A new Council of Europe summit to revitalise democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Europe

The PACE Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs today welcomed the prospect of a future Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State or Government in order to revitalise democracy, the rule of law and human rights, values which today were severely “under pressure”.

To this end, the instruments and institutions of the Organisation need to be “modernised and made more effective” and a summit would be an opportunity to discuss how to improve and enhance the Council of Europe convention system.

Unanimously adopting a draft recommendation on the basis of a report by Tiny Kox (Netherlands, UEL), the Committee stated that many steps have been taken since the Warsaw Summit in 2005 and improvements have been made, but “big gaps remain between what is wished by the member states and the Organisation and what is performed by them”.

Ratification of conventions is too often delayed so that “they cannot enter into force, implementation of conventions into domestic law is often slow and inaccurate and domestic legal frameworks too often dysfunctional”.

Accordingly, the Assembly members want the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to “add the future of the Council of Europe convention-based system to the agenda of the upcoming Council of Europe summit.

Attention must be focused on the effectiveness of the assistance programmes for the implementation of the standards set in the conventions, on how to strengthen the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights, and on the scope of the European Social Charter. In order that it becomes the benchmark for the EU’s social rights.

Similarly, it is essential to carry out a general evaluation of relations between the Council of Europe and other European organisations, examine the desirability of an EU–COE Memorandum of Understanding on EU participation in the Council of Europe conventions and draw up a road map for EU accession to the European Convention on human rights, in the light of the obligation laid down in the Lisbon Treaty.

The adopted text underlines the fact that the prospect of a fourth summit should be an opportunity for the Committee Ministers to undertake meaningful reflection on the future of the Organisation. To this end, member states should abstain from any voluntary actions which would result in the weakening of the intergovernmental co-operation which has contributed so much during the past decades to effectively unite the European continent.

The draft recommandation will be put to a vote by the Parliamentary Assembly at its next plenary sitting (Strasbourg, 9-13 October 2017).