In co-operation with the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers (November 2010 – May 2011), Thorbjørn Jagland proposed to create a Group of Eminent Persons in order to prepare a report within the context of the Pan-European project ''Living together in 21st century Europe'', on the challenges arising from the resurgence of intolerance and discrimination in Europe.

The group consisted of 9 high-ranking individuals with a specific expertise and a particular interest in the subject. Joschka Fischer was the Chairman. Edward Mortimer was the rapporteur responsible for preparing the draft report.

The other members were: Timothy Garton Ash (United Kingdom), Emma Bonino (Italy), Martin Hirsch (France), Danuta Hubner (Poland), Ayse Kadioglu (Turkey), Sonja Licht (Serbia), Vladimir Lukin (Russia), Javier Solana Madariaga (Spain).


In the first part of its report and referring to the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Group highlights eight specific risks to traditional Council of Europe values:

  • rising intolerance
  • rising support for xenophobic and populist parties ;
  • discrimination ;
  • the presence of a population virtually without rights ;
  • parallel societies ;
  • Islamic extremism ;
  • loss of democratic freedoms ;
  • a possible clash between "religious freedom" and freedom of expression.
The response

In the second part of its report, the Group begins by setting out 17 principles which it believes should guide Europe's response to these threats, starting with the statement that "at a minimum, there needs to be agreement that the law must be obeyed, plus a shared understanding of what the law is and how it can be changed".

  • It then goes on to identify the main actors able to bring about the necessary changes in public attitudes: educators, mass media, employers and trade unions, civil society, churches and religious groups, celebrities and "role models", towns and cities, member states, and European and international institutions.
  • The report then concludes with 59 "proposals for action".

Back Timothy Garton Ash

Well-known through his activities as political writer, blogger and columnist, Timothy Garton Ash is also a contemporary historian focusing on communist dictatorships in Central and Eastern Europe since 1945. Born in London in 1955, Mr. Garton Ash holds a B.A. and M.A. in modern history from Oxford University but has also studied at the Free University and Humboldt University in Berlin. He has lived in Berlin for several years, which gave him the opportunity to travel behind the "iron curtain" and to improve his knowledge of the German language and culture. His work covers the topic of the transformation of the former Eastern Bloc after 1989.

Mr. Garton Ash has been an editorial writer on Central European Affairs for The London Times and a columnist on Foreign Affairs at The Independent. He currently contributes to different American newspapers and has a weekly column at The Guardian.

Recepient, among other awards, of the George Orwell Prize (2006) for his political writing and the David Watt Memorial Prize, Mr. Garton Ash is also Professor of European Studies at Oxford University and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University.