16 January 2003
Work of the Parliamentary Assembly
Written Question No 418 to the Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers
Reply from the Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 823rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (9 January 2003)
I. Written Question No 418 by Mrs Rosmarie Zapfl-Helbling (Doc. 9582)
To ask the Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers,
What action she intends to take in the future to ensure that the work of the Parliamentary Assembly receives the necessary attention and follow-up, knowing that reports, recommendations, and resolutions adopted by the Council of Europe Assembly are not really seriously taken into account and implemented in the member states.
II. Reply by the Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers
1. Although the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers does not agree with the thrust of the question by Mrs Zapfl-Helbling, it gives him the opportunity to reaffirm his deeply-held belief in the value of the work of the Parliamentary Assembly for
• the Council of Europe as a whole
• its member states, who are its beneficiaries and
• the process of European construction.
2. The Maltese Chairmanship considers that the principal strength of the Council of Europe is precisely to pursue its important value-based goals through its unique inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary structure. Success depends on mutual support by the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly for each other’s complementary efforts to pursue the common goals.
3. The Committee of Ministers’ interest in the reports, recommendations and resolutions of the Assembly is not in doubt. Where recommendations are concerned, it is recalled that the Ministers’ Deputies, in 1998, introduced a target time-limit for a reply as from the time when Recommendations are communicated. Even if it was not always successful in achieving this target, it has systematically communicated to the Assembly its annual review of action on recommendations. The Assembly has expressed its appreciation in this respect.
4. The conclusion of the programme of the Maltese chairmanship, presented to the Standing Committee at its meeting in Malta on 18 November 2002, states the simple truth that the chairmanship will – “like its predecessors – continue to attach great importance to cooperation” between the Council of Europe’s two principal organs. The Committee of Ministers and its Rapporteur Groups develop their activities in contact with the Parliamentary Assembly and its Committees. Malta, for its part, has always taken the work of the Assembly seriously. It takes pride in the fact that its highest leaders have backgrounds of membership of the Assembly and of chairing a number of its committees. The Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers also counts on parliamentarians to defend the work of both organs in the capitals, a task for which Parliamentarians are particularly well placed and qualified.
5. The Chairmanship cannot therefore agree that the Assembly’s work “is not seriously taken into account in member states”. At the Standing Committee in Malta, for example, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, replacing the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Joe Borg, spoke with warm appreciation on the Assembly’s contribution to the European Conference on Access to Social rights, which he had chaired in the same week, reflecting the high priority given in the chairmanship programme to questions of social cohesion.
6. This same insistence on the worth of the Assembly’s work and the indispensability of cooperation, complementarity and mutually-reinforcing activities will continue throughout Malta’s chairmanship.