Monday, 14 May 2007

Wanted: Secretary General

One of the recommendations of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, in his report on the relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union, was to raise the visibility of the Council of Europe by electing a new type of Secretaries General in the future:

“The Council of Europe should move, in electing its Secretaries General, towards choosing leading political figures, whose past work for democratic security has already given them a high and positive profile among their peers and the people of Europe. Ideally, and following the EU’s example, it should envisage electing someone who has already served as a head of state or government.”

The 11 May 2007 Communiqué of the Committee of Ministers responded positively to this proposal in general terms: it was decided to revise the procedure concerning the appointment of the Secretary General in order to enhance the visibility of the work conducted by the Council of Europe and its relations with the European Union.

The high-level group entrusted with examining the follow-up of the Juncker report noted that the next election takes place in 2009 and it proposed that the Committee of Ministers agrees, concerning the procedure for election of the Secretary General, that it will henceforth present to the Parliamentary Assembly candidates who enjoy a high level of recognition, are well-known among their peers and the people of Europe, and have previously served as Heads of State or Government, or held senior ministerial office or similar status relevant to the post, and asks the governments of the member states to present candidates who match this profile.

The pan-European Council of Europe, with 47 member states and 800 million Europeans as beneficiaries, is an inter-governmental organisation, which makes its progress cumbersome even in its areas of excellence: human rights, the rule of law and democracy.

The European Union (including the European Community) has taken peaceful integration to new levels, including attributed legislative and executive powers in a number of fields.

A new type of Secretary General may enhance the visibility of the important work done by the Council of Europe, instil it with some new dynamism and place the relations with the EU on a more equal footing.

The search is on.

Ralf Grahn