Amélie de Montchalin, France’s Secretary of State in charge of European Affairs, addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe today on behalf of the French Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.
After paying a heartfelt tribute to the former President of France Jacques Chirac, in which she spoke of his commitment to the Council of Europe, “of which he was a supporter, a friend and a protector”, Ms de Montchalin welcomed the efforts by parliamentarians and member States “to move forward together towards a return to normal functioning at the Council of Europe, in the interest of peoples and the protection of their rights”.
Referring to the return of the Russian delegation last June, she said the Assembly had taken the decision to “preserve the European family” and “to enable millions of citizens to maintain effective protection of their rights under the Convention”.
Feeling that this crisis had helped to strengthen dialogue between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers, she said they had a collective duty to keep up the momentum by introducing the new joint response procedure “which will allow us to react together, in an effective and co-ordinated manner, if a member State fails to fulfil its commitments.” She underscored the four key principles for its implementation: predictability, responsiveness, credibility and reversibility, and expressed the hope that the procedure would be operational in January 2020. “The Assembly, the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General must be able to decide, in a joint and operational manner, or even to impose sanctions if necessary.” Suggesting that “interim and progressive measures” be introduced, she pointed out that the new procedure was about “encouragement, not punishment.”