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Letter | Doc. 115 | 09 September 1949

Letter sent by Mr Paul-Henri Spaak, President of the Consultative Assembly to M. Paul Van Zeeland, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers

Signatories: Mr Paul-Henri SPAAK, Belgium


I have the honour to transmit to you herewith, to be laid before the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the texts of the Reports adopted by the Consultative Assembly during the course of the Session which closed on 8th September, 1949.

The Assembly referred the various items on its Agenda to six Committees:

1. Committee on Rules of Procedure;
2. Committee on General Affairs;
3. Committee on Economic Questions;
4. Committee on Cultural Questions;
5. Committee on Social Questions;
6. Committee on Legal and Administrative Questions.

Each of these Committees has submitted one or more Reports containing Recommendations to the Committee of Ministers.

The Committee on General Affairs has proposed, and tho Assembly has approved, the setting up of a Standing Committee of the Assembly for the co-ordination of the work of the Assembly and its Committees. The Committees have also drawn up their programmes of work to be done before tho next Session.

I will comment briefly on the above-mentioned documents in this order.

a) Proposed Amendments to the Statute. These Proposals are to be found in Part III of Document 87.

With regard to Articles 4 and 5, the Consultative Assembly requests that it may be consulted on the admission of new Members and new associate Members to the Council of Europe.

A modification of Article 23 is suggested, whereby the Assembly would bè empowered to fix its own Agenda independently of the Committee of Ministers.

It is also proposed that the system of Substitutes should be abolished and that the number of Representatives should be doubled (Articles 25 and 26).

With regard to the Secretariat General, there is a Recommendation that two Deputy Secretaries General be appointed, under the authority of the Secretary General, one responsible for the Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers, and one for the Secretariat of the Consultative Assembly.

The modifications proposed call for certain changes in other Articles of the Statute, some of which are already mentioned in Part III, B, of Document 87. It will, in any case, be necessary to examine the Statute as a whole to see where other consequential modifications are necessary.

b) The Assembly requests the Committee of Ministers to examine the question of the admission of new Members and of new associate Members to the Council of Europe and to include this question in the Agenda of the next Ordinary or Extraordinary Session of the Assembly (Part III, C, of Document 87).

It seems clear from the Assembly's Debates that this Recommendation envisages more particularly the possibility of the admission of Western Germany, but it also affects the Saar and Austria.

c) Document 71 (Parts I and II) sets out the economic questions which the Assembly requests the Committee of Ministers to examine.

The Assembly has particularly emphasised the necessity of impressing the gravity of the present situation upon the peoples of Europe by all possible information media.

These Recommendations are directed towards the establishment of a system of multilateral payments including the re-establishment of the convertibility of European currencies, the creation of .a permanent body responsible for the co-ordination of credit policy, the development of the work started by the O. E. E. C. for the promotion of inter-European trade and for the study of economic relations between European and associated countries and territories, the preparation of a European Economic Union by maintaining and developing existing preferential systems, the study of the development of production in Member States, with the object of satisfying mutual requirements as regards imports, the movement of persons, the investment of foreign capital, the extension of a system of guaranteed markets, the calling of an economic conference and of industrial conferences in which employers, workers and consumers would be represented, with the object of organising the industries concerned and of increasing their productivity, and the preparation of a convention for the control of international cartels.

The Assembly hopes that the Committee of Ministers will agree to submit its Proposals, based on these Recommendations, to the next Session of the Assembly, in order that the Council of Europe, as soon as these Proposals have been accepted by the Assembly, may enter into negotiations with the Government of the U. S. A. and with any other interested Government (Part II, a, b).

The Assembly also asks the Committee of Ministers to let the Standing Committee know, as soon as possible, through the intermediary of the President of the Assembly, of any objections that might in due course be made to the creation of a European Patents Office (Document 110).

d) With regard to cultural affairs (the whole of Document 101), the Assembly has submitted a number of Recommendations to the Committee of Ministers concerning cultural agreements, the free circulation and exchange of publications, cooperation in scientific research and assistance to cultural organisations. It further suggests that the Ministers of Education of Member States, assisted by the university authorities, should draw up together a plan of cultural co-operation on an European basis, the broad lines of which are given. It is suggested that the question of the creation of a European University should be discussed during the next Session. The institution of a European Cultural Centre is also proposed and the objects of such a Centre are set out.

e) As regards social questions, tho Assembly recommends (Document 79—Part I) to Member States the revision of their respective systems of social legislation with a view to achieving, by the methods appropriate to each country, a common standard of social security, of studying the possibility of a general ratification of international social security conventions and of drawing up a multilateral agreement on social security.

f) The safeguarding and development of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms. The steps to be taken for the achievement of the declared object of the Council of Europe, in Article I of the Statute, are dealt with in Document 108.

In this connection the Assembly recommends to the Committee of Ministers that it should prepare as soon as possible a draft Convention of collective guarantees which would assure to all persons residing in the territories of Member States the effective enjoyment of the fundamental rights and freedoms which are set out in Article 2 of Part I of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Assembly has submitted to the Committee of Ministers a draft of suggested Articles for the proposed Convention.

The Assembly wishes to recommend to the Committee of Ministers that the Committee does everything possible to ensure that each Member State takes the necessary action to see that the question of a European passport be studied by the appropriate Ministerial authorities.

Finally, the Standing Committee of the Assembly, which met this morning, has expressed the desire that the replies from the Committee of Ministers to the Recommendations submitted to it should be communicated to the Assembly as and when decision are taken on them.

The above are the Recommendations which I have the honour to transmit to you on behalf of the Assembly, in accordance with Article 23 of the Statute.

The Assembly has discussed the question of the organisation of the work of its Committees in the interval between Sessions.

a) It was felt, as a result of the study undertaken by the Committee on General Affairs, that a Standing Committee should be set up (Part II, Document 87) which should be responsible for the co-ordination of the Resolutions of the Assembly and of the Reports and Recommendations of its Committees, for the preparation of the work of the next Session and for the adoption of any measures calculated to facilitate and accelerate its work.

This Standing Committee will be composed of the President, the 4. Vice-Presidents and 23 Representatives to the Assembly. The Chairmen of the six Committees will be ex officio members.

The Committee will meet at least four times each year and whenever the President of the Assembly shall consider it necessary. The President'of the Assembly, on behalf of the Standing Committee, will consult with the Committee of Ministers on the desirability of calling at any time ah' Extraordinary Session of the Assembly, or in connection with any matter arising out of the Agenda of the previous Session.

b) The Assembly has decided further that the six Committees appointed by it might meet in the interval between Sessions. In general, the Committees, with the approval of the Assembly, have assigned themselves the task of continuing, during the coming months, the study of the questions referred to them.

c) The development of the work of the Committees of the Assembly entails certain expenditure not originally included in the Budget approved by the Committee of Ministers. This matter is dealt with in the Report of the Committee on General Affairs which has been approved by the Assembly (paragraph 3 of Part IV of Document 87), but only in so far as that particular Committee is concerned.

Before adjourning, most of the Committees drew up, in broad outline, their programme of work up to Session of the Assembly.

a) The Standing Committee of the Assembly

In addition to its general tasks as outlined above, thé Standing Committee of the Assembly is.charged by the Committee on General Affairs with the study of a Resolution recommending to the Committee of • Ministers the systematic instruction of the masses concerning the undeniable advantages of European unity (paragraph, 4, Part IV, Document 87).

b) Committee on Rules of Procedure

The Committee on Rules of Procedure was unable to complete the very detailed work entailed in the transformation of the provisional Rules into the final Rules of Procedure. The Committee has therefore proposed, and the Assembly has approved, the setting up of a Sub-Committee of six members with, the task of establishing, by such means as may be necessary, a draft of the final Rules of Procedure to be submitted to the Assembly (Document 100).

c) Committee on General Affairs

Part I of Document 87 sets out the task of the Committee on General Affairs. This Committee; after having examined the general position of the Member States, the present situation as regards existing inter-governmental organisations and the Proposals for the establishment of closer collaboration in the economic, social and cultural fields, has undertaken to study the changes in the political and constitutional structure of Member States which may be necessary in order to ensure such closer collaboration, Proposals for federation and so forth, and the effects which changes of this kind would have in each Member State. The Assembly has charged the Committee to formulate clear-cut Proposals and to report to the President in time for the Session of 1960, so that Members of the Council of Europe should be in a position to submit the Recommendations adopted as soon as possible for discussion by their respective Parliaments.

The Assembly has also instructed its Committee on General Affairs to draft a European agreement defining the guiding principles of the Council of Europe and forestalling possible conflicts between participating countries by confirming their intention to outlaw war (paragraph 7, Part IV, Document 87).

The same Committee will also examine two draft Amendments to the Statute which would provide for any case where the Committee of Ministers might feel itself unable to take into consideration the Recommendations of the Consultative Assembly (paragraph 6, Part IV, Document 87).

d) Committee on Economic Questions

The Committee on Economic Questions has set out the general plan of its work (Part III, Document 71 and appendices). It has provided for the setting up of four Sub-Committees, each with its own programme of work. This Committee has proposed, and the Assembly has approved, that the President of the Assembly should establish contact with the Secretaries of the United Nations, the O.E.E.C. and the B.I.S. with the object of gaining access to the publications of these bodies and of allowing Committees to hear the views of the national and international experts of these different organisations.

e) Committee on Cultural Questions

The Report of the Committee on Cultural Questions only contains Recommendations to the Committee of Ministers.

f) Committee on Social Questions

The Committee on Social Questions has decided to continue its work on social security and to study itself the questions of the housing and emigration of workers (Parts II and III of Document 79).

1. Establishment of a European Political Authority

The Assembly, by adopting paragraphs 5 and 8 of Part IV of Document 87, has shown that it considers one of its aims and objects to be the establishment of a European political authority with limited functions but real powers. This question has been referred to the Standing Committee.

2. Convocation of an Extraordinary Session

The Assembly considers that it would be right to meet in Extraordinary Session in the early part of I960. The Standing Committee will take the necessary steps at the appropriate moment.

The Assembly has also resolved that if its members decide by a simple majority Vote to ask the President to call a special Session, the President shall communicate with the Committee of Ministers on this matter (paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part IV of Document 87).

3. Reports of the Committee of Ministers

Finally, the Assembly has requested that Reports of the Committee of Ministers, as provided for in Article 19 of the Statute, shall be as detailed as possible and shall contain clearly defined Proposals on the various questions transmitted by the Committee to the Assembly for an opinion. This Recommendation is the result of the feeling or uncertainty which pervaded the Assembly at tho beginning of the Session, when it was faced with requests for opinions which, by reason of the short notice given for the convening of the Assembly, it had proved impossible to formulate very clearly. Tho Assembly attaches the greatest importance to receiving detailed and complete Reports from the Committee of Ministers, in accordance with Article 19 of the Statute.

It would appear that, in general, these Reports should be the first item on the Agenda of the Assembly at each Session. They will facilitate the establishment of confident relations between the two organs of the Council of Europe. The Assembly is convinced that it is expressing the sentiments of the Committee of Ministers also, when it affirms that the continuance of the confident relationship which has marked this first Session of the Council is a vital necessity for the future of the organisation.

I have the honour to be, Mr. Chairman, Your Obedient Servant.