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Rules Committee proposes to strengthen PACE's decision-making process on credentials and voting

In order to "strengthen the coherence, legitimacy and effectiveness of its decision-making mechanisms", the Committee on Rules of Procedure today proposed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to amend certain provisions of its Rules of Procedure concerning the credentials of national delegations and voting conditions.

The draft resolution adopted today, based on the report prepared by Petra de Sutter (Belgium, SOC), proposes that the credentials of a national delegation as a whole may be challenged on substantive grounds at the opening of an ordinary session "on the basis of a request submitted by at least one sixth of the members of the Assembly, present in the Chamber, belonging to at least five national delegations".

If the challenge is made during an ordinary session, it must be based on "a motion for a resolution tabled by at least one sixth of the members of the Assembly, belonging to at least five national delegations, distributed at least one week prior to the opening of a part-session".

At present, a procedure for challenging still unratified credentials must be initiated by at least thirty members of the Assembly present in the Chamber, belonging to at least five national delegations, and a procedure to annul previously ratified credentials requires the prior tabling of a motion for a resolution signed by at least fifty members, belonging to at least two political groups and five national delegations.

As at present, the Monitoring Committee may initiate either of these procedures, on the basis of a report.

As regards the voting conditions, the Committee proposes that the majority required for the adoption of an Assembly decision on the challenge or reconsideration of the credentials of a national delegation be fixed at two-thirds of the votes cast, with the requisite quorum. At present, a majority of the votes cast is sufficient for such a decision to be adopted.

Mrs de Sutter's report follows an internal reflection process this past year on the Assembly's "role and mission" for which national delegations, political groups and members were invited to submit ideas and proposals to an ad hoc committee set up for this purpose.

The committee wished to point out that the Assembly's Rules of Procedure should not be changed “in an attempt to resolve a purely political problem”. Revising rules and procedures, the committee stressed, is only justified where "it helps to make the Assembly more robust" in order to better uphold the fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

At the end of the plenary debate, scheduled for 9 October in Strasbourg, the Assembly must adopt the draft resolution presented by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, in accordance with Article 29 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, which places the Assembly under an obligation to approve by a two-thirds majority any amendment of provisions of the Rules of Procedure determining what majority is required for the voting of a decision.