[Documents/Docheader.htm]

Council of Europe Development Bank: a voice for solidarity

Doc. 10246
2 July 2004

Opinion[1]
Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population
Rapporteur: Mr Márton Braun, Hungary, Group of the European's People Party

For debate in the Standing Committee — see Rule 15 of the Rules of Procedure


I.          Conclusions of the Committee

The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population proposes the following amendments to the draft recommendation contained in the report of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, based on the analysis made by its Rapporteur:

II.         Proposed amendments to the draft recommendation

Amendment A

After paragraph 6 add a new paragraph reading as follows:

"The Assembly reaffirms its support for the Bank's contribution to strengthening social integration by acting in favour of refugees, migrants and displaced populations. It recalls its Recommendation 1655 (2004) to create a European Migration Observatory/Agency, which could be the Bank's partner for the generation and implementation of projects in this field. In this context, it also welcomes the Bank's co-operation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), hoping that similar co-operation can be developed with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)."

Amendment B

After sub-paragraph 7.i add a new sub-paragraph reading as follows:

"to encourage the involvement of respective Council of Europe intergovernmental committees in identification, elaboration and design of projects for the Bank's activities in the field of migration with a special focus on the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe;"

Amendment C

After paragraph 7.ii.c add a new sub-paragraph reading as follows:

"to support the development of partnership programmes with non-member countries, members of the Council of Europe and to demonstrate a political will in facilitating the accession to the Bank of those countries which are not able to pay at once their membership contribution;"

III.        Explanatory memorandum by Mr Braun

1.         Introduction

1.         While preparing this opinion the Committee had a very useful exchange of views with Mr Apolonio Ruiz Ligero, Vice-Governor of the Development Bank of the Council of Europe during its meeting in Paris in December 2003. The Rapporteur would like to thank Mr Ruiz Ligero, Mrs Giusi Pajardi, Head of the Partial Agreement on the Development Bank of the Council of Europe and Mr Matthew Barr from the Private Office of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for the valuable information they provided on the CEB's activities and perspectives, in particular regarding migrants and refugees.

2.         Created in 1956 the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) was originally called "the Council of Europe Resettlement Fund for National Refugees and Over-Population in Europe". The original task of this bank, which was "to respond to the problems created by the presence of refugees and population movements in the aftermath of the second world war, " has evolved over the years, but the aid to refugees and migrants remains a statutory priority of the bank (Article II paragraph 1 of the Article of Agreement).

2.         Social integration of refugees, migrants and displaced population

3.         During the last three years the Bank has reinforced its activities regarding social integration. In practical terms, it means "acting in favour of refugees and migrants, improving social housing and employment, and fighting against the marginalisation of the most destitute."[2]  44% of the total amount of loans disbursed by the Bank in 1999-2003 were accorded in favour of increased social integration. The Committee can only encourage such a positive tendency.

4.         Thus, although Table 3 of the appendix to the Economic Affairs and Development Committee's report (Doc. 10204) on the distribution of projects by sectors approved by the Bank in 2000-2003 shows that the projects directly relating to refugees and migrants represent only 1,8% of the total amount of loans accorded in 2003, one should remember that loans affecting refugees and migrants were also channelled through other sectors of the Bank's activities for example social housing. A big project in favour of refugees was approved in Croatia, for an amount of 38.6 million Euros aiming at solving the housing problems that constitute an obstacle to the return of refugees.

5.         The Bank also made some donations to projects targeting refugees and minorities in "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The increased number of donations by the CEB from its Selective Trust Account to aid-projects for refugees and migrants is a very positive development in the Bank's activities and should be actively promoted in the future. The efficient use of donations will illustrate to non-member countries of the CEB how it can be helpful in solving their social problems.

6.         In the Committee of Ministers' reply to Recommendation 1524 (2001) on the Council of Europe Development Bank and in the discussions your Rapporteur had with the representatives of CEB's administration, it was stressed that too few projects submitted by member-countries in the field of aid to refugees and migrants. Taking into account the enormous problems of refugees, displaced persons and migrants in some Council of Europe member states linked to recent conflict situations, it could be helpful to use the Council of Europe expertise in identifying and elaborating projects, which could be financed by the CEB.  Such projects can be proposed, for example, for finding solutions to the resettlement problem of displaced persons and refugees. In this respect, the recommendation to create a European Migration Agency could be used for the generation of projects in this field and could be a partner in the implementation of such projects.

7.         The Committee agrees with the regrets expressed in the report of the Committee on Economic Affairs regarding the unilateral refusal by the CEB Administrative Council to continue the joint CEB-Council of Europe programme in the social cohesion field. The successful implementation in the framework of this joint programme of the project on social housing for refugees and displaced persons in South Eastern Europe (December 2002-March 2003), which resulted in the preparation of three feasibility studies with a view to prepare possible CEB loans in housing and housing infrastructure, has proved the interest to develop such form of co-operation between two institutions.

8.         The Committee considers that in the present situation, when many European countries are recovering from recent conflicts and are in great need of additional financial help for their social integration programmes, the CEB could increase its loans to projects responding to the social cohesion policy of the Council of Europe. It might also consider the elaboration of mechanisms of quick response to the social needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged population in the poorer countries and regions of Europe. For example, the bank could be involved in the resettlement projects for displaced Kurdish population in Turkey or integration projects in Montenegro.

3.         Solidarity with non-member countries

9.         The Committee welcomes the further rise in the number and the volume of CEB's operations in the transition countries. It also pays credit to the bank for its willingness to create the most favourable conditions for these countries by according interest rate subsidies to their projects through the use of its Selective Trust Account.

10.        Recalling the words of the CEB's Governor, Mr Alomar on a "specific vocation" of this bank "with emphasis on its action as a development bank promoting social cohesion within the framework of its statutory priorities" [3] the Committee would like to encourage the development of partnership programmes between the CEB and its non-member countries, members of the Council of Europe.

11.        The Bank and its member states could in the present situation put more emphasis on giving aid and loans to the countries which are not able to tackle the problems of their social development alone and need international assistance in combating the consequences of conflict situations. The peaceful settlement of political conflicts can be considerably facilitated by the solution of immediate social problems of the population such as aid to refugees, displaced persons and migrants.

12.        In the exchange of views with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Mr Schwimmer, the Secretary General mentioned the idea that the CEB could provide assistance to the refugees from the Nagorno Karabakh region. The bank could also be involved in financing of resettlement projects in Ingushetia and Chechnya. Such assistance can be channelled through the co-operation programmes with the UNHCR and the IOM.

13.        The Committee considers that the Assembly should encourage such countries as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine to consider their possible accession to the CEB family. At the same time the CEB member- countries should demonstrate their political will to facilitate the accession of those countries which are not able to pay at once their membership contribution.

4.         Co-operation with other international organisations

14.        The co-operation of the CEB with other international financial institutions and international organisations is a key element in enhancing its development impact and ensuring the best use of its resources.

15.        The experience of the last three years has shown that the co-operation with the UNHCR and the UNDP in co-financing and development of projects for the integration of refugees has significantly increased. The successful collaboration between UNHCR and the CEB for the project-donation in favour of Kosovo has resulted in the improvement of the living conditions of Roma and Serb refugees in Leposavic. The Rapporteur can only encourage the further collaboration between CEB and UNHCR with a view to developing new effective forms of partnership in the elaboration and implementation of long-term projects in the field of migration.

16.        In reaction to the Assembly's Recommendation 1607 (2003) on the activities of the International Organisations for Migration (IOM) which recommended the CEB to study the possibility of co-funding joint projects with IOM, the Bank has started to develop contacts with this organisation. The aim is to enhancing current cooperation activities and to make it possible for the CEB to coordinate efforts with the IOM by using its expertise in the field as well as its networks of contacts. This can help the member states to identify migration related projects that are suitable for CEB financing.

17.        The Committee fully agrees with the Rapporteur of the Committee on Economic Affairs and development that the CEB's cooperation with international organisations should make it possible to increase project portfolio to the less advanced transition countries including the CEB's non-member states.

5.         Conclusions

18.        The Rapporteur believes that the Bank's social vocation to help European countries in solving problems related to the presence of refugees, displaced persons and migrants should be more actively exploited by the member-countries of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe and its respective intergovernmental committees could be involved in the identification, elaboration and design of projects for the Bank's activities in the field of migration with a special focus on the countries in transition. It is also important to encourage the interest of non-member countries in the Bank's activities and to study possibilities of their involvement in joint projects with the member-countries as a first step to their integration in the Bank's family.

19.        The new forms of co-operation with international organisations such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) should be actively exploited with the aim of using their expertise and knowledge in the field of assistance to migrants and refugees. 


Reporting Committee: Committee on Economic Affairs and Development

Committee seized for opinion: Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population

Reference to Committee: Resolution 1235 (2000), Doc. 8869

Opinion approved by the Committee on 23 June 2004

Secretariat of the Committee: Mr Lervik, Mrs Nachilo, Mrs Sirtori-Milner, Mrs Kostenko


[1] See Doc 10204 tabled by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development.

[2] CEB. Report of the Governor 2003, p. 17

[3] CEB. Report of the Governor 2003, p.9