Doc. 11237
14 April 2007

Draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union

Request for an opinion from the Committee of Ministers


(TRANSLATION)

Strasbourg, 10 April 2007

Dear President,

I have the honour to enclose, for an opinion by the Parliamentary Assembly, the draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union that has resulted from the work carried out to date by the Committee of Ministers.

The representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly who attended the CM-SUIVI3 meeting held today were able to note that some paragraphs of the draft Memorandum of Understanding are still subject to adjustment.

In anticipation of the opinion of the Assembly, I remain yours sincerely

Guido BELLATTI CECCOLI

Chairman of the Ministers Deputies

PJ : Projet de Mémorandum d’Accord entre le Conseil de l’Europe et l’Union        européenne

M. René VAN DER LINDEN

President of the Parliamentary Assembly

of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg

Draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union

PREAMBLE

The Council of Europe and the European Union,

1. Seeking to achieve greater unity between the states of Europe through respect for the shared values of pluralist democracy, the rule of law and human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as through pan-European co-operation, thus promoting democratic stability and security to which European societies and citizens aspire;

2. Recognising the unique contribution of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as of other Council of Europe standards and instruments for the protection of the rights of individuals, and taking into account the importance of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as Article 6.2 of the European Union Treaty;

3. Recalling the Declaration and Action Plan adopted at the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in Warsaw in May 2005, and in particular the decision to create a new framework for enhanced co-operation and political dialogue, on the basis of the guidelines set out in Chapter IV of the Action Plan;

4. Bearing in mind the strategic vision contained in the report on the relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union prepared in his personal capacity and at the request of the Heads of State and Government by Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg;

5. Considering their comparative advantages and specific characteristics and building upon existing good relations;

6. Bearing in mind that the Heads of State and Government at the Third Summit of the Council of Europe in Warsaw decided that all activities of the Council of Europe must contribute to its fundamental objective, i.e. preserving and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and adopted an Action Plan which defines areas where the role of the Council of Europe as an effective mechanism for pan-European co-operation should be enhanced;

7. Have reached the following understanding for a new framework for enhanced co-operation and political dialogue:

PURPOSES AND PRINCIPLES OF CO-OPERATION

8. The Council of Europe and the European Union will develop their relationship in all areas of common interest, in particular the promotion and protection of pluralistic democracy, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, political and legal cooperation, social cohesion and cultural interchange. In doing so, they will follow the guidelines adopted by the Third Summit in Warsaw which called for the building of a Europe without dividing lines.

9. On the basis of enhanced partnership and complementarity, the Council of Europe and the European Union will take all the necessary measures to promote their cooperation by exchanging views on their respective activities and by preparing and implementing common strategies and programmes for the priorities and areas of shared interest set out below.

10. The co-operation will take account of the comparative advantages, the respective competences and expertise of the Council of Europe and the European Union - avoiding unnecessary duplication -, search for added value and make better use of existing resources. The Council of Europe and the European Union will acknowledge each other’s experience and standard-setting work, as appropriate, in their respective activities.

11. Decisions on priorities and modalities of co-operation will be taken within the European Union and within the Council of Europe according to their respective procedures.

12. They will extend their co-operation to all areas where it is likely to bring added value to their action.

SHARED PRIORITIES AND FOCAL AREAS FOR CO-OPERATION

13. The Council of Europe and the European Union reaffirm their commitment to establish close co-operation based on their shared priorities and, where possible, to strengthen their relations in areas of common interest such as:

- human rights and fundamental freedoms;

- rule of law, legal co-operation and addressing new challenges;

- democracy and good governance;

- democratic stability;

- intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity;

- education, youth and promotion of human contacts;

- social cohesion.

14. Other areas of shared priorities and common interest may be defined on the basis of mutual consultations.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms

15. The Council of Europe and the European Union will base themselves on the principles of indivisibility and universality of human rights, respect for the standards set out in this field by the fundamental texts of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, in particular the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the preservation of the cohesion of the human rights protection system in Europe.

16. The European Union regards the Council of Europe as the Europe-wide reference source for human rights. In this context, the relevant Council of Europe norms will be cited as a reference in European Union documents. The decisions and conclusions of its monitoring structures will be taken into account by the European Union institutions.

17. While preparing new initiatives in this field, the Council of Europe and the European Union institutions will draw on their respective expertise as appropriate through consultations.

18. In the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms, coherence of Community and European Union law with the standards resulting from Council of Europe Conventions to which European Union member states are parties, and primarily the European Convention on Human Rights, will be secured. This does not prevent Community and European Union law from providing more extensive protection.

19. Early accession of the European Union to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms would contribute greatly to coherence in the field of human rights in Europe.

20. Co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union will include the protection of persons belonging to national minorities, the fight against discrimination, racism, xenophobia and intolerance, the fight against torture and ill-treatment, the fight against trafficking in human beings, the protection of the rights of the child, the promotion of human rights education and freedom of expression and information.

21. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights strengthens the European Union's efforts to ensure respect for fundamental rights within the framework of the European Union and Community law. It respects the unity, validity and effectiveness of the instruments used by the Council of Europe to monitor the protection of human rights in its member states. The concrete cooperation between the Council of Europe and the Agency will be the subject of a bilateral co-operation agreement between the Council of Europe and the Community.

Rule of law, legal co-operation and addressing new challenges

22. The Council of Europe and the European Union will endeavour to establish common standards thus promoting a Europe without dividing lines, without prejudice to their autonomy of decision.

23. Bearing this in mind, legal co-operation should be further developed between the Council of Europe and the European Union. Coherence of Community and European Union law with the standards resulting from Council of Europe Conventions to which European Union member states are parties will be secured. This does not prevent Community and European Union law from adopting more far-reaching rules.

24. To the extent necessary and with a view to securing such coherence, the Council of Europe and the European Union will consult each other at an early stage in the process of elaborating standards.

25. The Council of Europe and the European Union will continue to strive to develop appropriate forms of co-operation in response to the challenges facing European society, and to enhance the security of individuals, particularly as regards combating terrorism, organised crime, corruption, money laundering and other modern challenges, including those arising from the development of new technologies.

Democracy and good governance

26. The Council of Europe and the European Union will draw on each other’s expertise and activities to promote and strengthen democracy and good governance, and to foster gender equality as well as greater participation of women in the decision-making process in public life.

27. They will make full use of the Venice Commission’s expertise. They will co-operate through the Forum for the Future of Democracy in order to promote democracy, citizen’s participation, democratic development and good governance. They will consider the application of new technologies in this context.

28. They will explore ways of working more closely in the field of regional and transfrontier co-operation. They will endeavour to promote local democracy in view of the contribution which it can make to the achievement of their shared objectives. They should make good use of the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Committee of Regions of the European Union, as well as the Centre of Expertise on Local Government Reform.

Democratic stability

29. Bearing in mind the common aim of strengthening democratic stability in Europe, the Council of Europe and the European Union will increase their common efforts towards enhanced pan-European relations, including further co-operation in the countries participating in the European Union's Neighbourhood Policy and the Enlargement process.

30. This co-operation will also include states aspiring for membership of the Council of Europe as soon as they comply with the relevant conditions[, such as Belarus].

Intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity

32. The Council of Europe and the European Union will consult each other in order to develop intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity with a view to promoting respect for human rights and mutual understanding among cultures in Europe. This dialogue is an important element in the fight against all forms of discrimination, racism and xenophobia.

33. The European Union will examine its participation in the inter-institutional open platform of co-operation for intercultural dialogue initiated by the Council of Europe and UNESCO at the Faro Ministerial Conference.

34. The Council of Europe and the European Union will promote ideas and values fostering cultural diversity both among their respective member states as well as in relevant international fora. In this spirit, the Council of Europe will promote the ratification and implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions by its member states. The Council of Europe and the European Union will promote its ratification and implementation by their international partners.

Education, youth and the promotion of human contacts

35. The Council of Europe and the European Union will co-operate in building a knowledge-based society and a democratic culture in Europe, in particular through promoting democratic citizenship and human rights education. They will support the Bologna process aimed at establishing a higher education area by 2010, as well as education networks and student exchanges at all levels.

36. The Council of Europe and the European Union will strengthen their co-operation in the youth field by developing and taking part in programmes and campaigns to empower young people to participate actively in the democratic process and by facilitating youth exchange.

37. They will encourage exchanges of good practices concerning freedom of movement, in order to improve people-to-people contacts between Europeans throughout the continent.

Social Cohesion

38. The Council of Europe and the European Union will co-operate in the field of social cohesion on the basis of the Council of Europe Social Charter and the relevant European Union texts.

39. On the basis of their respective frameworks, they will support the efforts by member states to exchange good practices on social cohesion and solidarity – in particular in combating violence, poverty and exclusion and in protecting vulnerable groups - and to develop more efficient policies in this field.

ARRANGEMENTS FOR CO-OPERATION

40. The Council of Europe and the European Union, within their respective policy frameworks, will consult regularly and closely, both at political and technical levels, on matters within the shared priority areas described above.

41. They should further continue to develop joint activities and co-operate through specialised Council of Europe structures, processes and initiatives as well as appropriate institutions of the European Union.

Meetings and mechanisms for strengthening co-operation

43. In addition to the regular “Quadripartite” meetings devoted to the most important aspects of co-operation and strategic issues, ad hoc consultations at a high political level may be held on topical matters of common interest.

44. More frequent consultations between, on the one hand, the Presidency/Troika of the European Union and, on the other hand, the Chairmanship and Vice-Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers and Secretary General of the Council of Europe may take place on an informal basis in the Ministers’ Deputies and at the level of the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

Inter-institutional co-operation

45. The European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe are invited to reinforce their co-operation in order to further strengthen the parliamentary dimension of interaction between the Council of Europe and the European Union, in accordance with the Agreement signed by the respective Presidents on …

46. The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the other specialised bodies of the Council of Europe, as well as the relevant European Union institutions are especially invited to reinforce their cooperation.

47. The Council of Europe and the European Union will further co-operate by using the opportunities provided by existing partial agreements and conferences of specialised ministers.

48. The Committee of the Regions of the European Union and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe are invited to increase co-operation, building on their agreement of 13 April 2005.

49. The contribution of civil society to achieving the objectives shared by the Council of Europe and the European Union will also be encouraged.

Joint Programmes

50. In line with the Joint Declaration on cooperation and partnership between the Council of Europe and the European Commission signed on 3 April 2001, ongoing co-operation will be reinforced in the framework of the joint programmes, which could include regional thematic programmes. The Council of Europe will continue to provide for consultations with Council of Europe beneficiary member countries. Consultations involving the European Commission, the Secretariat of the Council of Europe and as a general rule the Council of Europe member countries concerned will continue to be organised to discuss the priorities of co-operation. Member and observer states which are donors will be invited to take part in this co-operation and its evaluation.

VISIBILITY OF THE PARTNERSHIP

51. The Council of Europe and the European Union commit themselves to improving co-operation in the area of communication with the aim of increasing awareness and understanding of their shared values and of their partnership among both the general public and specialised audiences. They will consult on the calendar of their respective awareness-raising campaigns and will consider the possibilities of organising joint events.

52. The Council of Europe and the European Union will take all necessary measures to maximise the visibility of their joint action, especially of the joint programmes, for the citizens of their member states, with a special emphasis on the countries benefiting from this co-operation.

FOLLOW-UP

53. The Council of Europe and the European Union will regularly evaluate the implementation of the present Memorandum of Understanding. In the light of this evaluation, it will be decided by common agreement, not later than 2013, to revise, if necessary, the Memorandum of Understanding with a view to including new priorities for their co-operation.

Signed in two copies (English and French) at … on … 2007.