It is one of Europe’s current paradoxes that – at a time when the financial economic crisis poses a serious threat to the continent’s democratic and social order – the Council of Europe, which was set up to defend democracy, human rights and the rule of law and the values underlying that order, should now experience a de facto reduction of its resources, and this after a year of zero growth.
This regrettable situation is due not in the first place to lack of financial resources per se of the 47 members states of the Council of Europe, but rather to an insufficient awareness on the part of national governments and legislatures of the importance of the Council of Europe for the democratic future of the continent, raising the question of how increased awareness can be promoted.
One practical and easy way would be for each national parliament to commit to holding – in each of its component chambers in the case of bicameral parliaments – an annual debate on the activities and achievements of the Council of Europe during the year in question, and this in good time before that parliament decides on the Council of Europe’s budget for the following year. The participation in the debate by the Minister for Foreign Affairs should be ensured, so that he or she feels politically and budgetarily committed to the Organisation.
To help galvanise such activities in the Council’s member states, the leader of each national delegation shall provide annually to the bureau a report of their Parliamentary activities as outlined above.