Курсовая: Council of Europe
A Brief History of the Council of Europe
The Europe that awoke in the days following the Liberation was
in a sorry state, torn apart by five years of war. States were determined to
build up their shattered economies, recover their influence and, above all,
ensure that such a tragedy could never happen again. Winston Churchill was the
first to point to the solution, in his speech of 19 September 1946 in Zurich.
According to him, what was needed was "a remedy which, as if by miracle, would
transform the whole scene and in a few years make all Europe as free and happy
as Switzerland is today. We must build a kind of United States of Europe".
Movements of various persuasions, but all dedicated to European unity, were
springing up everywhere at the time. All these organisations were to combine
to form the International Committee of the Movements for European Unity. Its
first act was to organise the Hague Congress, on 7 May 1948, remembered as
"The Congress of Europe".
A thousand delegates at The Hague
More than a thousand delegates from some twenty countries,
together with a large number of observers, among them political and religious
figures, academics, writers and journalists, attended the Congress. Its purpose
was to demonstrate the breadth of the movements in favour of European
unification, and to determine the objectives which must be met in order to
achieve such a union.
A series of resolutions was adopted at the end of the Congress, calling,
amongst other things, for the creation of an economic and political union to
guarantee security, economic independence and social progress, the
establishment of a consultative assembly elected by national parliaments, the
drafting of a European charter of human rights and the setting up of a court
to enforce its decisions. All the themes around which Europe was to be built
were already sketched out in this initial project. The Congress also revealed
the divergences which were soon to divide unconditional supporters of a
European federation (France and Belgium) from those who favoured simple
inter-governmental co-operation, such as Great Britain, Ireland and the
On the international scene, the sharp East-West tensions marked
by the Prague coup and the Berlin blockade were to impart a sense of urgency to
the need to take action and devote serious thought to a genuine inter-state
association. Two months after the Congress of Europe, Georges Bidault, the
French Minister for Foreign Affairs, issued an invitation to his Brussels
Treaty partners, the United Kingdom and the Benelux countries, and to all those
who wished to give substance to The Hague proposals. Robert Schuman, who
replaced him a few days later, confirmed the invitation. France, supported by
Belgium, in the person of its Prime Minister Paul Henri Spaak, called for the
creation of a European Assembly, with wide-ranging powers, composed of members
of parliament from the various states and deciding by a majority vote. This
plan, assigning a fundamental role to the Assembly seemed quite revolutionary
in an international order hitherto the exclusive preserve of governments. But
Great Britain, which favoured a form of intergovernmental co-operation in which
the Assembly would have a purely consultative function, rejected this approach.
It only softened its stance after lengthy negotiations. Finally, on 27 and 28
January 1949 the five ministers for foreign affairs of the Brussels Treaty
countries, meeting in the Belgian capital, reached a compromise: a Council of
Europe consisting of a ministerial committee, to meet in private; and a
consultative body, to meet in public. In order to satisfy the supporters of
co-operation the Assembly was purely consultative in nature, with decision-
making powers vested in the Committee of Ministers. In order to meet the
demands of those partisans of a Europe-wide federation, members of the
Assembly were independent of their governments, with full voting freedom. The
United Kingdom demanded that they be appointed by their governments. This
important aspect of the compromise was soon to be reviewed and, from 1951
onwards, parliaments alone were to choose their representatives.
"Greater" and "Smaller" Europe
On 5 May 1949, in St James's Palace, London, the treaty
constituting the Statute of the Council of Europe was signed by ten countries:
Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom,
accompanied by Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Council of
Europe was now able to start work. Its first sessions were held in Strasbourg,
which was to become its permanent seat. In the initial flush of enthusiasm, the
first major convention was drawn up: the European Convention on Human Rights,
signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and coming into force on 3 September 1953.
The new organisation satisfied a very wide range of public opinion, which saw
in it an instrument through which the various political tendencies, and the
essential aspirations of the peoples of Europe, could be expressed. This was
indeed the purpose for which it was founded, as clearly stated in Chapter I
of its Statute: "The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater
unity between its Members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the
ideals and principles which are their common heritage, and facilitating their
economic and social progress."
In order to achieve its objectives, certain means were made available to the
Council and were listed in the Statute, which specified that: "This aim shall
be pursued through the organs of the Council by discussion of questions of
common concern and by agreements and common action in economic, social,
cultural, scientific, legal and administrative matters and in the maintenance
and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms." In
accordance with the compromise reached, the Statute made no mention of
drawing up a constitution, or of pooling national sovereignty, in order to
achieve the "economic and political union" called for by The Hague delegates.
Consequently, the need was soon felt to set up separate bodies to address the
urgent questions arising on the political and economic fronts. Shortly after
the accession of the Federal Republic of Germany, Robert Schuman approached
all the Council of Europe countries with a proposal for a European Coal and
Steel Community, to be provided with very different political and budgetary
The six countries most attached to the ideal of integration - Belgium,
France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of
Germany - joined, and on 9 May 1951 signed the very first Community treaty.
Strengthened by the experience and commitment which had brought the "Greater
Europe" into existence, the "Smaller Europe" was now making its own "leap
into the unknown" of European construction.
In the years between 1949 and 1970, eight new countries joined
the founder members: in order of accession Greece, Iceland, Turkey, Germany,
Austria, Cyprus, Switzerland and Malta. In this period, the organisation
gradually developed its structure and its major institutions. Thus, the first
public hearing of the European Court of Human Rights took place in 1960. These
years also saw the introduction of the first specialized ministerial
conferences; by the early 1970s they had been extended to cover a wide range of
areas. The first, in 1959, brought together European ministers responsible for
social and family affairs. On 18 October 1961, the European Social Charter was
signed in Rome: a text which the Council sees as the counterpart of the
European Convention on Human Rights in the social domain.
The Charter came into force on 26 February 1965. It sets out 19 rights,
including the right to strike and the right to social protection, but does
not have such effective machinery as the Human Rights Convention.
Nevertheless, it is gradually developing into a common body of social rights
that apply right across Europe.
The same era saw the institution of the Council for Cultural Co-operation in
1961, which non-Council of Europe member states were allowed to join from the
outset. One example was Finland, which only joined the Council itself 28
years later. Similarly, the European Pharmacopoeia was founded in 1964 and
the European Youth Centre in 1967.
Crises strengthen democracy
The Council of Europe's first major political crisis came in
1967 when the Greek colonels overthrew the legally elected government and
installed an authoritarian regime which openly contravened the democratic
principles defended by the organisation. On 12 December 1969, just a few hours
before a decision would have been taken to exclude Greece, the colonels' regime
anticipated matters by denouncing the European Convention on Human Rights and
withdrawing from the Council of Europe. It did not return until five years
later, on 28 November 1974 after the fall of the dictatorship and the
restoration of democracy. In the meantime, the Cypriot crisis, which broke out
in the summer of 1974 and culminated in the partitioning of the island after
Turkish military intervention, represented a fairly negative experience for the
Council of Europe, whose discreet efforts to broker a solution, alongside those
of the United Nations' Secretary General, were not crowned with success.
A new crisis arose in 1981 when the Parliamentary Assembly withdrew the Turkish
parliamentary delegation's right to their seats in response to the military
coup d'état a few weeks earlier. The Turkish delegation only resumed its
place in 1984 after the holding of free elections.
Greece's return marked the disappearance of the last authoritarian regime in
western Europe. Portugal had made its Council of Europe debut on 22 September
1976, two years after its peaceful revolution of April 1974, bringing an end
to 48 years of Salazarist dictatorship, while the death of General Franco in
1975 eventually led to Spain's accession on 24 November 1977.
The Council of Europe's permanent role on the European political and
institutional scene was sealed on 28 January 1977 with its move from its
provisional premises to the Palais de l'Europe, designed by the French
Liechtenstein's accession on 23 November 1978, San Marino's on 16 November
1988 and Finland's on 5 May 1989 more or less completed the absorption of
west European states while the Council of Europe was already laying the
foundations for a rapprochement with the countries of central and eastern
A further, critical stage in the Council of Europe's life started in 1985
with the first movements to introduce democracy to central and eastern
Europe. In January of that year Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Chairman of the
Committee of Ministers, invited his colleagues to take part in an
extraordinary session devoted entirely to East-West relations. This process
of reflection, that took account of the trend emerging in Eastern Europe - in
Romania and Poland, and in the Soviet Union, where Mikhail Gorbachov had just
come to power - gave rise to the notion of a European cultural identity,
which became the subject of a resolution in April 1985. Convinced that unity
in diversity was the basis of the wealth of Europe's heritage, the Council of
Europe noted that their common tradition and European identity did not stop
at the boundaries between the various political systems; it stressed, in the
light of the CSCE Final Act, the advantage of consolidating cultural co-
operation as a means of promoting a lasting understanding between peoples and
between governments. The Eastern European countries grasped this outstretched
hand with enthusiasm.
Rapprochement had at last become not only possible but necessary. The
Council of Europe was naturally delighted by the process of democratisation set
in motion in the East, together with the economic and social reforms introduced
in the name of perestroika. It was the Council's role and purpose to support
this trend, to help make it irreversible, and to fulfil the expectations of the
countries calling upon it for assistance. Not of course by renouncing its
principles but, on the contrary, by making them a precondition for any form of
This became the Council of Europe's guiding principle, as
reflected in the Committee of Ministers' change of course set out in its
declaration of 5 May 1989. The new direction represented both an achievement
and a first step, and was the outcome of a number of exchanges (the Secretary
General's visit to Hungary, then Poland; the visits by the President of the
Parliamentary Assembly to Budapest and Warsaw, and the visits to Strasbourg of
delegations and experts from the USSR and other East European countries). This
new departure gave momentum to a process that was to continue to accelerate,
exceeding even the most optimistic expectations.
Eastern European countries were now knocking impatiently at the door of the
Council of Europe, that guardian of human rights; the organisation became a
kind of antechamber for negotiating the transition from dictatorship and
democracy, as had previously been the case with Portugal and Spain.
It is no coincidence that the first address by a Soviet leader to an assembly
of Western European parliamentarians should have taken place at the Council
of Europe. Mikhail Gorbachov chose this particular chamber - on 6 July 1989 -
to put forward a new disarmament proposal (unilateral reduction of short-
range nuclear missiles), to promote the idea of a Common European Home (non-
use of force, renunciation of the Brezhnev doctrine and maintenance of
socialism), and to discuss human rights (albeit without referring to the
The Council of Europe started to open its gates very carefully. In 1989, the
Parliamentary Assembly established the very selective special guest status
for the national assemblies of countries willing to apply the Helsinki final
act and the United Nations Covenant on Human Rights. The status was
immediately granted to the assemblies of Hungary, Poland, USSR and Yugoslavia
and opened the way to the full accession of the former Soviet bloc countries.
Four months after Mikhail Gorbachov's address the Berlin wall fall on 9
September 1989. This provided the opportunity for the Council of Europe's
Secretary General to state, on 23 November, that the Council was the only
organisation capable of encompassing all the countries of Europe, once they
had adopted democratic rules. This marked the start of the organisation's new
From the fall of the Berlin wall to the Vienna summit
Referring to his country's accession to the Council of Europe
on 6 November 1990, the Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs said that the
event marked the first step in the re-establishment of the unity of the
Special programmes were rapidly introduced to meet the most pressing needs
and allow the new European partners, both before and after their accession,
to draw on a shared fund of knowledge and experience to enable them to
complete their democratic transition. These programmes were dubbed
Demosthenes, Themis and Lode and focused on the key areas of reform: how to
design new constitutions, bring domestic legislation into line with the
European Convention on Human Rights, reorganise the civil service, establish
an independent judiciary and an independent media, encourage local democracy.
In other words, how to become a full member of the European democratic and
On 4 May 1992, François Mitterrand addressed the Parliamentary Assembly
in a session largely devoted to integrating the countries of central and
eastern Europe in the building of a new Europe. Why, he asked, should all the
heads of state and government of the Council of Europe's member countries not
meet every two years, alternating with meetings of the CSCE? The proposal was
adopted at least in part and Austria, which chaired the Committee of Ministers
between May and November 1993, offered to organise and host the summit.
The summit was held in Vienna on 8 and 9 October 1993 and confirmed and
extended the policy of opening up and enlargement. It also identified three
priorities, starting with the reforme of the European Convention on Human
Rights machinery to make it more expeditious and effective. This is the
subject of the Convention's Protocol no 11. The Vienna summit also laid great
emphasis on the protection of national minorities, which was to lead to the
adoption of a framework convention less than two years later, and combating
Thus with its new-found role of offering a home to all the countries of
Europe willing to opt for democracy, thereby establishing a continent-wide
democratic security area, the Council of Europe has used the years since
Vienna to develop and refine the undertakings which any applicant country for
membership must be willing to accept.
The Council of Europe in an enlarged Europe
The arrival of the Russian Federation in February 1996 meant
that the institution had finally become fully pan-European. Henceforth, more
than 700 million citizens would be concerned in building the new Europe. The
Council's activities are now having to adapt to an environment that is not only
wider and more diverse but also more complex and less stable. This is changing
the nature of its co-operation programmes.
Support and monitoring activities are being strengthened. More attention is
being paid to what happens on the ground, for example via confidence measures
or campaigns to combat intolerance. New priorities are emerging such as
migration, corruption, the right to be granted nationality, social exclusion
and minorities. The dual machinery for protecting human rights will be
replaced on 1 Novembre 1998 by a single Court, housed in the Human Rights
Building designed by the British architect Richard Rogers and inaugurated in
At the same time several other European or North Atlantic institutions have
been increasing their co-operation with the countries of central and eastern
Europe, offering the prospect of closer integration. The work under the
auspices of the intergovernmental conference of the European Union and NATO
summit held in Madrid, show that European co-operation will continue to
As it approaches its fiftieth anniversary, the Council of Europe, with its 41
members, will also be required to clarify how it sees its future role as a
focus for democratic security and the proponent of a European model of
society. A second summit was held for this purpose on 10 and 11 October 1997.
The Strasbourg Summit, held at the Council of Europe headquarters and hosted
by the French Presidency, gave the 40 Heads of State and Government an
opportunity to assess the positive contribution which the Council had made to
stability in Europe by admitting new countries, running programmes to help
them make the transition to democracy and monitoring all its members'
compliance with their obligations. The Summit adopted a Final Declaration and
an Action Plan, fixing the Organisation's priorities in the years ahead, and
gave reform of its structures the green light.
How the Council of Europe works
The Council of Europe comprises:
· a decision making body: the Committee of Ministers
· a deliberative body: the Parliamentary Assembly
· a voice for local democracy: the Congress of Local and Regional
Authorities of Europe
Each of these three bodies, whose function is briefly described below, has
its own Internet site.
In exceptional circumstances, political impetus for the organisation may come
from a summit of its member countries' heads of state and government. This
occurred with the Vienna summit in 1993 and the Strasbourg Summit in 1997.
The various bodies are assisted by an International Secretariat of some 1500
officials from all the member countries. They are headed by a Secretary
General whose is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly for a five year term.
· The Committee of Ministers
The Committee of Ministers is the decision-making body of the Council of
Europe. It directly represents the governments of the member States.
It is composed of the Minister for foreign affairs of each member State. The
Minister may be represented by an alternate who is either a member of
government or a senior diplomat.
The chairmanship of the Committee changes with each six-month session, in the
English alphabetical order of the member States.
The Committee meets twice a year at ministerial level, once in April or May
and again in November. The day-to-day work of the Committee is conducted by
the Ministers' Deputies. Each minister appoints a Deputy, who usually also
acts as the Permanent Representative of the member State.
The Ministers' Deputies meet in plenary two to three times a month. Their
decisions have the same authority as the Committee of Ministers.
The conduct of meetings of the Ministers and their Deputies is governed by
the Statute and rules of procedure.
The Deputies are assisted by a Bureau, Rapporteur Groups and ad hoc groups.
The Committee of Ministers performs a triple role:
- firstly as the emanation of the governments which enables them to express
on equal terms their national approaches to the problems confronting Europe's
- secondly as the collective forum where European responses to these
challenges are worked out;
- thirdly as guardian, alongside the Parliamentary Assembly, of the values
for which the Council of Europe exists; as such, it is vested with a
monitoring function in respect of the commitments accepted by the member
The work and activities of the Committee of Ministers include :
* political dialogue
* interacting with the Parliamentary Assembly
* interacting with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of
* follow-up to respect of commitments by member States
* admission of new member States
* concluding conventions and agreements
* adopting recommendations to member States
* adopting the budget
* adopting and monitoring the Intergovernmental Programme of Activities
* implementing cooperation and assistance programmes for central and
* supervising the execution of judgments of the European Convention on
Human Rights by the member States
* contributing to Conferences of Specialised Ministers
The Committee of Ministers is made up of the ministers for foreign affairs of
the 41 member states. It meets twice a year in ordinary sessions and may hold
special or informal meetings. Its Chair changes every six months according to
the member countries' alphabetical order.
The Ministers' Deputies meet at least once a month. They draw up the Council
of Europe's activities programme and adopt its budget, which today amounts to
some 1 300 million French francs. It also decides what follow-up should be
given to proposals of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities and the specialist ministerial conferences that the
Council of Europe regularly organises.
· The Parliamentary Assembly
The Parliamentary Assembly is the parliamentary organ of the Council of
Europe consisting of a number of individual representatives from each member
State, with a President elected each year from among them for a maximum
period of three sessions. The present President is Lord Russell-Johnston, a
British Liberal Democrat (LDR) member of the House of Lords.
Whilst in the Committee of Ministers each member state has one vote, in the
Parliamentary Assembly the number of representatives and consequently of
votes is determined by the size of the country. The biggest number is
eighteen, the smallest two. As there are an equal number of representatives
and substitutes, the total number of members of the Assembly is therefore
582, plus 15 special guests and 15 Observers.
They are appointed to the Parliamentary Assembly in a manner which is left to
be decided by each member state as long as they are elected within their
national or federal Parliament, or appointed from amongst the members of that
parliament. The balance of political parties within each national delegation
must ensure a fair representation of the political parties or groups in their
In order to develop a non-national European outlook, the formation of
political groups in the Parliamentary Assembly has been promoted and from
1964 onwards they were granted certain rights within the Rules of Procedure.
At present the Assembly counts five political groups: the Socialist Group
(SOC); the Group of the European People's Party (EPP/CD); the European
Democratic Group (EDG); the Liberal, Democratic and Reformers Group (LDR) and
the Group of the Unified European Left (UEL). Political Groups have to commit
themselves to respect the promotion of the values of the Council of Europe,
notably political pluralism, human rights and the rule of law. To form a
Group, at least twenty members of at least six different delegations have to
decide to do so. Members of the Assembly are entirely free to choose the
Group they wish to join. Before deciding they can attend meetings of one or
several groups and should not be bound by their national party label but
choose the group which best suits their political affinities. The President
of the Assembly and the Leaders of the Groups form the Ad hoc Committee of
Chairpersons of Political Groups.
The President, eighteen Vice-Presidents and the Chairpersons of the political
groups or their representatives make up the Bureau of the Assembly. The big
countries have a permanent seat in the Bureau; the smaller countries take
turns. The duties of the Bureau are manifold: preparation of the Assembly's
agenda, reference of documents to committees, arrangement of day-to-day
business, relations with other international bodies, authorisations for
meetings by Assembly committees, etc.
The Standing Committee
The Standing Committee consists of the Bureau, the Chairpersons of national
delegations and the Chairpersons of the general committees. It is generally
convened at least twice a year and its major task is to act on behalf of the
Assembly when the latter is not in session. Each year one of the Standing
Committee meetings, together with a number of other committees, takes place
normally in one of the member states.
The Joint Committee
The Joint Committee is the forum set up to co-ordinate the activities of, and
maintain good relations between, the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly.
It is composed of a representative of each member Government and a
corresponding number of representatives of the Assembly (the members of the
Bureau and one representative of each parliamentary delegation of member
States not represented on the Bureau).
The Secretariat of the Assembly
The secretariat of the Assembly is headed by Mr Bruno Haller, Secretary
General of the Assembly who is elected by it for a period of five years.
Its staff is divided into the Private Office of the President, the
Secretariat of the Bureau and the Joint Committee, the Table Office and
Inter-parliamentary Relations, the Administration and Finance Department and
the Political and Legal Affairs Department including a number of operational
Divisions to cover the work of the committees.
The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly is made up of 286
representatives and the same number of substitutes from the parliaments of
the member states. Each delegation's composition reflects that of its
parliament of origin.
The Parliamentary Assembly hold four plenary sessions a year. Its debates on
a wide range of social issues and its recommendations to the Committee of
Ministers have been at the root of many of the Council of Europe's
The Parliamentary Assembly has instituted a special guest status, which has
enabled it to play host to representatives of the parliaments of non-member
states in central and eastern Europe, paving the way to these countries'
The Assembly plays a key role in the accession process for new members and in
monitoring compliance with undertakings entered into.
· The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, like the
Parliamentary Assembly, has 286 representatives and 286 substitutes. It is
composed of two chambers, one representing local authorities and the other
regions. Its function is to strengthen democratic institutions at the local
level, and in particular to assist the new democracies.