European Union and Council of Europe Human Rights Agendas: Synergies not Duplication!
Reply to Recommendation
| Doc. 13432
| 26 February 2014
- Committee of Ministers
at the 1192nd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (19-21 February
2014). 2014 - Second part-session
- Reply to Recommendation
- : Recommendation 2027
1. The Committee of Ministers has given
careful consideration to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 2027
(2013) concerning co-operation with the European Union. The Committee
recalls that it conducts a yearly review of this co-operation, which
figures regularly on the agenda of its Ministerial Sessions. Thus,
in May 2013, it took note with appreciation of the development of
the co operation based on the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding between
the Council of Europe and the European Union, which recognises the
Council of Europe as the benchmark for human rights, the rule of
law and democracy in Europe. The 2007 Memorandum remains a sound
basis to guide and structure the strategic, values-based partnership between
the Council of Europe and the European Union.
2. The Committee of Ministers also recalls that the protection
and promotion of human rights is a common objective of the Council
of Europe and the European Union. Therefore it welcomes the European
Union’s efforts to strengthen its capacity to contribute to the
protection of human rights and the rule of law, whilst stressing
the need to avoid duplication and ensure coherence and complementarity
between its protection system and that of the Council of Europe.
The establishment of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
(FRA) and the appointment of a Special Representative for Human
Rights should be viewed from this perspective. Indeed, very good
co-operation has developed between the Council of Europe and the
FRA in various areas on the basis of their respective mandates,
strengths and skills. Both parties agree that the 2008 Agreement
between the European Union and the Council of Europe remains a valid
basis for co-operation between the FRA and the Council of Europe.
Useful contacts have also been established between the Council of
Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant European Union
institutions, notably the European Union Special Representative
for Human Rights. Contacts have also increased with a view to furthering coherence
between Council of Europe standards and European Union legislation,
as well as synergies between the European Union and Council of Europe
monitoring bodies. In this regard, the Committee of Ministers continues
to attach particular importance to the swift accession of the European
Union to the European Convention on Human Rights. It considers that
the accession of the European Union will further enhance the coherence
in the protection of human rights across the continent for the benefit
of all Europeans.
3. The Committee of Ministers further recalls that the strengthening
of the partnership between the Council of Europe and the European
Union is an essential part of the reform process of the Organisation,
which aims notably at reinforcing its role as the benchmark for
human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Europe.
4. With regard specifically to the recent proposals for an European
Union framework to strengthen compliance of European Union member
States with rule of law standards, the Committee of Ministers fully supports
the efforts deployed by the Secretary General, who has intensified
his political consultations with the European Union institutions,
emphasising in particular the message that a possible future European
Union framework should take into account the instruments and expertise
of the Council of Europe and co-operate closely with it.
5. In the absence of detailed information about the contents
and implications of such possible future European Union framework,
the Committee of Ministers considers it premature to perceive these
initiatives as undermining the role of the Council of Europe or
of the Convention system in the pan-European human rights architecture.
Dialogue between the Council of Europe and the European Union in
this respect should lead to synergies in full respect of the principles
set out in the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding, where it is stated, inter
alia, that the European Union “regards the Council of Europe as
the Europe-wide reference source for human rights”, and that “while
preparing new initiatives in this field, the Council of Europe and
the European Union institutions will draw on their respective expertise
as appropriate through consultations”.
6. The Committee of Ministers also highlights the essential contribution
made by the European Union to a number of Council of Europe initiatives,
and welcomes measures taken by the European Union to foster the participation
of member and non-member States of the European Union in the conventions
of the Council of Europe.
7. As regards the invitations addressed by the Assembly to the
European Union, the Committee of Ministers recalls that these questions
are regularly addressed with relevant European Union representatives, both
in the context of the regular high-level political dialogue and
at operational level.
8. In conclusion, the Committee of Ministers reaffirms its strong
commitment to the strengthening of the human rights protection system
in Europe, of which the European Convention on Human Rights is the cornerstone.
It will continue to follow closely the issues raised by the Assembly,
including in the framework of its regular review of the co-operation
with the European Union.