Doc. 9724

5 March 2003

European cultural co-operation and the future role of the Assembly

Recommendation 1566 (2002)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 829th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (27 February 2003)

1.       The Committee of Ministers has carefully considered Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1566 (2002) on European cultural co-operation and the future role of the Assembly. The recommendation was submitted to the Steering Committee for Culture (CD-CULT), the Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage (CD-PAT), the Steering Committee for Education (CD-ED) and the Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research (CD-ESR) for information, in line with the request to “communicate it to the Steering Committees, so that they can take account of it in their work”.

2.       The Committee of Ministers understands the reasons of principle which could lead to a review of representation of the Assembly in Steering Committees (para. 17.i of the recommendation). Nonetheless, it reaffirms the high value of institutionalised contacts between the Steering Committees and the Assembly.

3.       This being said, the real concern should rather be that of representativity. If an alternative mechanism could be found, such as bilateral or trilateral meetings, that could solve this problem. It should also be pointed out that the Assembly representatives in the Steering Committees and, previously, the specialized committees have rarely, if ever, made use of their full rights, such as the right to vote. It would seem that the question of Parliamentary Assembly representation is more serious in theory than in practice.

4.       The Assembly is consulted regularly on draft conventions and its views are largely taken into account in drafting recommendations (para 17.i).

5.       The Committee of Ministers is similarly concerned to take account of the views of specialized Ministers (para 17.iii).

6.       The Committee of Ministers also supports the suggestion of the Assembly that the Council of Europe give higher priority to its broadly defined cultural cooperation (para. 17.iv). A more complete understanding is needed of what constitutes “political” issues.

7.       The Committee of Ministers is in favour of cooperation with UNESCO, the OECD and the European Commission. For example, new co-operation exists with UNESCO on doping questions and with the European Union on youth research, Euro-Mediterranean co-operation as well as in the field of cultural heritage. The list would need to be broadened and also take in regional organizations and NGOs.

The Committee of Ministers is disposed to consider the Assembly’s suggestion to “take the necessary steps so that the European Union becomes Party to the European Cultural Convention (Council of Europe)”.

8.       Associating civil society and cooperation with NGOs is also important not only for young people but for all ages and walks of civil society (para. 17.viii). Education, of course, directly works with young people, a term which should not be understood in the narrow sense of “youth NGOs”.

9.       The Directorate General on Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport also deals with issues of environment and sustainable development. The preamble of the European Landscape Convention (Florence, October 2000) recognizes that landscape contributes to the formation of local cultures and is a basic component of the European natural and cultural heritage.

10.       Finally, the Committee of Ministers recalls Principle N 7 of the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent (Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation Rec(2002)1) devoted to "Enhancing the cultural heritage as a factor for development". It provides that "Increasing the appeal of localities and regions for investors, tourists and the general public by enhancing the cultural heritage makes an important contribution to economic development and to strengthening regional identity. Spatial development policy should contribute to integrated management of the cultural heritage conceived as an evolutionary process protecting and conserving the heritage and taking into account the needs of modern society […]”.