The Parliamentary Assembly’s work covers a broad range of topics, concentrating on the Council of Europe’s core values. Its resolutions and recommendations are addressed to member states and/or to the Committee of Ministers.
The Assembly also scrutinizes the work and achievements of organizations and institutions such as the OECD and the EBRD. Surprisingly, however, Council of Europe activities are only rarely on the Assembly’s agenda even if there are some reports on the Council of Europe’s North-South Centre and on the Council of Europe’s Development Bank.
In addition to voting on laws and budgets (neither of which are within the Assembly’s competences), a core-competence of Parliaments and parliamentary bodies‘, is scrutinizing the performance of governments, governing bodies and their administrations.
The relationship between the Assembly, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the Committee of Ministers is mainly formal. Statements by the Committee of Ministers and its Chairpersons’ communications and the reports by the Secretary General rarely create the basis for fruitful dialogue between the Council of Europe’s statutory bodies.
Given the crisis affecting the Council of Europe, the need for broader public visibility and efforts to reduce its expenditure, it would be important to strengthen co-operation between its statutory bodies. This could be effectively done, if the Assembly started to scrutinize the Council of Europe’s activities and programmes regularly, based on detailed reports by the Council of Europe institutions, its relevant directorates general and the Secretary General.
The Assembly’s recommendations could contribute to streamlining the Council of Europe’s activities, and consequently reduce expenditure. The Assembly could also transfer parliamentarians’ national experience to the Council of Europe. A specific contribution could be to use parliamentarians’ knowledge of Council of Europe programmes and their relevance in member states when evaluating Council of Europe’s activities.