Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

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126th session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Sofia, 2016

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (French: Comité des ministres du Conseil de l'Europe) or Committee of Ministers (French: Comité des ministres) is the Council of Europe's decision-making body. It comprises the Foreign Affairs Ministers of all the member states, or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg.[1] It is both a governmental body, where national approaches to problems facing European society can be discussed on an equal footing, as well as a collective forum, where Europe-wide responses to such challenges are formulated. In collaboration with the Parliamentary Assembly, it is the guardian of the Council's fundamental values; it monitors member states' compliance with their undertakings.

Members of the Committee of Ministers[edit]

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of each Council of Europe member state sits on the Committee of Ministers. In May 1951 the Committee of Ministers invited each member state to appoint a Permanent Representative who would be in constant touch with the organisation. All Permanent Representatives reside in Strasbourg. They are usually senior diplomats with ambassadorial rank, occasionally chargés d'affaires.

In 1952 the Committee of Ministers decided that each Minister could appoint a Deputy. The Ministers' Deputies have the same decision-making powers as the Ministers. A Deputy is usually also the Permanent Representative of the member state.

The second in rank in a delegation usually has the title "Deputy Permanent Representative", not to be confused with "Ministers' Deputy".

Current Chair of the Committee is highlighted, with the position being currently held by Simon Coveney from Ireland from May 2022 until November 2022.[2]

On 25th February, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s rights of representation were suspended, but it remained a member of the Council of Europe and party to the relevant Council of Europe conventions, including the European Convention on Human Rights.[3]

Member Minister Member Minister Member Minister
Albania

Republic of Albania
Shqipëria

Member since
13 July 1995
Olta Xhaçka (portret).jpg
Olta Xhaçka
Andorra

Principality of Andorra
Andorra

Member since
10 November 1994
Maria Ubach Font (32384849308) (cropped).jpg
Maria Ubach i Font
Armenia

Republic of Armenia
Հայաստան/Hayastan

Member since
25 January 2001

Armenian Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, Yerevan, 25 November 2019 (cropped).jpg
Ararat Mirzoyan
Austria

Republic of Austria
Österreich

Member since
16 April 1956

Alexander Schallenberg 12.10.2021 02.jpg
Alexander Schallenberg
Azerbaijan
Republic of Azerbaijan
Azərbaycan

Member since
25 January 2001
JeyhunBayramov.jpg
Jeyhun Bayramov
Belgium

Kingdom of Belgium
België/Belgique/Belgien[a 1]

Member since
5 May 1949
Hadja Lahbib (cropped).jpg
Hadja Lahbib
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosna i Hercegovina / Боснa и Херцеговина

Member since
24 April 2002
Bisera Turkovic (01119744) (cropped).jpg
Bisera Turković
Bulgaria

Republic of Bulgaria
България/Bǎlgariya

Member since
7 May 1992
Teodora Genchovska Croatia

Republic of Croatia
Hrvatska

Member since
6 November 1996
2019 Gordan Grlić Radman (48742779146) (cropped).jpg
Gordan Grlić-Radman
Cyprus

Republic of Cyprus
Κύπρος/Kýpros/Kıbrıs

Member since
24 May 1961
Иоаннис Касулидис.jpg
Ioannis Kasoulides
Czech Republic

Czech Republic
Česko

Member since
30 June 1993
Jan Lipavský 17 May 2019.jpg
Jan Lipavský
Denmark

Kingdom of Denmark
Danmark

Member since
5 May 1949
Jeppe Kofod July 22, 2020 (cropped).jpg
Jeppe Kofod
Estonia

Republic of Estonia
Eesti

Member since
14 May 1993
Urmas Reinsalu 2017-05-25 (cropped).jpg
Urmas Reinsalu
Finland

Republic of Finland
Suomi/Finland

Member since
13 February 2021
Pekka Haavisto 2017 03.jpg
Pekka Haavisto
France

French Republic
France

Member since
5 May 1949
Colonna Catherine (cropped).JPG
Catherine Colonna
Georgia (country)

Georgia
საქართველო/Sakartvelo

Member since
27 April 1999
Meeting of the President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili with the Foreign Minister Darchiashvili (cropped).jpg
Ilia Darchiashvili
Germany

Federal Republic of Germany
Deutschland

Member since
13 July 1950
Annalena Baerbock (2021) cropped.jpg
Annalena Baerbock
Greece

Hellenic Republic
Ελλάδα/Elláda

Member since
9 August 1949
NikosDendias.jpg
Nikos Dendias
Hungary

Hungary
Magyarország

Member since
6 November 1990
Péter Szijjártó (cropped).jpg
Péter Szijjártó
Iceland

Iceland
Ísland

Member since
7 March 1950
Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir.jpg
Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir
Republic of Ireland

Ireland
Éire/Ireland

Member since
5 May 1949
Simon Coveney 2018.jpg
Simon Coveney
Italy

Italian Republic
Italia

Member since
5 May 1949
Luigi Di Maio 2021 cropped.jpg
Luigi Di Maio
Latvia

Republic of Latvia
Latvija

Member since
10 February 1995
Edgars Rinkēvičs 2019 (cropped).jpg
Edgars Rinkēvičs
Liechtenstein

Principality of Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein

Member since
23 November 1978
Dominique Gantenbein 01.jpg
Dominique Hasler
Lithuania

Republic of Lithuania
Lietuva

Member since
14 May 1993

Ministras G. Landsbergis portretai (cropped).jpg
Gabrielius Landsbergis
Luxembourg

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Lëtzebuerg/Luxembourg/Luxemburg

Member since
5 May 1949
Informal meeting of ministers for foreign affairs (Gymnich). Arrivals Jean Asselborn (36927346612) CROPPED.jpg
Jean Asselborn
Malta

Republic of Malta
Malta

Member since
29 April 1965
Ian Borg (cropped).jpg
Ian Borg
Moldova

Republic of Moldova
Moldova

Member since
13 July 1995
Rick Perry and Nicu Popescu in September 2019 (cropped).jpg
Nicu Popescu
Monaco

Principalty of Monaco
Monaco

Member since
5 October 2004

Isabelle Berro-Lefèvre
Montenegro

Montenegro
Црна Гора/Crna Gora

Member since
11 May 2007
Ranko Krivokapić Senate of Poland.jpg
Ranko Krivokapić
Netherlands

Kingdom of the Netherlands
Nederland


Member since
5 May 1949

Wopke Hoekstra (2022) B (cropped).jpg
Wopke Hoekstra
North Macedonia

Republic of North Maecedonia
Северна Македонија/Severna Makedonija


Member since
9 November 1995

Bujar Osmani official portrait 2020 (cropped).jpg
Bujar Osmani
Norway

Kingdom of Norway
Norge/Noreg/Norga


Member since
5 May 1949

Anniken Huitfeldt, kulturminister Norge. Nordiska radets session 2010.jpg
Anniken Huitfeldt
Poland

Republic of Poland
Polska


Member since
26 November 1991

Zbigniew Rau.jpg
Zbigniew Rau
Portugal

Portuguese Republic
Portugal

Member since
22 September 1976
05 04 2018 - João Gomes Cravinho.jpg
João Gomes Cravinho
Romania

Romania
România

Member since
7 October 1993
Bogdan Aurescu (cropped).jpg
Bogdan Aurescu
San Marino

Republic of San Marino
San Marino


Member since
16 November 1988

Luca Beccari San Marino (cropped).jpg
Luca Beccari
Serbia

Republic of Serbia
Србија/Srbija


Member since
14 June 2006

Außenminister Alexander Schallenberg empfängt seinen serbischen Amtskollegen Nikola Selakovic 16.07.2021 05 (cropped).jpg
Nikola Selaković
Slovakia

Slovak Republic
Slovensko

Member since
30 June 1993
Ivan Korcok 2020 SK.jpg
Ivan Korčok
Slovenia

Republic of Slovenia
Slovenija

Member since
14 May 1993
Tanja Fajon - 52115201735 (cropped).jpg
Tanja Fajon
Spain

Kingdom of Spain
España

Member since
24 November 1977
José Manuel Albares 2021 (cropped).jpg
José Manuel Albares
Sweden

Kingdom of Sweden
Sverige

Member since
5 May 1949
Annlindecropped.jpg
Ann Linde
Switzerland

Swiss Confederation
Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera/Svizra

Member since
6 May 1963
Ignazio Cassis (2022).jpg
Ignazio Cassis
Turkey

Republic of Turkey
Türkiye

Member since
13 April 1950
Mevlut Cavusoglu portrait.jpg
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Ukraine

Ukraine
Україна/Ukrayina

Member since
9 November 1995
Дмитро Кулеба 1 (cropped).jpg
Dmytro Kuleba
United Kingdom

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Kingdom

Member since
5 May 1949
Official portrait of Rt Hon James Cleverly MP crop 2.jpg
James Cleverly

Meetings of the Committee of Ministers[edit]

The Committee meets at ministerial level once a year, in May or in November. The meetings, known as "sessions", are normally held in Strasbourg and usually last one full day or two half days. While the greater part of each session is usually devoted to political dialogue, the Ministers may discuss all matters of mutual interest with the exception of national defence. Although the records of the sessions are confidential, a final communiqué is issued at the end of each meeting. The Ministers may also issue one or more declarations.

"Meetings of the Ministers' Deputies" are usually held in the Committee of Ministers' meeting room once a week. The Deputies also meet several times a week in subsidiary groups.

The role of the Committee of Ministers[edit]

The Committee of Ministers performs a triple role; as the emanation of the governments which enables them to express on equal terms their national approaches to the problems confronting Europe's societies; as the collective forum where European responses to these challenges are worked out, alongside the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and as guardian of the values for which the Council of Europe exists.

The work and activities of the Committee of Ministers include political dialogue, developing public international law through Council of Europe conventions, interacting with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, interacting with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

Admitting new member States[edit]

The Committee of Ministers has the authority to invite European States to become members of the Council of Europe (Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the Statute). It may also suspend or terminate membership.

The process of admission begins when the Committee of Ministers, having received an official application for membership, consults the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (under Statutory Resolution (51) 30). The Assembly adopts an opinion which is published in the Assembly's texts adopted.

If the Committee decides that a state can be admitted, it adopts a resolution inviting that state to become a member. The invitation specifies the number of seats that the state will have in the Assembly as well as its contribution to the budget. Recently the invitations have included a number of conditions concerning the implementation of democratic reforms in the applicant state.

Once invited, a state becomes a member by depositing, normally by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, an instrument of accession with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

The only European states which are not members of the Council of Europe and thus could in principle be admitted are Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Vatican as well as Kosovo pending clarification of its international legal status. Once the European Union has attained full legal personality, it could also accede to the Council of Europe. So far, the European Community has only signed Council of Europe treaties.

Monitoring respect of commitments by member states[edit]

Concluding Conventions and agreements[edit]

Article 15.a of the Statute states that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe "shall consider the action required to further the aim of the Council of Europe, including the conclusion of conventions and agreements".

Over 190 treaties have now been opened for signature. The European Convention of Human Rights of 1950 is one of the best known Council of Europe treaties and the one with the strongest supervision mechanism by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the Committee of Ministers.

The text of any treaty is finalised when it is adopted by the Committee. Under Article 20 of the Statute adoption of a treaty requires:

  • a two-thirds majority of the representatives casting a vote;
  • a majority of those entitled to vote.

The same majorities are required to authorise the publication of any explanatory report. The Committee also fixes the date that the treaty will be opened for signature. Conventions are legally binding for those States which ratify them.

Adopting recommendations to member states[edit]

Article 15.b of the Statute provides for the Committee of Ministers to make recommendations to member states on matters for which the Committee has agreed "a common policy".

Under Article 20 of the Statute, adoption of a recommendation requires a unanimous vote of all representatives present and a majority of those entitled to vote.

However, at their 519 bis meeting (November 1994) the Ministers' Deputies decided to make their voting procedure more flexible and made a "Gentleman's agreement" not to apply the unanimity rule to recommendations. Recommendations are not binding on member States.

Since 1993 the Committee has also adopted recommendations in accordance with its role in the implementation of the European Social Charter (Article 29 of the Social Charter). Recommendations adopted before 1979 were issued in the "Resolutions" series of texts adopted.

The Statute permits the Committee of Ministers to ask member governments "to inform it of the action taken by them" in regard to recommendations (Article 15.b). In 1987, at their 405th meeting, the Ministers' Deputies adopted a message to the intergovernmental committees (steering committees and committees of experts), urging them to improve their monitoring of the implementation of recommendations and resolutions.

Adopting the budget[edit]

Under Article 38.c of the Statute the Secretary General is required to prepare a draft budget each year and submit it to the Committee of Ministers for adoption. The draft budget is presented to the Deputies in November of each year. It is adopted, along with the Programme of Activities, in the form of resolutions. Under Article 29 of the Financial Regulations (revised in May 1997) the Deputies are assisted by a Budget Committee composed of eleven independent experts, appointed by the Committee of Ministers acting on proposals from member governments. An abridged version of the adopted budget is available in electronic form.

Communication[edit]

In 2006 the Committee of Ministers launched the "Council of Europe Communication Strategy", the first time that the Council of Europe had had a proper communication policy.

Adopting and monitoring the Programme of Activities[edit]

Since 1966 the Council of Europe has organised, planned and budgeted its activities according to an annual work programme, published as the "Intergovernmental Programme of Activities". The Deputies adopt the programme towards the end of each year and are entrusted with overseeing its implementation. Article 17 of the Statute authorises the Committee of Ministers to set up "advisory or technical committees". This has led to the creation of some 30 steering committees and a large number of ad hoc expert committees, which assist the Committee of Ministers in the implementation of the programme of activities.

Implementing cooperation and assistance programmes[edit]

Supervising the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights[edit]

In accordance with Article 46 of the Convention as amended by Protocol No. 11, the Committee of Ministers supervises the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. This work is carried out mainly at four regular meetings (DH/HR meetings) every year. Documentation for these meetings takes the form of the Annotated Agenda and Order of Business. These documents are made public, as are, in general, the decisions taken in each case. The Committee of Ministers' essential function is to ensure that member states comply with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The Committee completes each case by adopting a final resolution. In some cases, interim resolutions may prove appropriate. Both kinds of Resolutions are public.

Chairmanship[edit]

Incumbent listed in bold.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Short names used within EU institutions.

References[edit]

  1. ^ (in French) "17 novembre : l’Italie prend la Présidence du Comité des Ministres du Conseil de l’Europe", strasbourg-europe.eu, 17 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Ireland takes over the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers". www.coe.int. Retrieved 2022-05-24.
  3. ^ "Council of Europe suspends Russia's rights of representation". www.coe.int. Retrieved 2022-02-25.

External links[edit]