19 January 1993

Doc. 7001

COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS

Replies to Opinions Nos. 171 (1993) and 172 (1993)

and to Recommendations 1159 (1991), 1203 (1993),

1216 (1993), 1224 (1993) and 1225 (1993)

(adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 11 January 1994

at the 506th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)


Opinion No. 171 (1993)       on the Council of Europe general accounts and budgets for the years 1991, 1993 and 1994

and

Opinion No. 172 (1993)       on the programme-budget for the operational expenditure of the Assembly in 1994

Reply by the Committee of Ministers:

1.       In its Opinion No. 171, the Assembly "considers it necessary to continue to increase the budget so as to reach a minimum threshold that will enable the Organisation to meet the new challenges facing it: the enlargement of the Council of Europe, co-operation with the central and eastern European countries, inappropriate human resources and infrastructure, possible extension of the areas of responsibility of the Organisation".

      While taking account of the very difficult financial situation with which the governments of member States are faced, the Committee of Ministers considered the Secretary General's budget proposals, having in mind the necessity of pursuing an adaptation of the Council of Europe for needs in a new European context.

      In May 1993 the Committee of Ministers fixed the ceiling under which the 1994 ordinary budget was to be prepared at 775 million francs, to reflect its policy to hold the budget at zero real growth. This included an estimate of 3% to compensate for inflation. The Secretary General's final proposal for 1994 amounted to 791.4 million francs. The appropriations voted by the Committee of Ministers at the end of the budgetary discussions were 784 million francs for the ordinary budget. In addition to an increase of 2% for a revised estimate of inflation this amount includes the contributions of the new member States. The Deputies also decided to allocate 24.4 million francs resulting from the general budget balance in previous years to a suspense account, with 13 million francs earmarked for cooperation with the countries of central and eastern Europe and an initial 4 million francs in a special account "Follow-up to the Vienna Summit". Voluntary contributions and, when the Committee of Ministers so decides, sums from the unapportioned balance from previous years could also be paid into this account.

      With a package of 784 million francs, the ordinary budget which the Committee of Ministers voted for 1994 confirms the upwards trend recorded in recent financial years. If the subsidiary budgets and Partial Agreement budgets are taken into account, the resources available to the Council of Europe in 1994 exceed 1,100 million francs.

2.       The increase in budget appropriations and the extra resources referred to above will enable the Organisation to consolidate its achievements, take account of recent events, such as the accession of new member States, and embark on the initial follow-up to the Vienna Summit. The continuation of the programmes of co-operation with central and eastern European countries was one of the main factors taken into account when the 1994 budget was adopted. The appropriations under Vote IX ("Co-operation with the countries of central and eastern Europe") were thus maintained at the same level and, if the above-mentioned additional authorised expenditure of 13 million francs is taken into account, a total of 54.4 million francs has been earmarked for co-operation with the countries of central and eastern Europe. As in 1993, these countries will also benefit from their involvement in conventional programmes and activities under Vote II of the Budget.

3.       With regard to Parliamentary Assembly expenditure, the appropriations allocated by the Committee of Ministers under Vote III amount to 64,940,000 francs, which represents an increase for 1994 of 4,637,000 francs (7.69%) in comparison with 1993. Under Vote IX, the Committee of Ministers also voted for an appropriation of 3,500,000 francs for the Assembly's co-operation programme in 1994, an increase of 16.28% over the 1993 appropriation. These appropriations appear under a single sub-head of Vote IX of the Budget, managed by the Clerk of the Assembly; the Assembly therefore has full responsibility for their use.

      The Committee of Ministers was unable to meet all the staffing requirements referred to by the Parliamentary Assembly in Opinions Nos. 171 and 172. It nevertheless appreciated the priority needs referred to by the Parliamentary Assembly and approved all the requests put forward by the Secretary General, further to her discussions with the President of the Assembly, including those which it had not been possible to meet in 1993.

4.       With regard to the general running expenses of the Organisation, the budget approved for 1994 will bring further improvements. As for information policy, the Committee of Ministers has kept the funds allocated to this sector at the same level in 1994 as in 1993. In terms of human resources, 82 posts have been created with the result that the Organisation's staff will increase from 1,106 in 1993 to 1,188 in 1994.

5.       The Committee of Ministers took note of the other points made by the Parliamentary Assembly in its Opinions Nos. 171 and 172.

Recommendation 1159 (1991) on the harmonisation of autopsy rules

Reply by the Committee of Ministers:

1.       The Committee of Ministers has carefully considered Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1159 (1991) on the harmonisation of autopsy rules. It recalls that it has adopted an interim reply to the Recommendation in October 1991 and decided to bring the Recommendation to the notice of Governments of member States.

2.       With regard to the proposal in paragraph 6.i, the Committee of Ministers supports the adoption of an international instrument with minimum rules on the way autopsies are to be carried out, though it considers that such rules should firstly apply to autopsies other than those performed for medical reasons and secondly take account of specific features of member States' legal systems.

      It believes that such rules might, in particular, help combat and prevent torture by including provision whereby a further autopsy, whether total or partial, could be carried out if an autopsy had not been performed in accordance with the rules or an international delegation of forensic doctors could be present at autopsies in some cases.

      In December 1993, therefore, after consulting the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) the European Health Committee (CDSP), the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), the Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI) and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), it established the Ad hoc Committee of Experts to Study the Harmonisation of Autopsy Rules (CAHRA), whose terms of reference are as follows:

"Taking into account Recommendation 1159 (1991) of the Parliamentary Assembly and other international texts, including those of Interpol and the United Nations, to study the harmonisation of autopsy rules in cases of suspicious death from the legal, ethical and medical points of view and to make a list of the aspects which may form the subject of such harmonisation, with a view to drawing up minimum rules at international level in cases falling outside the autopsy carried out for medical purposes.

The Committee will take into account the opinions expressed by the various committees consulted by the Committee of Ministers and the legal framework in member States.".

      In addition the Deputies decided that the CAHRA would be composed of five experts - a lawyer specialising in criminal procedure, a doctor specialising in medical ethics and three forensic doctors from different legal systems. WHO and Interpol will be able to appoint an observer to the committee.

      The Committee of Ministers will inform the Assembly in due course of the outcome of the committee's work.

3.       With regard to the proposal in paragraph 6.ii, the Committee of Ministers endorses it, but takes the view that the term "suspicious death" needs clarifying as far as possible since a post-mortem examination other than an autopsy may be sufficient to clear up circumstances of a death which are initially unclear. It believes, however, that an autopsy is essential at least in all cases in which a criminal offence is suspected.

4.       With regard to the proposal in paragraph 6.iii, the Committee of Ministers recognises the importance which the Assembly attaches to the Interpol guidelines on disaster victim identification. These guidelines are valuable tools for international co-operation in that field even though they are not compulsory. The Committee of Ministers agrees with the Assembly on this point and believes that States should follow them more closely.

5.       With regard to the proposal in paragraph 6.iv, the Committee of Ministers would point out that the Agreement on the Transfer of Corpses (ETS No. 80) has received 14 ratifications so far, the latest of which was in March 1992. The Committee urges member States which have not yet done so to ratify the agreement.

6.       With regard the proposal in paragraph 6.v, the Committee of Ministers recalls that the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ETS No. 126) has been ratified by 24 States and there have been a number of ratifications in the last two years. The Committee of Ministers urges member States which have not yet done so to ratify the Convention.

7.       With regard to the proposal in paragraph 6.vi, the Committee of Ministers would refer to the terms of reference of the committee of experts which it has established. If and when the committee's work results in the adoption of rules such as the Parliamentary Assembly recommends, the Committee of Ministers will make a supplementary reply to the Assembly.

Recommendation 1203 (1993) on Gypsies in Europe

Reply by the Committee of Ministers:

1.       Generally, the Committee of Ministers agrees with the Parliamentary Assembly that Gypsies greatly contribute to the cultural diversity of Europe.

2.       Regarding the particular points raised in Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1203 (1993) on Gypsies in Europe, the Committee of Ministers recalls that the Summit of Heads of State and Government adopted a Declaration on National Minorities, in pursuance of which the Committee of Ministers, at its 93rd Session on 4 November 1993 gave terms of reference to the ad hoc Committee for the Protection of National Minorities (CAHMIN) to draw up a framework convention and a protocol complementing the European Convention on Human Rights. The Heads of State and Government also adopted a Declaration and Plan of Action on combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance which provides among other things for the creation of an ad hoc Committee of Governmental Experts. The terms of reference of this Committee were adopted by the Ministers' Deputies at their 506th meeting (January 1994). The Committee should begin its work in the near future.

      The following information should be considered in the light of these measures and decisions.

3.       With regard to paragraphs 11.i - v of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1203 (1993) on Gypsies in Europe, it should be noted that a revised and expanded version of the report prepared by the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC) in 1984 on the theme "Gypsies and Travellers" will be published in the near future. This updated report, which is designed amongst other things to give a better understanding of gypsies and travellers by providing knowledge about their culture and life style, will include data on gypsies and travellers living in Central and Eastern Europe.

      With regard to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, it should be noted that the provisions of Part III of the Charter ("Measures to promote the use of regional or minority languages in public life") do not apply to languages which lack a territorial base, such as the Romany language. On the other hand, Part II ("Objectives and principles") could more easily be applied to "non-territorial languages".

4.       As far as paragraphs 11.vi-viii of the Recommendation are concerned, it is recalled that the report "Gypsies and Travellers" is also designed to provide knowledge about the treatment they have undergone throughout history. It is also recalled that, since 1983, the CDCC has organised, as part of its Teacher Bursary Scheme, a series of training courses for teachers as well as seminars on schooling for gypsy and traveller children.

5.       With regard to paragraphs 11.ix - x, the Ministers' Deputies, at their 497th meeting (September 1993), taking account of Assembly Opinion No. 173 (1993), instructed the Secretary General to communicate Resolution 249 (1993) of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) to the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) (in particular paragraph 10.v) and to the Steering Committee on the Mass Media (CDMM) (in particular paragraph 10.vii) for them to bear it in mind in their work and in drawing up proposals for future intergovernmental programmes of activities.

6.       With regard to paragraphs 11.xi - xvi, it is recalled that, at their 498th meeting (21 September 1993), the Ministers' Deputies continued their work on national minorities, in the light of the final activity report submitted to them by the CDDH, in accordance with the terms of reference assigned to it. It should be noted that the CDDH felt that the definition of the notion of national minorities was particularly complex with regard to gypsies, who lack a territorial base, and that, in any case, this group should be the object of special protection.

      It is further recalled that, at their 404th meeting (February 1987), the Ministers' Deputies took note of the conclusions contained in the Final Activity Report on legal problems linked with the movement of nomads, drawn up by the Ad Hoc Committee of Experts for identity documents and movement of persons (CAHID).

In particular, the Committee of Ministers has transmitted paragraph 11.xvi to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for information, and to the Ad Hoc Committee of Experts on Legal Aspects of Territorial Asylum, Refugees and Stateless Persons (CAHAR) for it to bear it in mind in its work.

7.       Concerning paragraphs 11.xvii - xviii, it is recalled that in Resolution 249 (1993) of the CLRAE on Gypsies in Europe: the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities, the CLRAE invited local and regional authorities to take necessary measures as part of an overall strategy to facilitate the integration of Rom/Gypsies into the local community, in the area of housing, caravan sites, education, health and support for the expression and development of these people's identity and culture. It also invited local and regional authorities to encourage Rom/Gypsies themselves to collaborate and participate in projects to foster their integration, and to help develop networks of municipalities with a view to achieving these aims.

      At their 497th meeting (September 1993), the Ministers' Deputies, taking account of Assembly Opinion No. 173 (1993), instructed the Secretary General to communicate this Resolution to the CDCC (in particular paragraphs 10.iv and 10.vii), in order for it to bear it in mind in its work and in drawing up proposals for future intergovernmental programmes of activities.

8. With regard to paragraph 11.xix - xxiii, on general measures, the Ministers' Deputies, within the framework of their consideration of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1180 (1992) on citizens' participation in politics, have adopted Resolution (93) 38 on Relations between the Council of Europe and Non-governmental Organisations. In this Resolution the Committee of Ministers recognises that "the need to make use of all available information on the resolution of problems of common concern gives rise to the need to take greater account of non-governmental organisations which assume various societal functions and enhance the participation of all citizens."

      It should also be noted that, at their 497th meeting (September 1993), the Deputies instructed the Secretary General to communicate CLRAE Resolution 249 (1993) for information to the Commission of the European Communities (in particular paragraph 12) and to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) (in particular paragraph 13).

      Moreover, at their 497th meeting (September 1993), instructed the European Committee on Migration (CDMG) to give an opinion on proposals contained in CLRAE Resolution 249 (1993), in particular on paragraph 10.vi containing the proposal to organise a forum on the implications of Gypsy migration and their situation in this context.

      It should be added that, within the framework of activities of the European Committee on Migration (CDMG), a survey is being undertaken to gather information on activities undertaken concerning Gypsies by other international institutions and intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations. The results of this survey will be combined with a document containing information on Council of Europe activities regarding Gypsies in order to provide a complete overview of the situation in Europe on this issue.

      The Committee of Ministers has assigned terms of reference to the CDMG to conduct an in-depth study on the various aspects of the situation and conditions of life of Gypsies in the new European context. This work should be carried out in close co-operation with the work pursued in particular within the European Union.

      In addition the Committee of Ministers has taken note with interest of the Parliamentary Assembly's proposal (paragraph 11.xxii) concerning the appointment of a mediator for Gypsies, a proposal which could be examined in the light of work done in other bodies so as to avoid duplication of work, in particular with the activities of the CSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities.

Recommendation 1216 (1993) on European Cultural Co-operation

Reply by the Committee of Ministers:

1.       The Committee of Ministers subscribes fully to the ideas of the importance and role of cultural co-operation expressed in the considerations to Recommendation 1216. Cultural co-operation is an intrinsic and essential part of the Council of Europe's mission, and since the European Cultural Convention permits accession by non-member States, cultural co-operation within the Council of Europe currently brings together 38 States. This is a field facing profound change in order to face the needs of new States Parties to the European Cultural Convention, and thus, necessary adjustments to content and working methods in cultural co-operation.

2.       The Committee of Ministers demonstrated its own commitment to the need to promote and develop cultural co-operation by deciding in March 1992 to instruct the Secretariat "to carry out a preliminary study of the future orientations of cultural co-operation in Europe". Since the study was issued in July 1992, it has been the object of in-depth consideration by the Ministers' Deputies, both in plenary meetings and through their Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture and Sport, which also held consultations with the Bureau of the Council for Cultural co-operation (CDCC) concerning the study. The Ministers' Deputies will now continue their examination of the ideas presented in the study in the light of the results of the Vienna Summit (8-9 October 1993).

3.       The importance of cultural co-operation was emphasised by the Heads of State and Government in the Vienna Declaration which was adopted at the end of the Summit:

      In particular, the Heads of State and Government resolved:

-       "to invite the Council of Europe to study the provision of instruments for stimulating the development of European cultural schemes in a partnership, involving public authorities and the community at large".

      Moreover, the cultural dimension is very much present in those decisions of the Summit concerning national minorities and the Plan of Action against racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

      At their 500th meeting (October 1993), in the context of their debate on the follow-up to the Summit, the Ministers' Deputies instructed the Secretariat to draw up as soon as possible, proposals concerning the provision of instruments for stimulating the development of the European cultural schemes in a partnership involving public authorities and the community at large.

4.       In addition to the above, and turning to the detailed points made in Recommendation 1216, the following should be noted:

-       Regarding co-operation with the European Union (paragraph 16.ii of the Recommendation), the CDCC's general political debate on the future orientations of cultural co-operation in Europe (held at the 61st Session of the CDCC in January 1993, with the participation of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Chairmen of the Ministers' Deputies and of their Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture and Sport, and the Secretary General) showed a consensus within the CDCC concerning the need for greater co-operation between the Council of Europe on one hand and the European Union and other international organisations on the other. This co-operation should be based on complementarity.

-       With respect to participation by interested non-European countries (paragraph 16.iii), it is recalled that at its 92nd Session (May 1992) the Committee of Ministers adopted Statutory Resolution (93)28 on Partial and Enlarged Agreements, in the preamble to which it is noted that "in some cases the problems dealt with in the Council of Europe outstrip the geographical framework of the territory of its members and that the Organisation must be ready to examine any proposal emanating from non-member States for the joint carrying out of an intergovernmental activity". Ways are being considered of implementing Statutory Resolution 93 (28) in the field of cultural co-operation.

-       Co-operation with other international organisations (paragraph 16.iv) is actively under way: with the Europe Region of Unesco, the Council of Europe is collaborating in projects to create a joint network of national information centres on academic mobility, and to replace existing Conventions on academic mobility and recognition of qualifications by a single Council of Europe/Unesco instrument on this question.

      Regarding the CSCE, it is recalled that pursuant to the Conclusions of the Committee of Ministers' Special Ministerial Meeting in Istanbul (September 1992), the preparation of the seminar "Education: structures, policies and strategies" for all countries participating in the CSCE has been the major task of the Secretariat in the Education sector. The Seminar took place in Strasbourg on 7-10 December 1993, and dealt in particular with education for democratic and pluralist societies and education for a changing world of work and a market economy. The Seminar gave rise to a fruitful and concrete exchange of views.

-       Concerning the recommendations made in paragraphs v and vi of the Recommendation concerning activities relating to young people: at their 496th meeting (June 1993), the Ministers' Deputies took note of the Final Text of the 4th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth (Vienna, April 1993). Follow-up to this text has been given in Field V (Youth) of the Intergovernmental Programme of Activities for 1994, adopted by the Ministers' Deputies at their 502nd meeting (December 1993), with the inclusion of a new project "Youth information and counselling" as well as the pursuit of the existing Project on "Youth mobility". Moreover, the European Steering Committee for intergovernmental co-operation in the youth field (CDEJ) has set up three working groups, drawn from its own members, to assure a follow-up to the Final Text of the Conference in the following key areas: fostering enterprise and participation among young people; promoting youth mobility and exchanges; and information for young people.

      At their 497th meeting (September 1992), the Ministers' Deputies decided to accept the invitation of the Hungarian Government to establish the Second European Youth Centre in Budapest, and at their 502nd meeting (December 1993) made provision within the 1994 Budget of the Council of Europe for the opening of the Second Youth Centre in 1994.

      The creation of a network of national and local youth centres is presently being examined within the Governing Board of the European Youth Centre and Youth Foundation, whose proposals will be submitted to the Committee of Ministers in due course.

-       With regard to promoting the diversity of cultural creativity (paragraph 16.vi), the Assembly's attention is drawn to the CDCC's decision to reinforce activities such as "Books, Reading and Translation" (Project IV.35 of the Intergovernmental Programme of activities) and "Promotion of cultural creativity and dissemination" (Service activity No. 306) through, in particular, the promotion and support of cultural networks. Attention is also drawn to Projects IV.02 - "Centenary of Cinema" and IV.34 - "Promotion of European Cinema", and to the fact that, at their 492nd meeting (April 1993), the Deputies adopted Resolution (93) 10 amending the Statute of Eurimages so as to enable it, among other things, to grant aid "to support and develop the exploitation of European films and audiovisual works in the member States of the fund".

-       With regard to Central and Eastern Europe (paragraph xii), the CDCC intends to continue and intensify its technical co-operation and assistance programmes with countries having particular needs along the lines of the task force organised in Albania and the technical missions to Croatia.

-       Finally, with regard to the dissemination of results (paragraphs 16.xv and xvi), there was a very strong consensus in the CDCC's general policy debate that information and publicity matters constituted a major preoccupation for the future of cultural co-operation. The CDCC stresses that any information and publicity policy should have a double objective: to promote the profile of the Organisation, and to facilitate the integration of new member States.

      Considerable efforts are being made by the Secretariat (more information bulletins, production of posters and publications, improvement of presentation) and by the member States (translation and dissemination of Council of Europe publications). The Committee of Ministers encourages national delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly to make full use of Council of Europe information material and of any opportunities in their Parliaments and their constituencies to raise the profile of the Council of Europe.

Recommendation 1224 (1993)       on the protection and management of freshwater resources in Europe

Reply by the Committee of Ministers:

1.       The Committee of Ministers is aware of the problems which the management of European freshwater resources poses. In this connection it reaffirms the basic principles stated in paragraph 2 of the European Water Charter, which it adopted in 1967.

2.       Paragraph 13.i of the Recommendation. Under the Intergovernmental Programme of Activities for 1994 the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Authorities (CDLR) will be starting an activity entitled 'Environment and local authorities' to assess how member States apportion powers and responsibilities among the various tiers of government particularly in the area of drinking-water supply.

3.       Paragraph 13.ii. The Committee of Ministers has forwarded Recommendation 1224 to the CLRAE so that it can take it into account in its work.

4.       Paragraphs 13.iii and iv. The Steering Committee for the Conservation and Management of the Environment and Natural Habitats (CDPE) no longer deals directly with water matters, except through its concern for soil conservation, of which water is an important aspect. In this context the CDPE will be publishing in early 1994 a 'Handbook on Soil Conservation in Europe' (prepared by the Group of Specialists on Soil Conservation), which also deals with the state of the Rhine Valley water-table. This work was carried out under the 1993 Intergovernmental Programme of Activities. The Committee of Ministers has forwarded to the CDPE paragraph 13.iv of the Recommendation, concerning preparations for the 3rd Pan-European Ministerial Conference on the Environment (Sofia, 1995).

5.       Paragraph 13.v. One of the two themes of the 10th European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT) (Oslo, 6-7 September 1994) is to be 'Strategies for a rational and sustainable management of water resources'. The Committee of Ministers has forwarded the Recommendation to the Committee of Senior Officials to prepare the 10th CEMAT so that it can take it into account in its work.

6.       Paragraph 13.vi. The Committee of Ministers has forwarded Recommendation 1224 to the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC) and the European Federation of Scientific Networks (which brings together scientific and technical co-operation networks established under Council of Europe auspices) so that they can take it into account in their work.

Recommendation 1225 (1993)       on the management, treatment, recycling and marketing of waste

Reply by the Committee of Ministers:

1.       The Committee of Ministers shares the concern about waste management which the Parliamentary Assembly voices in Recommendation 1225 (1993).

2.       Paragraph 16.i of the Recommendation. In October 1993 the Committee of Ministers instructed the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Authorities (CDLR) to consider further the draft protocol to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities (ETS No. 106). The Deputies will be considering the CDLR's revised draft in spring 1994.

3.       Paragraph 16.ii. The CDLR's work programme for 1994 includes an activity entitled 'Environment and local authorities' whose purpose is to assess how member States apportion powers and responsibilities among the various tiers of government particularly in the field of the collection and disposal of waste. The Committee of Ministers has forwarded Recommendation 1225 to the CDLR so that it can take it into account in its work.

4.       Paragraph 16.iii. It has forwarded Recommendation 1225 to the CLRAE to have it ask the European Network of Training Centres for Local and Regional Authority Staff to take account of the question of waste management and European exchange of national experience in this field in its work, in particular in the training programmes of the centres members of its network.