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Council of Europe policy towards neighbouring regions
In May 2011, at the 121st Ministerial Session in Istanbul, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) endorsed the Secretary General's proposal for a CoE policy towards neighbouring regions, covering the Southern Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Asia.
The CoE policy towards its neighbouring regions seeks to:
- facilitate democratic political transition
- help to promote good governance
- reinforce and enlarge the CoE's regional action in combating trans-border threats.
- This policy is based on two pillars:
- political dialogue (neighbourhood co-operation dialogue) between the country concerned and the CoE, including at high-level, which accompanies and supports the co-operation activities;
- technical co-operation (neighbourhood co-operation priorities), in the form of an agreement on specific co-operation activities, concluded between the country concerned and the Council of Europe.
The CoE policy towards its neighbouring regions focuses on areas in which the CoE has a clear added value. CoE Conventions and standards are the main reference for co-operation. A close co-operation and co-ordination with other international partners allows avoiding duplications and promoting synergies in co-operation activities.
CoE co-operation is based on a demand-driven approach: co-operation activities are decided on the basis of the needs and priorities expressed by the national counterparts. Furthermore, a flexible approach is adopted, in order to tailor any intervention on the situation of a specific country but also to respond to new emerging priorities.
Finally, co-operation with the neighbourhood is mainly funded through extra-budgetary resources, such as Joint Programmes with the European Union and voluntary contributions from CoE member States.
CoE policy towards its immediate neighbourhood is regularly monitored by the Committee of Ministers of the CoE.
The first neighbourhood co-operation documents (“Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities”-NCPs) were concluded with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan for the period 2012-2014. On the basis of the concrete results achieved, both pillars of co-operation with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan (political dialogue and technical co-operation) have been further strengthened, in the framework of new co-operation documents covering 2015-2017 (“Neighbourhood Partnerships”- NPs) that were adopted by the CoE Committee of Ministers on 4 February 2015.
Furthermore, fields of co-operation with the Kyrgyz Republic were also agreed on with the Kyrgyz authorities and included in the “Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities 2015-2017” document that was also adopted by the CoE Committee of Ministers on 4 February 2015. It is a breakthrough in the region as this is the first comprehensive co-operation document with a country from Central Asia. A targeted-co-operation programme for 2014-2015, focusing on facilitating possible accession to selected CoE conventions in the criminal field, was also concluded with Kazakhstan.
Besides bilateral co-operation, the CoE also carries out regional activities, with a view to strengthen the exchanges of experiences and best practices among neighbouring countries.