Doc. 10595

20 June 2005

Enhancing the visibility of the Council of Europe

Motion for a recommendation

presented by Mr Van den Brande and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

1.       The Third Summit has clearly demonstrated the wish of the Council of Europe’s Heads of State and Government “to bring Europe closer to its citizens”. Many statements at the Summit referred to the lack of visibility of the Organisation.

2.       The recent “no” votes in the referendums on the EU Constitutional Treaty have also demonstrated how important it is for European organisations to clearly explain their activities to the people on whose behalf they work. Citizens have to feel that they are not just subjects, but also partners in the European construction.

3.       The Council of Europe in general, and PACE in particular, are ideally placed to give European democracy new dynamism by making Europe attractive. In this context, its political system, meaning its capacity to offer a practical response to people’s problems (the fight against inequalities, racism, unemployment, the violation of human rights etc) is at least as important as the performance of its communication policy.

4.       All organs and bodies of the Council of Europe should contribute to enhancing its political visibility, but this is especially important for PACE. Its primary role is to speak powerfully and clearly on behalf of the 800 million citizens in the Council of Europe area to the governments they have elected. Communicating its message is not, therefore, merely an adjunct to its work, but lies at the very heart of its democratic mission as part of the Council of Europe as such.

5.       As the most important – and in many cases the only – link between decision-makers and citizens, the media have a role of great importance. Being profit-oriented, however, national media often ignore European politics, which they believe to be complicated and uninteresting for a wider audience and therefore unattractive to cover.

6.       Information multipliers, including those at national, regional and local level, are therefore vital for successful communication and can not only help to disseminate information, but also act as instigators of open debate and ensure the active involvement of the civil society.

7.       PACE can additionally benefit, in communication terms, from the “dual mandate” of its members – placing it at the heart of national debates – and the fact that it is often to the fore in respect of issues relating to society. Finally it should be recognised that the content of the reports and statements produced by Assembly bodies, as well as their timing, will be the primary factors in determining the overall communication impact and its political visibility.

The Assembly therefore recommends to the Committee of Ministers:

-       to develop a partnership with national governments and parliaments, local and regional authorities as well as civil society by extending its communication beyond the usual target groups (and include national authorities, parliaments, local and regional authorities, international organisations and representatives of civil society, particularly local “multipliers” who enjoy credibility among the target audience, such as NGOs, universities, schools, youth organisations, trade unions, research centres, religious organisations, political parties and foundations);

-       to target its messages at defined groups by setting up a comprehensive, regularly up-dated data-base designed for this purpose, which should be accessible to all Council of Europe organs and bodies;

-       to enhance political visibility at national level by ensuring that reference is made to Council of Europe conventions and recommendations in the context of relevant national debates;

-       to set up co-operation with the Communication departments of national governments allowing the Council of Europe to benefit from their national media networks;

-       to develop evaluation tools in order to assess the impact of and to shape the Council of Europe’s communication policy (access to national press reviews measuring and analysing the organisation’s political visibility would be an important asset in this context);

-       to co-operate more closely with PACE in enhancing the Council of Europe’s visibility;

-       to strengthen the Council of Europe’s communication tools, including at PACE level.

Signed 1:

Van den BRANDE, Luc, Belgium, EPP/CD

AZZOLINI, Claudio, Italy, EPP/CD

CLIVETI, Minodora, Romania, SOC

de PUIG, Lluís Maria, Spain, SOC

EINARSSON, Mats, Sweden, UEL

EÖRSI, Mátyás, Hungary, LDR

GARDETTO, Jean-Charles, Monaco, EPP/CD

GLESENER, Marcel, Luxembourg, EPP/CD

KOSACHEV, Konstantin, Russia, EDG

MARGELOV, Mikhail, Russia, EDG

1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group