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Ninth Debate on European Identity, 11 March - Ana Palacio: "The Core EU challenge: democratic deficit or trust deficit?"

Debate with Ana PalacioIntroduction speech: English

Audio recording including discussion


The session was introduced by Ms Ana Palacio, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, member of the Council of State of Spain.

In her presentation entitled ‘The core EU challenge: democratic deficit or trust deficit ?’ She shared her reflections on Europe and its future.

Ms Palacio’s presentation was followed by a discussion with the audience. The debate was held in English.

More on Debates on European identity

DPP Open thought papers  -  n° 18

The Directorate of Policy Planning has designed this new series of conceptual notes to inject new ideas from outside sources and stimulate innovative thinking. The ‘Open Thoughts Papers’ are based on publications and research results of the academic community.

'The Curious Case of the Fall in Crime : The Rise of Human Rights?’

"Around the summer of 2013, several high-ranking newspapers, specialised weeklies and (governmental) internet sites reported on a rather curious decline in crime in the UK and the US as well as in other Western countries, in particular over the last two decades. These crime categories especially concern ‘contact’ crimes such as homicide, rape, knife-, gun- and gang-related crimes or domestic assault . As a result, the political scene warmly welcomed the fall in crime, emphasising “the efforts by their police forces in combatting crime and delivering a better service to the public despite savings and reforms in the security department” (statement by the UK Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker on 17 October 2013)."... Read more

Cooperation with think tanks

   New !   - Advisory Report by the think-tank Task Force on 'Smart Power - Ways of Enhancing the Council of Europe's impact'.

As a follow-up to the December 2012 meeting of major think tanks, a task force-format with three different CoE-related focal topics has been decided, each on a central topic or concept which from the CoE’s perspective seems to be of strategic importance in the near or long-term future:

To date, two Task forces have met, gathering high-level and experienced think tank representatives.

The first task force, ‘Smart Power – Ways of Enhancing the Council of Europe’s Impact’ met in Munich, on 27 June 2013. The activity report above is the result of the discussions which were devoted to general strategic questions concerning the Council of Europe’s role and impact as an international organisation in the future. Major aspects such as the Council’s mandate, its relationship with the EU, capabilities-question etc. were also addressed, as well as : How can the CoE’s political impact be enhanced? What strategies could be imagined to make the Council and its work more relevant and visible to societies and governments? What could the relationship between the Council and other international organisations look like and which synergies could be used? The work of this task force could later result in an innovative new “political strategy” for the Council of Europe.

The second task force ‘The Pan-European Dimension: Ensuring the Use of the Council’s Wider European Membership’ addressed the membership and scope of the Council of Europe as one of its key assets.

The third task force ‘Challenges to European Societies: Identifying Major Risks and Finding Innovative Policies’ is expected to meet in Spring 2014.


Eighth Debate on European Identity with Tzvetan Todorov on 'In search of Europe', 13 February 2014, Council of Europe, Strasbourg

TodorovAccording to Tzvetan Todorov, the growing unhappiness with the European Union (EU) amongst the population should be understood as a response to politicians’ lack of vision for the European project. Interminable debates on bureaucratic rules and regulations, coupled with inadequate responses to the economic and social crises facing Europe’s citizens, leave citizens discouraged.

He remains convinced that the rationale in favour of the EU is still valid and suggests that building a cultural, or even spiritual, identity for Europe may help to overcome many disappointments and strengthen people’s connection with Europe.

Tzvetan Todorov notes the benefits from the richness of European culture, its plurality and diversity of traditions and ways of life, but he also sees difficulties with attempts to define a shared identity. He opts for an identity which refers to the constitutive pluralism of the EU as a basis of unity. This should embrace tolerance, emulation, critical thinking, generalised secularism, "general will" (Rousseau) and "common sense" (Kant). He draws particular attention to the significance and status of diversity as well as common memories and the coexistence of national and regional identities (‘Europe as a form of cohabitation between nations’).

Text of speech (French only)

More on Debates on European identity


DPP Newsletter: Second issue  (22.11.2013)


Sixth Debate on European Identity with Daniel Cohn-Bendit on "Quo vadis Europa ?" 18 November 2013, Council of Europe, Strasbourg

Cohn-BenditIn a recent article Daniel Cohn-Bendit argued that “the time is ripe for a transnational, trans-generational, trans-partisan, grass-roots and crowd-funded movement to take European integration to the next level”. He suggests that Europe has a role to play as one of the global leaders, but to achieve this, Europe needs a paradigm shift based on the abandonment of national sovereignty and a move away from state-nation structures.

Is Europe ready to undertake these kinds of reforms and do European institutions have enough legitimacy to do so?
What are the limits of European integration and what responsibilities would national states have in a transnational Europe? 
Could European identity one day substitute national patriotism?

Text of speech (French version - English version to follow) 

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The Directorate of Policy Planning (DPP) was set up in 2010 in order to provide the Secretary General, the Committee of Ministers and Major Administrative Entities (MAEs) of the Council of Europe with conceptual and strategic analyses about relevant political and societal developments in Europe and beyond. Its work is based on research and on topical exchanges with internal and external networks. The objective is to enhance the Organisation’s ability to anticipate major trends and challenges facing member states and to offer coherent short- and long-term responses within its statutory mandate.

DPP's mandate 

Policy planning missions explained by Director Piotr Switalski: Watch interview (February 2014)

Policy planning activities
Debate series
European Identity Debates

Does European identity already exist? How could European identity be defined and characterised? How could a common European identity contribute to strengthening the practices and processes of European integration within a wider Europe?

These and many more questions will be addressed in the new series of Debates on European Identities initiated by the Council of Europe jointly with the French Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA). Building on the format of the previous Democracy debates, and enlarging the thematic scope, this series aims to provide an intellectual framework to stimulate reflection amongst diplomats, Council of Europe staff and experts.

Concept paper
Web site

Democracy Debate Series

This series of debates was initiated by the Secretary General in order to stimulate reflection and discussion on the developments and challenges affecting European societies, thereby fostering innovative thinking and action within the Organisation and helping to forge the role of the Council of Europe as a laboratory for new concepts and ideas on democracy. From April 2011 to June 2012, the Democracy Debate series allowed member and observer state Delegations and Council of Europe staff to attend a number of debates introduced by renowned speakers on issues related to the challenges to democracy in Europe and beyond.
Democracy Debates web site
Democracy Debates Collection: 'Democracy on the Precipice'

Meetings of Directors of Policy Planning

In order to analyse member States' European and trans-European policies, the Directorate of Policy Planning organises meetings bringing together Directors of policy planning from Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Council of Europe member states. The first such meeting took place in February 2011 on the general policies in members States followed by a second meeting in September on "Europe and its Arab neighbours: common or compatible values?". The third meeting on 'Central Asian Neighbourhood: Europe's Outpost or Trans-Asian Bridge?' took place in Bucharest in March 2012. The latest meeting was held in Strasbourg in April 2013 on ‘The Promotion of Democracy in Europe and Beyond: New Challenges, Strategies and Instruments’.

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In-house Policy planning meetings
ALER-T initiative
The ALER-T (Awareness Laboratory for early response - Team) in house meetings bring together representatives of all Major Administrative entities (MAES), seeking to enhance the Council of Europe's capacity to provide coherent short-and long-term responses within its statutory mandate to challenges facing member states and the Organisation. Since February 2011 more than thirty five meetings have taken place on themes as varied as intercultural dialogue, migration, political extremism, freedom of expression, youth participation, rule of law, financial crisis and social cohesion, corruption and human rights, concentration of power, anti-piracy law, the use and abuse of history in times of crisis, gender balance, elderly people and ageism.

List of meetings 
Main policy findings 
Country-based informal seminars

These meetings offer an opportunity to Council of Europe staff members who work on activities relating to a specific country to discuss the actual and potential role of the Council of Europe in helping to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in that country.

At each meeting, the political context is introduced by a recognised expert specialising in a country or region, followed by a discussion raising issues relevant to the Council of Europe’s work with the country or region in question.

Since October 2011, a number of closed informal brainstorming meetings have taken place, including on Turkey (October 2011), Ukraine (February 2012), Bosnia and Herzegovina (March 2012) and Azerbaijan (June 2012), Georgia (November 2012), United-Kingdom (February 2013), ‘Non-Recognised/Separatist Entities’ (March 2013), ‘Europe after the Crisis’ (April 2013).

Co-operation with think-tanks

The Directorate of Policy Planning is building contacts with major European think tanks and reviews academic work on relevant topics, such as climate change, demographic changes, robotics and ethics, in order to provide Senior Management with strategic expertise and background information.

On 4 December 2012, the Council of Europe organised a meeting of directors of policy planning and representatives from 27 major European think tanks in Strasbourg.

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The Schools of Political Studies
General presentation

The Schools of Political Studies are aimed at training future generations of political, economic, social and cultural leaders in countries in transition. With the participation of national and international experts, they organise annual series of seminars and conferences on topics such as European integration, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and globalisation.

The Schools web site


School Directors' meetings

The last meeting of the Directors of the Schools of Political Studies took place in Strasbourg on 27 November 2013.

Seminars organised by the Schools

A number of seminars and other events are being organised by the Schools.

See list for October to December 2013.

Group of Eminent Persons on "Living together in the XXI Century"
At the initiative of Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, a Group of Eminent Persons (GEP) was convened in 2011 to prepare a report in the context of the project ''Living together in 21st century Europe'', on the challenges arising from the resurgence of intolerance and discrimination in Europe. The Directorate of Policy Planning implements follow-up action to the report.
Other activities

Joint Council of Europe - Harvard University Conference SeriesHarvard

"Divided by a Common Heritage: Human Rights in Europe and the United States",

 The United States of America and Europe have long considered themselves to be allies in the fight for domestic and international human rights. However, these two continents interpret certain key human rights issues in different ways and there is a need for a meaningful dialogue. Therefore, the Council of Europe and Harvard University have agreed to co-organise a two-part conference series, first in Cambridge, on 23 September 2013, and then in Strasbourg, in the first half of 2014. This conference series is aimed at exposing participants to viewpoints different from those they already possess, and thereby facilitate a greater understanding on the similarity and dissimilarity in human rights perspectives, practices and standards across the Atlantic.

The first conference took place in Cambridge on 23 September 2013. It was composed of three panels: • Panel 1: Does Context Matter? How and Why Europe and the US Differ on Human Rights ? • Panel 2: Cyberspace: Terra Incognita for Human Rights? European and US Experiences • Panel 3: Overcoming Intolerance: Addressing Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in the US and Europe

The conference at Harvard Law School gathered a variety of high-level American and European speakers. It was attended by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe who gave a speech on “Is There a Crisis of Values in the Western World?”. Panelists included leading Harvard academics and European scholars and practitioners. The topics to be addressed at the second conference in Strasbourg will include: Penal System, Living Together: Asylum and immigration, Social Protection Systems.

Programme of the conference

Conference poster

The second conference of the series will take place  in Strasbourg, in May or June 2014.


Council of Europe - OSCE study

In 2011, the Council of Europe commissioned the study ‘The Council of Europe and the OSCE: Enhancing Co-operation and Complementarity through Greater Coherence’. This study was finalised in March 2012 and includes a number of practical proposals on how the two organisations could achieve greater synergies and ensure better coherence and complementarity. It was brought to the attention of all Delegations to the Council of Europe and through the OSCE Secretary General and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office to the Delegations at the OSCE.

Read the report on relations between the CoE and the OSCE

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