Tiny Kox (Netherlands, UEL), rapporteur for the Political Affairs Committee on the Role and mission of the Assembly: main challenges for the future, held a number of meetings in Brussels on 4 April with representatives of EU institutions and in particular with the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, to discuss relations between the Assembly and the European Union in the context of the preparation of his report.
“The promotion of EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights is and should remain at the forefront of the Assembly’s political dialogue with the EU,” said Mr Kox, “as this will lead to a common legal space for human rights protection across the continent, in the interest of all people in Europe.” He thanked President Juncker for his personal commitment, and for having reinvigorated work in this area, and expressed hope that the Commission, still under his presidency, would submit to the Council of the European Union consolidated proposals in reply to the legal issues raised by the Luxembourg Court Opinion in 2014. President Juncker confirmed that EU accession to the ECHR was not only a long-standing legal obligation under the Lisbon Treaty but also had important geopolitical consequences that should not be underestimated.
Recalling the report he had presented in 2006 in his capacity as then Prime Minister of Luxembourg, on “Council of Europe-European Union – A sole ambition for Europe”, President Juncker said that he valued very much the contribution of the Council of Europe in the Commission’s recent initiatives to address rule of law developments in some EU member States and agreed to consider ways for the EU to support such Council of Europe work. In this respect, Mr Kox welcomed the Communication on the Rule of Law, published by the European Commission on 3 April, as it included several references to the Council of Europe and opened up the way for all relevant stakeholders, including primarily the Council of Europe, to come up with concrete proposals on how to enhance the EU rule of law toolbox.
Discussing the Organisation’s role in the overall European architecture, Mr Kox said that, in a Europe of concentric circles, it was necessary to ensure coherence of standards and political dialogue at the highest possible level among the various circles. President Juncker underlined that the Council of Europe was and should remain the place where all European nations can meet.
Mr Kox also discussed the need to step up dialogue and co-operation between the two organisations with Marja Rislakki, Permanent Representative of Finland, the country currently chairing the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, which will assume the next presidency of the Council of the European Union. He also met representatives of the European External Action Service and the Legal Services of both the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, with whom he also discussed EU accession to other Council of Europe conventions, in particular the Istanbul Convention and the convention on data protection, as well as possible EU participation in GRECO.
Mr Kox’s report on on the Role and mission of the Assembly: main challenges for the future will be adopted by the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy next week.