The work and activities of the Committee of Ministers include:
• Political dialogue
• Interacting with the Parliamentary Assembly
Relations between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly take several forms:
- the Statutory report of the Committee of Ministers
- requests for the Assembly's opinion
- follow-up to recommendations of the Assembly
- replies to oral and written questions
- the Joint Committee
• Interacting with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
• Admitting new member States
The Committee of Ministers has the authority to invite European States to become members of the Council of Europe (Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the Statute).
It may also suspend or terminate membership.
The process of admission begins when the Committee of Ministers, having received an official application for membership, consults the Parliamentary Assembly (under Statutory Resolution (51) 30). The Assembly adopts an opinion which is published in the Assembly's texts adopted.
If the Committee decides that a State can be admitted, it adopts a resolution inviting that State to become a member. The invitation specifies the number of seats that the State will have in the Assembly as well as its contribution to the budget (Article 6 of the Statute). Recently the invitations have included a number of conditions concerning the implementation of democratic reforms in the applicant State.
Once invited, a State becomes a member by depositing, normally by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, an instrument of accession with the Secretary General.
• Monitoring respect of commitments by member states
• Concluding Conventions and agreements
Article 15.a of the Statute states that the Committee of Ministers "shall consider the action required to further the aim of the Council of Europe, including the conclusion of conventions and agreements".
Over 200 treaties have now been opened for signature. The best known is the European Convention of Human Rights.
The text of any treaty is finalised when it is adopted by the Committee. Under Article 20 of the Statute adoption of a treaty requires:
- a two-thirds majority of the representatives casting a vote;
- a majority of those entitled to vote.
The same majorities are required to authorise the publication of any explanatory report.
The Committee also fixes the date that the treaty will be opened for signature.
Conventions are only binding on those States which ratify them.
• Adopting recommendations to member states
Article 15.b of the Statute provides for the Committee of Ministers to make recommendations to member states on matters for which the Committee has agreed "a common policy".
Under Article 20 of the Statute, adoption of a recommendation requires:
- a unanimous vote of all representatives present;
- a majority of those entitled to vote.
However, at their 519 bis meeting (November 1994) the Ministers' Deputies decided to make their voting procedure more flexible and made a "Gentleman's agreement" not to apply the unanimity rule to recommendations.
Recommendations are not binding on member States.
Since 1993 the Committee has also adopted recommendations in accordance with its role in the implementation of the European Social Charter (Article 29 of the Social Charter).
Recommendations adopted before 1979 were issued in the "Resolutions" series of texts adopted.
The Statute permits the Committee of Ministers to ask member governments "to inform it of the action taken by them" in regard to recommendations (Article 15.b). In 1987, at their 405th meeting, the Ministers' Deputies adopted a message to the intergovernmental committees (steering committees and committees of experts), urging them to improve their monitoring of the implementation of recommendations and resolutions.
• Adopting the Programme and Budget of the Council of Europe
The Secretary General proposes, and the Committee of Ministers approves, the Programme and Budget in accordance with the Financial regulations.
As from 1 January 2012, the Programme and Budget will cover two consecutive financial years (hereafter "the biennium"). An integrated document, the Programme sets the Organisation's objectives for the biennium, along with expected results and performance indicators, and the Budget authorises the budgetary receipts and budgetary expenditure of the Organisation for the implementation of the Programme for each of the financial years of the biennium.
The Committee of Ministers shall approve the Programme for the biennium and the Budget for the first financial year, as well as the Budget for the second financial year on a provisional basis, before the beginning of the biennium. Before 30 June of the first financial year, the Secretary General shall submit to the Committee of Ministers an adjusted draft Programme and Budget for the second year, together with the opinion of the Budget Committee. The Committee of Ministers shall approve the Budget and if applicable the revised Programme for the second financial year before 1 November of the first financial year in the biennium.
The Budget Committee is composed of eleven experts with recognised competence in the administrative and financial fields, appointed by the Committee of Ministers for a renewable term of three years (Article 25 of the Financial Regulations, revised in June 2011).
Article 17 of the Statute authorises the Committee of Ministers to set up "advisory or technical committees". This has led to the creation of a number of steering committees and ad hoc expert committees, which assist the Committee of Ministers in the implementation of the programme. In the context of the Council of Europe's organisational reform process, the intergovernmental committee structure will be reviewed on a regular basis, and for the first time by the end of March 2013.
• Implementing cooperation and assistance programmes
• Supervising the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights
In accordance with Article 46 of the Convention as amended by Protocol No. 11, the Committee of Ministers supervises the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. This work is carried out mainly at four regular meetings (DH/HR meetings) every year. Documentation for these meetings takes the form of the Annotated Agenda and Order of Business. The content of these documents is made public, as are, in general, the decisions taken in each case. The Committee of Ministers' essential function is to ensure that member states comply with the judgments and certain decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. The Committee completes each case by adopting a final resolution. In some cases, interim resolutions may prove appropriate. Both kinds of Resolutions are public. (More....)