “annual parliamentary debate on the rule of law” which could “better inform” national parliaments about the conclusions and recommendations of both organisations in the field of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.

The committee’s report is due to be debated by the plenary Assembly on Tuesday 9 April during its spring plenary session.