17 June 2005
Parliamentary Assembly's contribution to the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe
Recommendation 1693 (2005)
Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 930th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (15 June 2005)
1. The Committee of Ministers has taken note with the greatest interest of Recommendation 1693 (2005), adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly on 26 January 2005, which was a major contribution to preparatory work for the Third Summit.
2. The Committee of Ministers wishes, first of all, to express its appreciation of the active part played by Assembly in preparing this political event, which is vital for the Council of Europe’s future. Its involvement went back to the beginning (since the holding of a third summit, after those held in Vienna in 1993 and in Strasbourg in 1997 was first suggested by the Assembly in 1999), and continued until the Summit itself, through its President’s active participation in the discussions held in Warsaw. It is one of the factors in the Summit’s success.
3. The Assembly’s proposals in Recommendation 1693 (2005) cover a very wide range of political issues and related practical measures. They coincide to a large extent with the proposals made by member states during the preparation of the Summit, and they fuelled the discussion which led to the adoption by the Heads of State and Government of the Warsaw Declaration and accompanying Action Plan.
4. The purpose of the present reply is not to make a detailed comparative analysis of the proposals contained in Recommendation 1693 (2005) and the texts finally adopted by the Heads of State and Government in Warsaw. However, the Committee of Ministers wishes to draw the Assembly’s attention to the fact that the main results which emerged from the Summit reflect an extensive community of views between the Council of Europe’s two statutory bodies on the political challenges which the European project now faces, and on the action to be undertaken, both within the Council of Europe and in co-operation with the other players on the European and world scene, to meet them. This convergence is particularly clear in the case of:
- affirmation of European unity, based on the values embodied in the Council of Europe’s Statute in 1949: democracy, human rights and the rule of law;
- the important part played by the Council of Europe’s work on social cohesion and cultural co-operation as enabling factors for the full realisation of the fundamental values shared by its member states;
- the absolute necessity of preserving the long-term effectiveness – and thus credibility – of the monitoring system established by the European Convention on Human Rights;
- the need to strengthen the Council of Europe’s work on democracy, particularly by establishing a forum on the future of democracy;
- the importance of the Council of Europe’s system of conventions as a basis for a pan-European legal area, and an instrument to strengthen the rule of law on a continental scale;
- the importance of objective, non-discriminatory monitoring of the commitments and obligations entailed in Council of Europe membership, by all appropriate means, and particularly political dialogue between the member states;
- the necessity of increasing the Council of Europe’s contribution to international action in response to present threats and challenges, such as terrorism, corruption and organised crime, trafficking in human beings, cybercrime and bioethics;
- the need to promote a culture of democracy among citizens, and to encourage intercultural and
inter-religious dialogue within European societies, and between Europe and neighbouring regions;
- the importance of clarifying the respective roles of the various European organisations, with a special emphasis on increased co-operation and interaction between the Council of Europe, the European Union and the OSCE (in this connection, the Committee of Ministers has noted with interest the Assembly’s proposal for “a European summit in 2006 or 2007 involving all the European and Euro-Atlantic organisations”).
5. The Committee of Ministers will now be devoting all its energies to rapid, effective and transparent implementation of the decisions taken at the Summit. At their 930th meeting (15 June 2005), the Ministers’ Deputies:
- took note of their Chairman's proposals in his letter of 14 June 2005 concerning, on the one hand, the setting up of the Group of Wise Persons responsible for drawing up a long-term strategy for ensuring the effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights, and, on the other hand, the arrangements for following up the Summit;
- on this basis:
i. invited member states to put forward to the Chair, by 31 July 2005, candidatures for the Group of Wise Persons, on the basis of the following criteria:
- candidates are to have the qualities of integrity and independence essential to the exercise of their functions. In particular, they are to have no hierarchical link with a government of a member state or with a Council of Europe body;
- the group should bring together the following skills: detailed knowledge of the European Convention on Human Rights control mechanism; recognised competence in the field of international law and its application at national and international levels (in this respect, a balance should be struck between the different European legal systems); experience of the management of a national or international court comparable to the European Court of Human Rights;
- at least one member of the group should have recognised expertise in auditing and financial management.
The Chairman will be chosen by the members of the group.
The group should have a restricted membership (possibly between 9 and 11 persons) taking account of the geographical balance of member states and of gender balance.
ii. invited the Chair, after consultations (including with the President of the Parliamentary
Assembly), to make proposals concerning the composition of the Group of Wise Persons at their first meeting of September 2005;
iii. decided to set up an ad hoc committee (CM-SUIVI3) open to all delegations, responsible for supervising follow-up of the Declaration and implementation of the Action Plan adopted at the Summit, to be chaired by the Chairman of the Ministers’ Deputies;
iv. agreed that the Parliamentary Assembly and Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe should be involved in the work of the CM-SUIVI3 on the basis of appropriate arrangements.
- took note of the Secretary General's proposals concerning the implementation of the Action Plan, as they appear in document CM(2005)97, and agreed that the CM-SUIVI3 will examine them at its first meeting, in July 2005;
- took note of the proposals by Poland concerning the first meeting of the Council of Europe Forum on the future of democracy set up by the Third Summit, and agreed that the CM-SUIVI3 will also examine them at the first meeting.
6. The Committee of Ministers will keep the Assembly closely involved in the follow-up of the Summit. It knows that it can count on its co-operation in this respect.