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Policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions

At its Istanbul session in May 2011, the Committee of Ministers endorsed the Secretary General’s proposal to open up towards countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia which request Council of Europe assistance, based on the common values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The Policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions sets the following objectives:

to facilitate democratic political transition;

to help to promote good governance; and

to reinforce and enlarge Council of Europe regional action in combating trans-border and global threats.

The Policy should be implemented without prejudice to the Council of Europe's activities in member States; the Council of Europe contribution should be demand-driven and respond to clearly-expressed interests and concrete commitments from partner countries; the Policy also should be developed in strict coherence with the Council of Europe's values and standards.

It is based on 2 pillars:

- Neighbourhood Co-operation Dialogue - as a means of political dialogue at the highest level. It is a two-way exchange of views on issues of common interest, presentation of the objectives and modalities of the Council of Europe’s Policy towards neighbouring regions and, where applicable, identification of priority areas for bilateral co-operation. It has, so far, involved the authorities of Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian National Authority, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

Within the Secretariat, the Directorate of External Relations (DER) has the primary responsibility for the Neighbourhood Co-operation Dialogue.

-Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities, which reflect a formal agreement on specific priorities. In the South Mediterranean, the "first generation" Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities setting out specific activities with Morrocco, Tunisia and Jordan for the period 2012-2014, were successfully implemented. In Central Asia, the implementation of the Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities focusing on Council of Europe conventions in criminal matters (2014-2015) has been initiated with Kazakhstan and a Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities document for 2015-2017 has been agreed with the Kyrgyz Republic.

Within the Secretariat, the Office of  the Director General of Programmes (ODG PROG) has the primary responsibility for the Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities.

In September 2014, the Secretary General confirmed that assistance to neighbouring countries which want to anchor reforms through adherence to Council of Europe standards should be upheld. “Our neighbourhood has a direct impact on democratic security in Europe. Our aim should be to prepare their accession to our conventions on common threats and challenges […] in this way we can expand the area of stability around Europe and strengthen our fight against trans-border threats to Europe - thus directly benefiting democratic security in our member states”.

The Secretary General, accordingly, initiated a new dynamic with the Council of Europe’s closest partners by introducing Neighbourhood Partnerships. The two-track approach of the Policy - bilateral and regional - was also confirmed. Subsequently, on 4 February 2015, the Committee of Ministers approved Neighbourhood Partnership documents for 2015-2017 with Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. The Neighbourhood Partnerships combine and strengthen the two pillars of the Policy - political dialogue and co-operation - by offering a framework for an “Enhanced Political Dialogue”, the intensity of which will reflect the quality of the co-operation between these countries and the Council of Europe.

TheEnhanced Political Dialogue” offers wide opportunities for dialogue between the Organisation and the authorities of the partner countries, ranging from high-level exchanges on topics on the bilateral agenda and political issues of common interest to discussions on concrete co-operation activities relevant to the implementation of the Neighbourhood Partnership.

In the Neighbourhood Partnership documents, co-operation priorities, identified during discussions with the authorities concerned, continue to support primarily partner countries’ reform processes in the fields of human rights, justice, the fight against corruption, against money laundering and against terrorism with a view to bringing the partner countries closer to the relevant Council of Europe standards. The Council of Europe also supports constitutional reform processes by contributing to the drafting of organic laws and other legislative instruments and the actual implementation of constitutional provisions, including the setting‑up of bodies provided for under the Constitution.

The Partnerships are financed for the most part by an European Union/Council of Europe joint programme (“Towards Strengthened Democratic Governance in the Southern Mediterranean”), which also includes a regional component. This has been complemented by the financial support of a number of member States.

For details, see also : Office of the Directorate General of Programmes (ODGP)

link: http://www.coe.int/en/web/programmes/southern-neighbourhood

Documents

- Neighbourhood Partnerships

Neighbourhood Partnership with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan 2015-2017

Neighbourhood Partnership with Morocco 2015-2017

Neighbourhood Partnership with Tunisia 2015-2017

- Other documents

Decision of the Deputies - Follow-up, 27 May 2015, on the Policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions

Decision of the Committee of Ministers on the Policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions, 19 May 2015, Brussels (125th Session, 19 May - Item 5)

Report on the implementation of the Council of Europe Policy towards neighbouring regions, CM(2015)51 final, 29 April 2015

Co-operation between the Council of Europe and Israel

Decision on the Policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions: Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia: Proposals for neighbourhood partnership, 4 February 2015

Accession of countries from Council of Europe Neighbouring Regions to Treaties of the Organisation: State of Play (DER/Inf(2014)1)

Report on the implementation of the Council of Europe policy towards neighbouring regions (CM(2014)50), 30 April 2014

Decision on the policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions, 6 May 2014

Report on the implementation of the Council of Europe policy towards neighbouring regions (CM(2013)42), 3 May 2013

Decision on the policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions, 16 May 2013

Report by the Secretary General on the implementation of the Council of Europe policy towards neighbouring regions (SG/Inf(2012)15, 16 May 2012)

Decision on the policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions, 23 May 2012

Activity Report by the Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland - 121st Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (Istanbul, 11 May 2011), part 8 - A proposal for a neighbourhood policy of the Council of Europe"

Council of Europe Neighbourhood Policy (SG/Inf(2011)7rev2), 19 April 2011

A Neighbourhood Policy for the Council of Europe? - Analytical Background Document (SG/Inf(2011)5), 25 February 2011

Decision on the Neighbourhood policy of the Council of Europe, 10-11 May 2011