For debate in the Standing Committee — see Rule 15 of the Rules of Procedure

Doc. 10475

18 March 2005

Initiation of a monitoring procedure and post-monitoring dialogue

Opinion1

Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee)

Rapporteur: Mr György Frunda, Romania, Group of the European People’s Party

I.       Opinion of the committee

1.       The Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe fully agrees with the report presented by the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities and supports the proposals contained in the draft resolution.

2.       However, the committee wishes to present a written opinion in order to clarify, for the Assembly and its members, its position regarding the changes needed in the procedure for initiating and reopening the monitoring process.

3.       The Monitoring Committee accordingly wishes to propose some amendments to the draft resolution in order to clarify the approach suggested to the Assembly.

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II.        Proposed amendments to the draft resolution

4.       The committee proposes the following amendments:

Amendment A:

In the draft resolution, paragraph 3, after “the initiation” add “or the reopening” and replace the words “with regard to countries involved in the post-monitoring dialogue” with the words “in the framework of a post-monitoring dialogue in progress with a given country”.

Amendment B:

In the draft resolution, paragraph 4.i.ii, after “open a monitoring procedure” add “in case the application aims at reopening a monitoring procedure in respect of a country involved in the post-monitoring dialogue, the written opinion will be prepared by the Chairperson or, if appropriate, a Vice-Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee”, and delete the last sentence of sub-paragraph i after sub-sub-paragraph iv.

Amendment C:

In the draft resolution, paragraph 4.ii, after “Applications” add “other than those originating from the Monitoring Committee itself”, and after “Subsequently” add “with regard to all the applications referred to in paragraph 2”.

Amendment D:

In the draft resolution, paragraph 4.ii, first indent after “Subsequently”, replace the words “the written opinion shall be transformed into a report containing a draft resolution” with the words “the written opinion adopted by the Monitoring Committee shall be transformed, by way of derogation from Rule 49.2 of the Rules of Procedure, into a report containing a draft resolution”.

Amendment E:

In the draft resolution, paragraph 4.ii, at the end of the first indent after “Subsequently”, replace the sentence “The draft resolution may propose the committee(s) to which the matter could possibly be referred to for an opinion by the Assembly” with “The Assembly may decide, if appropriate, to refer the matter to one or more committee for an opinion”.

Amendment F:

In the draft resolution, paragraph 4.ii, second indent after “Subsequently”, replace the sentence “The Assembly’s confirmation by a vote in connection with the discussion of the Progress Report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee shall be required” with “The Assembly shall confirm this decision by a vote during the discussion of the Progress Report of the Bureau”.

Amendment G:

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 4.ii, delete the last sentence and replace it with a new paragraph 3bis worded as follows: “The Assembly or Standing Committee itself may decide, when adopting a resolution or an opinion on accession, to initiate a monitoring procedure and entrust it directly to the Monitoring Committee. In such a case, the procedure provided for in paragraphs 2 and 3 shall not be applicable”.

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III.       Explanatory memorandum

By Mr Frunda, Rapporteur for opinion

5.       The prospects for monitoring have been a matter of concern to the Monitoring Committee for several years now. Its thinking on this matter has led to various proposals, put forward during the discussion of its successive progress reports, for increasing the effectiveness and visibility of the monitoring procedure and the post-monitoring mechanism, for which it is responsible, and defining more precisely how its procedures might be improved.

6.       Having been closely involved in the discussions of the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities, the Monitoring Committee can only support the proposed changes to its terms of reference as set out in the draft resolution.

7.       However, it wishes to take the opportunity offered by this opinion to reiterate some of the requirements with which it has to comply in carrying out its task of monitoring obligations and commitments.

8.       It is certainly not necessary to repeat in detail the observations made in the progress reports adopted in 20012 and in 20033. However, it is useful to reiterate the following points:

      With regard to the initiation of a monitoring procedure:

9.       One criticism that the committee has often heard is that no monitoring procedure has yet been initiated in respect of long-standing Council of Europe member states. With the notable exception of Turkey4, all the monitoring procedures currently in progress concern the commitments and obligations entered into by member states at the time of their accession.

10.       When an application to open a procedure in respect of Liechtenstein was submitted to the committee and when, after conducting the necessary investigations, it proposed to the Bureau that a monitoring procedure be initiated in respect of that country, the Bureau decided by a short majority to turn down the request.

11.       In view of the importance which the decision whether or not to initiate a monitoring procedure has for the country concerned, the committee fully agrees with the position expressed by the signatories of the motion for a resolution (Doc. 9971) proposing that the question should be the subject of a debate in the plenary Assembly, and not merely a decision taken by the Bureau and submitted to the Assembly for ratification.

12.       It is important that, in future, the Assembly should fully exercise its prerogatives on what is a highly political question: the opening or reopening of a monitoring procedure is just as important for the country as the opinion on accession. A debate in plenary will also give greater prominence to the Assembly’s efforts over many years to monitor the honouring by the member states of their obligations and commitments.

13.       On the other hand - and here again the Monitoring Committee supports the proposals of the Committee on Rules of Procedure - a debate in plenary should not necessarily be automatic, as that could lead to abuses. The solution proposed strikes a fair balance and is therefore supported by the committee.

      With regard to the reopening of a previously closed procedure:

14.       Nobody doubts that it should be possible to reopen a previously closed monitoring procedure if the circumstances so require. It is absolutely essential, however, that the procedure to be adopted in such cases should be clarified because Resolution 1115 adopted in 1997 does not mention post-monitoring dialogue, which was introduced for the first time by an Assembly resolution in 2000.

15.       It will be recalled that the purpose of post-monitoring dialogue is to continue to monitor the situation in a given country on a number of specific points still in abeyance after the monitoring procedure proper has been closed. There are no longer two co-rapporteurs and a debate in plenary: it is for the Chair of the Monitoring Committee to conduct this dialogue, secure the committee’s approval for his/her conclusions (continuation or closure of the dialogue, or proposal to reopen the monitoring procedure) and subsequently report to the Bureau. The flexibility and much less formal nature of this dialogue have made it possible to continue to support the reform efforts of member states which were previously the subject of a monitoring procedure.

16.       Resolution 1115 says nothing about the treatment to be accorded to an application for reopening of a monitoring procedure in respect of a country with which a post-monitoring dialogue is still in progress. In the absence of any guidelines on this subject, the application for reopening of the monitoring procedure in respect of Latvia had to be treated as an application for initiation of a procedure. It was therefore necessary to appoint two co-rapporteurs, who, after visiting the country, drew up an opinion for the Bureau according to which it was unnecessary to reopen the procedure.

17.       In this matter there were therefore two parallel and somewhat conflicting approaches: that of the Chair of the committee, in the form of post-monitoring dialogue, and that of the two co-rapporteurs responsible for assessing whether or not the situation warranted the reopening of the monitoring procedure. Needless to say, this dual approach caused a certain amount of confusion, particularly in Latvia, where the authorities saw a succession of rapporteurs all dealing with the same question!

18.       The proposal by the Committee on Rules of Procedure is logical and procedurally appropriate: there is no need to appoint two co-rapporteurs to consider the desirability of reopening a monitoring procedure because in the case of a country where a post-monitoring dialogue is in progress, the Chair is familiar with the issues and will be able to give the Bureau an enlightened opinion. The Monitoring Committee also agrees that provision should be made for the possibility of the Chair delegating responsibility for post-monitoring dialogue to one of the Vice-Chairs, which will help the Chair to cope with an increasingly heavy workload. It should be remembered that, at present, five states are at the post-monitoring dialogue stage.

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Reporting committee: Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities

Committee for opinion: Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee)

Reference to committee: Doc. 9971, Reference No. 2896 of 25 November 2003 and Resolution 1412 (2004)

Opinion approved by the Committee on 16 March 2005

Head of the secretariat: Mrs Ravaud

Secretaries to the committee: Mr Gruden, Mrs Theophilova-Permaul, Mr Kotlyar.


1 See Doc 10407 tabled by the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities.

2 See Resolution 1260 (2001) and Doc.9198 – Progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure (2000-2001) – Rapporteur: Mr Mota Amaral (Portugal, EPP/CD).

3 See doc.9651 – Progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure – Rapporteur: Ms Durrieu (France, SOC).

4 The monitoring procedure concerning Turkey began in 1996 and was closed in June 2004 with Resolution 1380(2004).