Richard Ferrand: ‘The Council of Europe must respond to the real concerns of citizens’

The Council of Europe is “a unique, irreplaceable place” where all the nations that make up Europe, whether or not they belong to the European Union, “can meet, engage in dialogue, get to know each other better and understand each other more,” said Richard Ferrand, Speaker of the French National Assembly, introducing a debate on “Our Common European Home: the next 70 years” at the European Conference of Presidents of Parliament.

The Organisation was a space for “constructive and stimulating” dialogue which – underpinned by its founding ideals of human rights and the rule of law – “remains a powerful lever for acting against countries whose democratic transition is still recent,” he added.

The Council of Europe has served as a crucible for intergovernmental co-operation, providing specific responses to threats to society. He cited the development of conventions to regulate biomedicine, counter terror, tackle cybercrime, combat violence against women and stamp out organ trafficking.

“In order to maintain its genuine added value, the Council of Europe must continue to adapt to new human rights challenges – particularly in the areas of artificial intelligence, bioethics and information manipulation – to meet citizens’ real concerns,” Mr Ferrand said.

Moreover “the Council of Europe needs to improve its monitoring procedures and mechanisms, and national parliaments should be given a greater role in monitoring the work done within the Council's institutions,” he added, in particular by heeding and helping to spread the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the conclusions of the CPT, and the observations of the Human Rights Commissioner.

“The Council of Europe's contribution to peace, respect for collective and individual rights, and democracy on our continent must be defended and preserved,” concluded Mr Ferrand.