A historical day for the North-South Centre
On 5 May, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted a new statutory resolution for the North-South Centre. As Chair of the Executive Council, I welcome this crucial step, which positively concludes a process launched in November 2009 by the Parliamentary Assembly, in connection with the 20th Anniversary of the Centre. Through this decision, the member States - and indeed all the stakeholders of the North-South Centre - are confirming its relevance and importance, at a time when the Arab countries - our neighbours - are facing historical changes.
The main lines of the Centre's new statute, which will enter into force on 1 June 2011, are the following :
- the Centre will keep its present legal nature, and continue to function as an enlarged partial agreement of the Council of Europe;
- an invitation is made to all member States of the Council of Europe as well as to the European Union to join the Centre as soon as possible;
- the Centre will mainly act as an interface between the Council of Europe and countries in neighbouring regions which are interested in cooperating with the Organisation, by offering them a platform for structured cooperation at different levels (governments, parliamentarians, local and regional authorities, civil society);
- the two present statutory organs of the Centre will be merged into a new "Executive Committee", which will be the single decision making body of the North-South Centre : through this important structural change, the "quadrilogue" functioning of the Centre is preserved, while full participation of all member states in the decision making process is ensured;
- the relationship with the European Union will be reinforced, through the introduction of the EU Committee of Regions as a new stake-holder of the North-South Centre;
- the priority areas of the Centre are confirmed (education, youth, intercultural dialogue), with an increased focus on the promotion of Council of Europe principles and values beyond the European continent.
At the same time, the Committee of Ministers has adopted - after three years of work - a Recommendation on education for global interdependence and solidarity, which is the first European legal standard on global education. This Recommendation will offer a solid basis for the Centre's work in one of its major fields of activity, in Europe and beyond.
Indeed, 5 May 2011 will remain a historical day for the North-South Centre!
Chair of the Executive Council of the North-South Centre
on the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre)