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EU/CoE Joint programme information event, on the occasion of Europe day

Strasbourg , 

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Friends,

I want to begin by congratulating Ambassador Kuneva on this initiative.

Europe Day provides the perfect backdrop for showcasing the important co-operation that takes place, day in, day out, between the Council of Europe and the European Union.

I also agree fully with the comments that you just heard from President Juncker.

When I arrived here in 2009, I made productive relations with the European Union one of my key priorities.

And over the course of these past ten years, our partnership has become ever closer.

Jean-Claude Juncker’s personal commitment to both the European Union and the Council of Europe has been central to making that happen.

The foundations that we have built on were, however, already in place.

In 2007 the Council of Europe and the European Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding, committing both parties to develop their relationship in areas of common interest.

An important element was our co-operation through Joint Programmes.

These transform our mutual belief in human rights, democracy and the rule of law into specific, tangible action.

However, structural changes and new tools were essential in order to maximise the impact we seek.

That’s why our field presence was overhauled and the Office of the Directorate General of Programmes (ODGP) was created.

The effect was immediate: strategic programmes, in the field, in greater numbers.

This trend was strengthened further by a joint Statement of Intent signed in 2014 and taken to another level still by the introduction of our Project Management Methodology.

We now work with a cumulated envelope of just over 154 million euros: double the budget in place when I arrived.

Co-operation has become more predictable and more efficient with larger-scale, multi-country and multi-annual projects replacing many individually negotiated and unrelated schemes.

And we are able to demonstrate what we achieve through measurable results while taking into account a number of transversal parameters, such as gender mainstreaming.

But our success also relies on the participation of a third partner: the participating states themselves.

In our approach, the Council of Europe’s working methods are unique and egalitarian.

While a member state may wish for support in a specific area, it also takes part in every aspect of standard setting and monitoring.

There is no finger pointing at individual countries; there are no first or second class member states.

Instead, we work together towards the best possible implementation of Council of Europe standards, enhancing human rights, democracy and the rule of law for the entire continent – and beyond.

So again I wish to thank Ambassador Kuneva for her support and to the European Union as a whole for its work with us in this regard and in so many others.

I also want to thank you for the interest that you have shown by coming here today.

I hope that you will take today as an opportunity to celebrate with us the progress that we have made and to find out more about what we do.

Thank you.