Er is heel wat gaande op internationaal vlak. De geopolitieke evenwichten verschuiven, en ook de rol van hét mensenrechtenorgaan – de Raad van Europa – wordt door sommige conservatieve krachten aangevallen.

Dit kunnen we niet laten gebeuren. Daarom kwam ik in naam van mijn politieke fractie op voor meer samenwerking tussen álle 47 landen van de Raad van Europa, dus ook met Rusland.

Bovendien moeten de banden met de EU versterkt worden. Hiervoor is het van cruciaal belang dat de EU het mensenrechtenverdrag én het Sociaal Charter tekent, ook al is de EU zelf geen lid van de Raad van Europa, maar haar lidstaten wel.


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Ms DE SUTTER (Belgium, spokesperson for the Socialist Group) – The two reports are very timely and important, given what is happening to Europe and our own institution. Various internal and external events are threatening the integrity of Europe and of this Organisation, and it is high time that we go back to and revise the fundamental values we all share. As Robert Schuman said 67 years ago, only a united Europe can save us from war. Those words are, unfortunately, very topical again, as we observe what is going on today.

      We need to acknowledge and discuss the acquis of the Council of Europe and strengthen the instruments we dispose, as discussed in Mr Kox’s report. We also urgently need the summit proposed by Mr Nicoletti’s report. Both reports are excellent and deserve our full support.

      I want to make two points. First, Europe is about values, and the conventions of the Council of Europe are unique instruments to defend and strengthen those values. On the other hand, we need to regain the trust of citizens, whom it is all about. Our work is to defend their rights. The discussion should not be about us politicians, but about our citizens. Only if they are convinced that our institutions defend their rights will trust in a united Europe be restored and will this Europe have a future. Citizens therefore need to be consulted and participate much more directly than at present.

      Secondly, collaboration between different institutions in different parts of Europe must be strengthened. The Council of Europe’s role is different from that of the European Union and work should not be duplicated in the domains of human rights, rule of law and democracy. If the EU develops a Pillar of Social Rights, that should be done in accordance with the European Social Charter. The EU should adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights as soon as possible and be enabled to sign up to the European Social Charter. The Council of Europe needs to reclaim its unique mandate in its core domains, and that should be acknowledged by the EU, with good collaboration and understanding.

      Finally, within our own institution, dialogue and collaboration between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers should be strengthened in mutual respect, but in full acknowledgement of the independence, principles and role of the Parliamentary Assembly. We represent European citizens. This summit should be about the question of where the whole of Europe – I stress that it is about the whole of Europe – is going in the future. It is about our “vivre ensemble” – living together in solidarity and peace for the security of our citizens and their children and grandchildren.