Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has sought to “calibrate” human rights and democracy priorities between the 28-nation EU and the 47-nation Council of Europe during a series of meetings in Brussels with new EU leaders, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU’s Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini, and European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
“In our meetings we discussed some of the main challenges in relation to human rights and democracy on our continent, and agreed that they are not limited to east, west, north or south. The evolving conflict involving Ukraine and Russia affects not just the people in the region, but the whole of Europe. It is particularly important that both the EU and the Council of Europe have co-ordinated positions in order to send clear messages and find appropriate solutions.”
The President also highlighted some of the Parliamentary Assembly’s other major concerns, including the worsening situation of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan and the rise of extremist movements across Europe.
“I am delighted that Mr Juncker has accepted my invitation for him to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at its January 2015 part-session. This exchange with parliamentarians from the 47 member states of the Council of Europe will allow us to develop further co-operation with the EU on democracy and human rights issues in these difficult times,” said the President.
Ms Brasseur also met Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, to explore ways of expanding and improving co-ordination and co-operation between the two parliamentary bodies of the EU and the Council of Europe and their political groups.
“Our concerns are very much shared, whether in terms of the challenges faced by growing extremism, or dealing with the crisis in Russia and Ukraine. Not only were we able to discuss the political challenge of Russia in the context of the European Parliament and PACE, but we talked about how to bring the leaders of political groups closer together,” the President concluded.
The Assembly will debate a report on relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union during its January 2015 session.