Doc. 10666

13 September 2005

The Summits of the Council of Europe and of the European Union

Written question No 473 to the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers

Reply from the President of the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 936th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (7 September 2005)

I. Written Question No. 473 by Mr Iwiński (Doc. 10612)

The Third Council of Europe Summit in Warsaw was a great success, but the latest European Union Summit is considered as a defeat.

Mr Iwiński asks the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers:

Do you think this difficult situation in the Union will affect the implementation of the decisions taken at the Council of Europe Summit?

What can be done to minimise the adverse impact?

II. Reply by the President of the Committee of Ministers

Mr Iwiński’s Written Question expresses much the same concern as Mr Ferro Rodrigues’s oral question to the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers at the Parliamentary Assembly’s last part-session. The Committee accordingly refers to the answer given by its Chairman on 23 June 2005, in which he said that he shared these concerns regarding the difficult situation confronting the European Union. Noting that the President of the Assembly had expressed similar concern in his opening speech at the session, he singled out some of the points in that speech, with which he entirely agreed:

-       firstly, what is currently happening in the European Union concerns us all. Clearly, the repercussions of the political crisis we are experiencing reach beyond the circle of European Union member countries and also affect the Council of Europe, in particular;

-       secondly, there is a real danger of moving backwards. What we have succeeded in building up over several decades is not entrenched, much less irreversible. So it is absolutely essential to react, and before that to reflect on the causes of the current situation, especially the lessons to be drawn from the ballots in France and the Netherlands;

-       thirdly, this reaction must be based on what lies at the very root of European construction, namely our common values (democracy, human rights and the rule of law) as well as other matters of common interest, in particular in the legal, cultural, social and youth fields.

The Chairman underlined the role that could be played by the Council of Europe, which embodies the ideals and values that led to reconciliation between Europe’s peoples after the Second World War, then to the unity of the continent after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. He recalled the task entrusted at the Warsaw Summit to Jean-Claude Juncker, whom our Heads of State and Government expressly asked to “take into account the importance of the human dimension of European construction”.

In this context, the Committee of Ministers - and the governments of the member states of the Council of Europe, which it represents – are more than ever determined to implement rapidly and effectively the decisions taken at the Summit, bearing in mind the Council’s “core objective”, as defined in Warsaw: “preserving and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law”.

Specifically, alongside the ideas which Mr Juncker will be putting forward personally, negotiations will be starting on a “Memorandum of Understanding”, to serve as the basis of a revitalised co-operation and of strengthened political dialogue between the Council of Europe and the European Union. This process, in which diplomatic negotiations will proceed in parallel with more general policy discussions, will give – not just the Council of Europe and the European Union, but also all the governments of Europe – an ideal opportunity to send public opinion a joint message, expressing confidence in the future and determination to press ahead with the building of a stable, prosperous and united Europe.