Non-Governmental Organisations

SPRING SESSION

SOCIAL COHESION AND ERADICATION OF POVERTY COMMITTEE
CONF/SOC(2009)SYN2

Strasbourg, 20 May 2009

SYNOPSIS
OF THE MEETING OF 28 APRIL 2009

FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE SOCIAL COHESION AND ERADICATION OF POVERTY COMMITTEE

The Social Cohesion and Eradication of Poverty Committee, meeting on 28 April 2009 with Irene Donadio in the chair:

1. Amended the agenda as follows: item 4 to be dealt with before item 3.

2. Adopted the synopsis of the meeting of 27 January 2009 [CONF/SOC(2009)SYN1].

3. Intervention of Verena Taylor, Head of Social Policy Department (Directorate General of Social Cohesion) and Executive Secretary of the European Committee for Social Cohesion (CDCS), on the results of the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion, Moscow, 26-27 February 2009

Noted that:


    - the Conference had been a success, with 38 states represented, and had successfully enabled a wide variety of innovative discussions to take place;

    - a discussion had taken place on the role of social cohesion and on the priority values guiding Council of Europe policies;

    - the next conference would take place in Turkey in 2012;

    - the budget reduction was having an impact on staffing and the scope for working meetings. It necessitated difficult decisions;

    - the European Committee for Social Cohesion, which received terms of reference every year, coordinated all Council of Europe activities relating to social cohesion. The committee met once a year, and its task was to coordinate projects and the work of departments and steering committees.

    Noted the following timetable:

    - 25 and 26 May 2009: meeting of the European Committee for Social Cohesion, at which projects for 2010-2012 in particular would be studied;
    - 2009 projects: "Social mobility as a major condition for social cohesion" and "A Europe of shared social responsibilities: citizens' and public authorities' roles in promoting a cohesive and sustainable society";

    - for 2010, in partnership with the European Union: planned bringing together of all Council of Europe activities relating to poverty, exclusion and social cohesion.

Studied the following plans:

- Anna Rurka, expert for the Committee of Experts on fostering social mobility (CS-SM);

      - proposals for projects to be made to the Chair of the committee by mid-May 2009.

4. Intervention by Maria de Belém Roseira, a member of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and PACE spokesperson at the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion;

Noted:

      - the gratitude expressed to the members of the Conference of INGOs who had been present in Moscow for their useful contribution to the discussions;

      - the necessary support for social protection and the need to make a distinction between the solidarity and human rights dimensions of social protection;

      - a request for co-operation made by Bernard Marquet, Chair of the Sub-Committee on the European Social Charter and Employment of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;

      - the wish of the Social Cohesion and Eradication of Poverty Committee for the Conference of INGOs to be a member of the European Committee of Social Rights;

      - the need to build a relationship of confidence with the members of the Council of Europe bodies concerned by social cohesion by inviting them to one of our forthcoming meetings;

      - the proposal to set up an informal working group to deal with social cohesion/empowerment/participation.

5. Health: follow-up to the activities of the working group on prevention

Gave a hearing to the working group's rapporteur, Guy Schlaeder, and noted:

      - that some members of the group were to be given a hearing by the Parliamentary Assembly's Sub-Committee on Health;

      - the proposal to appoint a rapporteur on preventive health policies in Council of Europe member states;

      - this working group's appeal for contributions, particularly in the social field and from INGOs with contacts in the countries of eastern Europe;

      - the three main ideas underlying this group's activities, namely health, human rights and access to care; prevention, an economic benefit to states; social cohesion with a view to effective prevention. The aim was to reach out to those persons with the least access to care;

      - the wish to invite a representative of the Health Division to a forthcoming meeting.

6. INGO campaign: "Europe says no to poverty"

      Gave a hearing to Antonina Dashkina on this planned campaign, referred to at the January 2009 session.

Noted:

      - that 17 October, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, afforded an opportunity to publicise INGOs' activities and projects against privation, extreme poverty, etc;

      - the proposal to draft a memorandum to the various Council of Europe organs giving an account of these activities;

- the proposal to bring all the projects together at the June 2009 session.

7. Participation by the committee in the activities of the Council of Europe’s intergovernmental committees and sub-committees

Decided to deal with this item at the June 2009 session.

8. Participation of INGOs in the monitoring of the application of the European Social Charter (particularly Article 30)

Gave a hearing to Jean-Marie Heydt, President of the Conference of INGOs and noted:

      - the contribution made by the Conference of INGOs to the proposed shift of this article from "optional" status to one of the core provisions, thus increasing the level of protection associated with the revised European Social Charter.

Noted during the discussion:

- the implications of participation in the monitoring of the articles of the Charter;

      - INGOs' difficulties in contributing to discussion of the reports of countries which have ratified Article 30;

- the proposal to prepare the next monitoring cycle in four years.

9. Migration: Follow-up to the ministerial conference organised by the Council of Europe in Kyiv on "Economic migration, social cohesion and development: towards an integrated approach", 4-5 September 2008, Kyiv, Ukraine.

      Gave a hearing to Michel Julien, who had represented the Conference of INGOs at the ministerial conference.

Noted:

      - that the plan for 2009-2010 related essentially to the empowerment of migrants: access to employment, integration … and implementation of the recommendations of the High-Level Task Force on Social Cohesion;

      - the high density of information - see the thematic report on the Council of Europe's Migration website;

      - the scope for distributing these documents within our NGOs during journeys to east European countries.

10. Forthcoming events: Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Family Affairs, 16-17 June 2009, Vienna: "Public policies supporting the wish to have children: societal, economic and personal factors".

      Heard Jean-Marie Heydt presenting the programme and noted the appeal for contributions to be sent to the Chair of the committee by the end of May 2009.

Noted during the discussion:

      - the link between fertility rate and level of social cohesion, and particularly the level of public policies for the benefit of women and the family;

      - the implications of this conference, entailing both risk and an opportunity for social cohesion.

    11. Next meeting: Wednesday 24 June, 9.00 - 10.30 a.m.

      Cc: Members of the Standing Committee
      Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly
      Secretary General of the Congress
      Secretary to the Committee of Ministers
      Directors General
      Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights
      Director of the Private Office of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe
      Director of External Relations
      Director of Strategic Planning
      Director of Communication
      Director a.i. of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights