Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge has taken part in the Civil Society Summit on Council of Europe in The Hague, Netherlands. The aim of the Civil Society Summit, held on 1 March, was to elaborate a declaration for the upcoming Reykjavik Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe which will take place on 16-17 May 2023.
In a closing panel discussion, with Tiny Kox, President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and Martin Eyjólfsson, Permanent Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Representative of the Icelandic Presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, the Deputy Secretary General emphasised that the 4th Summit should be a response to democratic backsliding. “Europe should respond to the threats against multilateralism by reassembling the core building blocks of democracy. Going back to the basics”. This is the Council of Europe’s mission to construct something that is stronger and more resilient than ever before. Deputy Secretary General Berge underlined that a vibrant civil society remains central to any democracy.
The Civil Society Summit on Council of Europe was organised by the Campaign to Uphold Rights in Europe (CURE) and convened by the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations of the Council of Europe.
Based on measures agreed by member states at the session of the Committee of Ministers in Helsinki, the Council of Europe has taken steps to strengthen the protection and promotion of the civil society space in Europe. A handbook Working with the Council of Europe: a practical guide for civil society and a Civil Society Portal have been launched.