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Doc. 8732

18 April 2000

Opinion on the Draft European Landscape Convention1

Report

Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities

Rapporteur : Mr Guillermo Martinez-Casañ, Spain, Group of the European People’s Party

Summary

The Assembly has given strong political support to the initiative of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) to develop a new legal instrument aimed at protecting, managing and valorising the European landscape.

The process of drafting the European Landscape Convention is in its final stage. In March 2000, the Committee of Ministers invited the Assembly to give its opinion on the final text of the draft convention.

I.       Draft opinion

1.       European landscapes form the basis of our living environment, an indispensable element in every person’s quality of life. They represent our common European heritage and are a vital but fragile asset that we must pass on to future generations.

2.       In an evolving society with constant pressure on resources and the cultural heritage, both being integral parts of European landscapes, there is a growing need to apply innovative methods so as to reconcile the often conflicting needs of our societies and to sustain landscape as an important resource.

3.       As previously stated in Resolution 1150 (1998) and Recommendation 1393 (1998), the Assembly welcomes the draft European Landscape Convention, which aims to meet this challenge and congratulates the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) for taking the initiative.

4.       This proposal provides a coherent, dynamic and flexible framework for co-operation at European level. It takes into account the diversity of European landscapes, the varied nature of values attached to the concept of landscape, as well as numerous traditions of management and use of land throughout Europe.

5.       Today, the process of drafting the convention is in its final stages following the work by the select committee of experts, established by the Committee of Ministers with the purpose of finalising the text of the convention.

6.       The Assembly welcomes the fact that the final proposal put forward by the expert group was subject to a general consensus.

7.       Furthermore, it welcomes the strong support for the draft European Landscape Convention given by a number of delegations, such as the proposal by the Italian authorities to host a Conference devoted to the opening for signature of the convention during the Italian Presidency in autumn 2000.

8.       However, it takes note of the concern voiced by some of the government delegations involved in the debate, and agrees with their proposal and the initial position of the Committee of Ministers, that the follow-up to the convention be entrusted to existing inter-governmental committees of the Council of Europe.

9.       The Assembly agrees with the proposal of the German Delegation to amend article 14.2 and to increase to 10 the minimum number of signatory Parties necessary for the Convention to enter into force.

10.       In view of the aforementioned, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers :

i       adopt the European Landscape Convention as proposed by the select committee of experts with the exception of provisions regarding the European Landscape Committee and thus replacing Articles 10, 11 and 12 with an alternative Article 10 and 11, as defined in the appendix, and amendment of the article 14.2 so as to increase to ten the minimum number of Parties necessary for the Convention to enter into force;

ii       invite member states to sign and ratify the convention after its adoption by the Committee of Ministers;

iii       invite the European Union to adhere to the European Landscape Convention.

Appendix

Taking into account the opinion expressed by a number of delegations participating in the work of the above mentioned Committees - the Committee of the Activities of the Council of Europe in the field of biological and landscape diversity (CO-DBP) and the Committee on Cultural Heritage (CC-PAT) - and as a result of the consultation with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), your Rapporteur proposes to replace articles 10, 11 and 12 of the draft Convention by two new articles 10 and 11 as follows :

Article 10: Monitoring of the application of the Convention

1.       The competent Committee of Experts, set up by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in pursuance of Article 17 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, shall be responsible for monitoring the application of the Convention.

2.       Following each of the Committee of Experts’ meetings, the Secretary General shall transmit a report on the work carried out and on the operation of the Convention to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.

3.       Under its statutory powers, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe may forward an opinion to the Committee of Ministers on the aforementioned report.

4.       The Committee of Experts shall propose to the Committee of Ministers, in consultation with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the criteria for conferring and rules governing the “European Landscape Award”.

Article 11: European Landscape Award

1.       The “European Landscape Award” is a distinction which may be conferred by the Council of Europe on local and regional authorities that have instituted, as part of the landscape policy of a Party to this Convention, a policy or measures to protect, manage and/or plan their landscape, which have proved lastingly effective and can thus serve as an example to other territorial authorities in Europe.

2.       Applications for the “European Landscape Award” shall be submitted to the Committee of Experts by States. Transfrontier local and regional authorities and groupings of local and regional authorities may apply provided that they jointly manage the landscape in question.

3.       On proposals from the Committee of Experts and bearing in mind the opinion of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the Committee of Ministers shall define and publicise the criteria for conferring the “European Landscape Award”, adopt the relevant rules and confer the Award.

4.       The conferral of the “European Landscape Award” to local and regional authorities shall place them under an obligation to ensure the lasting protection, management and/or planning of the landscape areas concerned.

II.       Explanatory memorandum by Mr Martinez-Casañ

Contents

1. Historic background

2. Final stage : current issues

1. Historic background

The Assembly has been actively involved in the process of initiating and developing the draft European landscape convention since 1994, when the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) had set up an ad hoc working group with a purpose to prepare a draft convention.

Following a number of consultations with experts, representatives of the relevant international and non-governmental organisations as well as representatives of states and local and regional authorities, the CLRAE adopted a preliminary draft European Landscape Convention in Resolution 53 (1997) and subsequently Recommendation 31 (1997) proposing to the Assembly to examine the preliminary draft and to give its opinion.

On behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities, our colleague, Mr Ruffy, presented in March 1998, a report to the Standing Committee aimed at informing the Assembly of this initiative and proposing to give it its full political support.

As a result, the Assembly adopted the Resolution 1150 (1998) emphasising the importance and necessity of this initiative, which clearly identified the problems of Europe's landscapes putting forward innovative remedies distinguished by their democratic nature, their flexibility and scientific rigour.

After the final consultation with representatives of national ministries concerned (Florence, April 1998), the CLRAE adopted Recommendation 40 on the draft convention on European Landscapes in May 1998, inviting the Committee of Ministers to examine the proposal and the Assembly to provide it with its political support.

The Committee congratulated the Congress on its efforts which led to a draft convention. In his second report on "Management and protection of the landscape : a European convention", Mr Ruffy, considered the proposal to be a flexible legal instrument proposing common international rules and highly appropriate solutions. Furthermore, he drew attention to the fact that the draft convention targets both exceptional and ordinary landscapes and therefore meets the needs of many European citizens without concentrating exclusively on special sites.

In November 1998, the Assembly adopted Recommendation 1393(1998), expressing its full political support for the initiative and invited the Committee of Ministers to consider the draft European landscape convention with a view to its adoption in the near future, if possible at the end of the European Campaign on cultural and natural heritage (autumn 2000).

The Ministers' Deputies of the Council of Europe examined Recommendation 40 of the CLRAE in September 1998, and instructed the Committee of the Activities of the Council of Europe in the field of biological and landscape diversity (CO-DBP) and the Committee on Cultural Heritage (CC-PAT) to consider the need and feasibility of preparing a landscape convention text under the auspices of the Council of Europe.

CC-DBP and CC-PAT issued respectively their written opinions in February and April 1999 welcoming the holistic approach to the coherent management of the whole landscape of Europe. Both Committees endorsed the emphasis on quality of the process of landscape management as well as public participation and involvement in it, the recognition of local and regional responsibilities for the landscape in conformity with the principle of subsidiarity.

Furthermore, the Committees recognised the complementary values of a European Landscape Convention alongside the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern, 1979), the Convention for the Protection of Architectural Heritage of Europe (Grenada, 1985) and the European Protection of Archaeological Heritage (Valletta, 1992).

Finally, CC-DBP stressed the necessity to co-operate at the European level within the framework of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy in which the implementation of the draft convention ought to be seen.

At its 676th meeting in July 1999, the Committee of Ministers decided to set up a Select Committee of Experts on the Drafting of the European Landscape Convention with a purpose to finalise the text of the convention on the basis of the draft submitted by the CLRAE, paying particular attention to the framework for the follow-up of the implementation of the Convention (Articles 10 and 12).

2. Final stage : current issues

The Select Committee of Experts entrusted with a task to finalise the draft text, proposed some modifications. The former article 12 had been withdrawn and partly incorporated in the new article 11 which lists responsibilities of the body to follow the implementation of the Convention, as defined in the new article 10.

The current text of the draft convention proposes to establish a European Landscape Committee under the hospices of the Council of Europe. The Committee would be composed of one or more delegates representing each Party to the Convention. The functioning and the responsibilities of the new Committee, namely in overseeing the implementation of the Convention, are listed in Article 11.

According to the usual practice, the draft text has been also revised by the Directorate of Legal Affairs.

During the last joint meeting of CC-DBP and CC-PAT on 10 March 2000, the two Committees discussed the proposal of the Select Committee of Experts and comments which had been made by the Directorate of Legal Affairs. While there was a consensus for the general approval of the Convention as such, some delegations expressed their concern with regard to Articles 10 and 11 and the principle of creating a new European Landscape Committee.

The Rapporteur is equally aware of the initial position of the Committee of Ministers, concerned with the budgetary constraints faced by the organisation, to limit the number of expert Committees and therefore entrust the follow up of the convention to existing intergovernmental Committees.

Conclusions

The draft European Landscape Convention is generally accepted by all parties involved in the preparation and the preliminary drafting process as an extremely valid and rather innovative legal instrument which has its clearly set place in the international legislation dealing with the principles of sustainable development.

While there is a strong consensus on the overall provisions of the draft convention, the Committee of Ministers is faced with two options as regards the mechanism for the follow up of the convention. On the one hand, to pursue the proposal of the Select Committee of Experts to create a new Landscape Committee and, on the other hand, to maintain its own position, which is supported by a few national delegations as well as the CLRAE, to entrust the follow-up of the Convention to the existing intergovernmental Committees of the Council of Europe.

In order to allow for the adoption of the draft convention within a reasonable timeframe and possibly during the forthcoming Italian presidency, your Rapporteur proposes to the Assembly to recommend adopting the draft convention while opting for the second proposal which would entrust the follow-up to the convention to the existing intergovernmental Committees of the Council of Europe. As a result, articles 10, 11 and 12 of the draft text could be replaced by two alternative articles 10 and 11 as defined in the appendix.

It is important to note that the Explanatory Report of the European Landscape Convention ought to be aligned with the proposed articles. The Rapporteur therefore agrees with the amended text of the explanatory Report put forward in the Appendix to the opinion of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE).

Reporting committee : Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities

Budgetary implications for the Assembly : none.

Reference to committee : Doc. 8702 and Reference No. 2497 of 7 April 2000.

Draft opinion adopted by the committee on 4 April 2000.

Members of the committee: MM. Akçali (Chairman), Besostri, Haraldsson, Hoeffel (Vice-Chairmen), Andreoli, Angourakis, Bianchi (alternate : Pinggera), Bockel, Briane, Browne, Budisa, Mrs Burataeva, Sir Sydney Chapman, MM Ciupaila, Cox, Diana (alternate : Risari), Mrs Dromberg, MM Duivesteijn, Frunda, Graas, Mrs Granlund, Mr Guardans, Mrs Herzog, Mrs Hornikova, MM Hren-Vencelj, Kalkan, Mrs Kestelijn-Sierens, MM Kieres, Kittis, Kurykin, Kurucsai, Lachat, Linzer, Luczak, Martinez-Casan, Melo, Mezeckis, Mrs Mikaelsson, MM Minkov (alternate : Ivanov), Monteiro, Mota Amaral, Müller, Mrs Nagy, MM Pollozhani, Prokes (alternate : Duka-Zolyomi), Prosser (alternate : O'Hara), Rakhansky (alternate : Strizhko), Reimann, Rise, Salaridze, Mrs Schicker, Mr Schutz, Mrs Sehnalova, Mrs Severinsen, MM Skoularikis, Sobyanin, Steolea, Stepaniuc, Mrs Terpstra, MM Toshev, Truu, Vella, Zierer, N... (Russia) (alternate : Grachev).

N.B. The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretaries of the committee : Mrs Cagnolati, Mr Chevtchenko, Mrs Karanjac.


1 See Doc. 8702