Friday, 4 May 2007

Council of Europe and European Union III

The Council of Europe Summit in Warsaw (2005) gave the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Mr. Claude Juncker, the task to prepare a report on the relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union. The report, which Juncker prepared in his personal capacity and presented on 11 April 2006, is called: Council of Europe – European Union: “A sole ambition for the European continent”.

Juncker’s recommendations were:

Open the door to EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Recognition of EU bodies of the Council of Europe as the Europe-wide reference source for human rights.
The EU and the CoE should refer to the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights in all human rights problems not covered by the existing monitoring and supervisory machinery, and the Commissioner’s Office should be given the resources needed.
The EU Fundamental Rights Agency should deal with respect for fundamental rights solely in connection with the implementation of Community law.
The EU and the CoE should together devise machinery to promote and strengthen democracy, making full use of the existing CoE expert bodies.
The EU and the CoE should place a pan-European legal and judicial area (minimum-standards area) at the service of a Europe without dividing lines.
Co-operation under the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy should focus on the member states of the CoE and Belarus.
The organisations should develop co-operation in the fields of youth, education, culture and inter-cultural dialogue.
The organisations should stimulate an intra-European inter-cultural dialogue.
The EU and the CoE should make their institutional relations more substantial.
Closer inter-parliamentary ties should be forged.
Future Secretaries General should be chosen among leading European political figures.
Increased involvement of Foreign Ministers is highly desirable.
Introduction of medium-term budget planning ensuring needed resources for the CoE.
EU membership of the CoE by 2010.

Since then, the organisations have underlined their resolve to complete the draft Memorandum of Understanding and their desire to report on action concerning the proposals put forward in the Juncker report at the Ministerial meeting of the CoE in May 2007.

They have agreed that the European Agency for Fundamental Rights shall not encroach on the CoE’s position as the chief source and interpreter of European human rights standards, and they have agreed to negotiate a co-operation agreement with regard to the Agency.

Both organisations find it essential to preserve the effectiveness of the unique system of protection of human rights offered by the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a weeks time we are going to see what the Foreign Ministers of the Council of Europe are able to conclude.

Ralf Grahn