Winter session: urgent debate following Paris terrorist attacks, situation in Ukraine

An urgent debate following the Paris terrorist attacks, and debates on the protection of media freedom in Europe and on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, are among highlights of the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) taking place in Strasbourg from 26 to 30 January. Irish President Michael D. Higgins will also address the Assembly.

There will be a discussion of intolerance and discrimination in Europe, with a special focus on Christians, as well as a joint debate on equality and the crisis, and on the right to bargain collectively, including the right to strike. Parliamentarians will also discuss a report on relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, the current chair of the Committee of Ministers, will present its communication to the Assembly and will answer parliamentarians’ questions. Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland will also deliver an address. Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks will speak in the framework of the debate on Ukraine.

On the first day of the session, the Assembly will hold a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, at which Auschwitz survivors are due to speak.

The final agenda is decided by the Assembly on the opening day of the session.

Draft agenda

Monday 26 January

• Examination of credentials
• Election of the President and Vice-Presidents of the Assembly
• Commemoration ceremony of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
• Communication from the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly by Didier Reynders, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Belgium, Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers
• Progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee
Observation of the parliamentary elections in Tunisia (26 October 2014)
• Observation of the presidential election in Tunisia (23 November and 21 December 2014)
• Observation of the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova (30 November 2014)

Tuesday 27 January

• Possible election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Bulgaria and Serbia
The humanitarian situation of Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons and statement by Nils Muizneks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
• Address by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland
The implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union
The honouring of obligations and commitments by Montenegro
• Free debate

Wednesday 28 January

Protection of media freedom in Europe
• Communication from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe presented by Thorbjørn Jagland
• Joint debate:
- Equality and the crisis
- Protection of the right to bargain collectively, including the right to strike
and statement by Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization
Witness protection as an indispensable tool in the fight against organised crime and terrorism in Europe

Thursday 29 January

• Possible urgent debate or current affairs debate
Tackling intolerance and discrimination in Europe with a special focus on Christians
Post-electoral shifting in members’ political affiliation and its repercussions on the composition of national delegations

Friday 30 January

Democratic participation for migrant diasporas
Equality and inclusion for people with disabilities

Practical information

Live web stream: The session is streamed live on PACE’s website.
Press conferences: PACE President Anne Brasseur will give a press conference on Monday 26 January at 10.30 a.m. Other press conferences will be announced on the spot. They are streamed live over the web.

For TV planning units: videos in broadcast quality summing up PACE highlights can be downloaded for free no later than two hours after the event. Further information from the Council of Europe Audiovisual Service, tel. +33 3 88 41 25 64 (prior to the session) or +33 3 88 41 35 00 (during the session).

For accreditation: Directorate of Communication,

Further details: see the Assembly's website.

Contact: PACE Communication Division, tel. +33 3 88 41 31 93;