At its meeting on 28 June 2013, the Bureau appointed me as rapporteur for this report. Since then, the Bureau has met once, on 2 September 2013 in Dubrovnik (Croatia).
This progress report covers the period from the last Bureau meeting of the third part-session (Friday 28 June 2013) to the first Bureau meeting of the fourth part-session (Monday 30 September 2013), leaving inside the decisions of the Bureau of 30 September which will be ratified at the opening of the fourth part-session of the Assembly.
The Bureau will hold its next meetings in Strasbourg on Monday 30 September 2013 at 8 am and Friday 4 October 2013 at 8.30 am (during the fourth part-session), then on 21 November 2013 in Vienna. The next meeting of the Standing Committee will also be held in Vienna on 22 November 2013.
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau approved the following proposals made by the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly:
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau approved the following proposal made by the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly:
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau drew up the preliminary draft agenda and decided to invite Ms Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children, in the context of the debate on Children’s right to physical integrity,Note and Mr Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC, in the context of the debate on Missing persons from Europe’s conflicts: the long road to finding humanitarian answers.
On 2 September 2013, it drew up the draft agenda.
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau took note of the press release issued by the ad hoc committee. On 2 September 2013, it approved the final report of the ad hoc committee.
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau approved the composition of the ad hoc committee and appointed Mr Robert Walter (United Kingdom, EDG) as Chairperson. On 2 September 2013, it approved the updated composition of the ad hoc committee.
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau approved the composition of the ad hoc committee and appointed Ms Meritxell Mateu Pi (Andorra, ALDE) as Chairperson. On 2 September 2013, it approved the updated composition of the ad hoc committee.
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau took note of the elections calendar 2013/2014 as presented in the memorandum prepared by the Secretary General of the Assembly.
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau approved the following references, which were subsequently ratified by the Assembly:
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau authorised Mr Jean-Marie Bockel (France, EPP/CD), rapporteur on Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq: how to organise and support international assistance?, to conduct a fact-finding visit to Lebanon, Turkey and possibly Syria in August 2013, in the framework of the preparation of his report. The visit to Lebanon and Turkey was carried out from 19-22 August 2013.
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau authorised Ms Liliane Maury Pasquier (Switzerland, SOC), rapporteur on the Parliamentary contribution to solving theWestern Sahara conflict, to conduct a fact-finding visit to Algeria, and Mr José Maria Beneyto (Spain, EPP/CD), rapporteur on the Political transition in Egypt to conduct a fact-finding visit to Egypt, in the framework of the preparation of their respective reports.
The Bureau took note of communications by the President of the Assembly and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
On 28 June 2013,the Bureau took note of an information memorandum, containing a draft programme of the World Forum, prepared by the Secretariat. It decided to ask national delegations and members of the Bureau to submit suggestions on the content of the programme before 15 July 2013 and, meanwhile, to defer the decision on constituting an ad hoc committee of the Bureau to participate in the 2013 World Forum for Democracy to the next meeting of the Bureau.
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau took note of the suggestions from national delegations and members of the Bureau on the content of the draft programme of the Forum, held an exchange of views with Snejana Samardzic-Markovic, Director General for Democracy of the Council of Europe, and decided to constitute an ad hoc committee of the Bureau to participate in the Forum, to be composed of members proposed by all Assembly’s committees before the Bureau meeting on 4 October 2013 (see chapter 3.1).
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau took note of an information memorandum prepared by the Secretariat regarding co-operation between the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe during the period from January to June 2013.
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau took note that the three candidates shortlisted by the Selection Panel of the Prize at its meeting in Prague on 26 August 2013 were (in alphabetical order): Mr Ales Bialiatski (Belarus), the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (Georgia) and the Rights Defence Network (China).
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau invited its members to submit names of potential candidates for the 2013 North-South Prize.
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau approved a declaration, which was published in the framework of the International Day of Democracy (see Appendix 1).
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau approved statements on the situation in Egypt and Syria (see Appendices 2 and 3 respectively).
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau drew up the list of candidates for the CPT in respect of Austria, Denmark, Republic of Moldova, Norway and Ukraine, which it forwarded to the Committee of Ministers.
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau appointed Mr Brynjar Nielsson (Iceland, EDG) and Mr Luc Recordon (Switzerland, SOC), on the basis of proposals submitted by the European Democratic Group and the Socialist Group respectively, subsequently ratified by the Assembly.
On 28 June 2013, the Bureau appointed Mr Konstantinos Triantafyllos (Greece, SOC), on the basis of a proposal submitted by the Socialist Group, subsequently ratified by the Assembly.
During the reference period, the Bureau authorised the following meetings:
The following members were appointed during the reference period:
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau approved the dates for meetings in 2014 (see Appendix 4).
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau decided to constitute an ad hoc committee of the Bureau to participate in the Forum, to be composed of members proposed by all Assembly’s committees before the Bureau meeting on 4 October 2013.
On 2 September 2013, the Bureau approved the following references, subject to ratification by the Assembly:
On 2 September 2013, it appointed Mr Jonas Gunnarson (Sweden, SOC), on the basis of a proposal submitted by the Socialist Group, subject to ratification by the Assembly.
The Assembly is invited to ratify these Bureau decisions.
Statement by the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Today many voices continue to be raised in alarm claiming that the world is not only facing a financial and economic crisis but that citizens’ trust in democratic institutions is also in crisis, as evidenced by voter fatigue and a decline in the public image of politicians. Populist, radical or xenophobic political movements, protest votes and the emergence of hate speech are gaining ground. The increasing importance of supranational decision-making organisations such as WTO, EU, IMF, etc... reinforces the feeling of powerlessness of political institutions, in the context of an increasingly globalised economy, whereas democratic legitimacy remains at national level. Extremist parties grow in influence by providing populist, but easy to understand responses, based on a closure of borders, in the face of a complex reality and an uncertain future. Furthermore, democracy today is in a process of transformation, as it grapples with the new realities of a post-modern era where political parties are no longer the only vehicles for citizens’ participation in political life. Social networks and civil society highlight new emerging challenges.
In this regard, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe welcomes the 2013 Day of Democracy’s focus on strengthening voices for democracy. It urges national parliaments to adapt to societal and technological developments and improve communication channels with the public. Through Internet, social networks, parliamentary television channels and/or civil society associations, parliaments can improve contact with the younger generations. Parliaments should also promote new ways for the people to express their views, beyond the traditional forms of mandate and delegation: the setting up of participatory and deliberative processes and structures, transnational networks formed by citizens to address specific issues, citizenship education and political training can be useful tools. Improving the transparency of rules of financing political parties and campaigns and bringing corrupt politicians and officials to justice would restore public trust in parliaments. A greater inclusion of women, youth and minorities would reinforce their representativeness and credibility.
The Parliamentary Assembly firmly believes that the Council of Europe is in a unique position to bridge the confidence gap and bring together elected politicians with civil society leaders. Together, they could better find ways to enable representative democracy face current societal and technological challenges, such as those raised by the social media. In this context, it wishes to highlight particularly the forthcoming World Forum for Democracy organised by the Council of Europe which is this year entitled “Re-wiring Democracy: connecting institutions and citizens in the digital age” (Strasbourg, 27-29 November 2013). The Forum will provide a timely platform for a genuine, inclusive dialogue on change and the future of democracy and help to shape future action by the Organisation, its institutions and member States.
Strasbourg, 02.09.2013 – The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting today in Dubrovnik (Croatia), called for an inclusive reconciliation process and political dialogue in Egypt which would prevent any further recourse to violence, allow a return to stability and create conditions for the organisation of free and fair elections as soon as possible. A military intervention is not a solution for democratic deficits. The interim authorities should implement without delay a roadmap for the normalisation of the political climate in the country and for the restoration of democratic rule in Egypt.
Shocked by the number of deaths caused by the intervention of the police in dispersing pro-Morsi gatherings, but also concerned about acts of violence committed by demonstrators, including attacks against religious minorities’ places of worship, the Bureau called for an independent investigation into the killings and all acts of violence, whoever has committed them.
The Assembly, through its Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, is following closely the situation in Egypt. The Committee will hold a hearing on Egypt at its meeting on 4 September 2013 in Paris.
Strasbourg, 02.09.2013 - The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting today in Dubrovnik (Croatia), condemned the apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria which, on 21 August 2013, caused the death of hundreds of people, including a large number of children. Any use of chemical weapons anywhere by anybody, under any circumstances, constitutes a violation of international law and a crime against humanity. The Bureau calls on the international community to take action to pressurise those countries which have not yet done so to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. It also calls for urgent action to bring the stocks of chemical weapons in Syria under international control to prevent access to them by those supporting or opposing the current Government.
The Bureau recalls that in its Resolutions 1878 (2012) on the situation in Syria and 1902 (2012) on the European response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Assembly urged a political solution to the conflict in Syria. Today, more than a year and a half later, the escalation of violence makes the need for a diplomatic process more urgent than ever. All parties concerned, both inside and outside the country, should, without further delay, move beyond their differences towards a peace conference on Syria. The use of arms can never lead to sustainable peace and is therefore not an option; only a political solution can put an end to the spiral of violence, but also to the dramatic situation of refugees and displaced persons.
The Bureau of the Assembly is particularly appalled by the huge number of refugees, especially of children, forced to flee Syria which, according to UN estimates, has reached one million. It urges once more the provision of unhindered humanitarian assistance to the wounded, refugees, displaced persons and all those in need both in Syria and in the neighbouring countries.
Monday 27 January, 8.00 am Strasbourg (part-session), Bureau
Friday 31 January, 8.30 am Strasbourg (part-session), Bureau
Thursday 6 March, 3.00 pm, Paris, Bureau
Friday 7 March, 9.00 am, Paris (to be confirmed), Standing Committee
Monday 7 April, 8.00 am, Strasbourg (part-session), Bureau
Friday 11 April, 8.30 am, Strasbourg (part-session), Bureau
Thursday 22 May, Baku, Azerbaijan, Bureau
Friday 23 May, Baku, Azerbaijan, Standing Committee
Monday 23 June, 8.00 am, Strasbourg (part-session), Bureau
Friday 27 June, 8.30 am, Strasbourg (part-session), Bureau
Monday 1 September, 9.30 am, Paris, Bureau
Monday 29 September, 8.00 am, Strasbourg (part-session), Bureau
Friday 3 October, 8.30 am, Strasbourg (part-session), Bureau
November, Brussels, Belgium (date to be confirmed), Bureau and Standing Committee
Monday 15 December, 9.30 am, Paris, Bureau