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.

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".

Atrás Edward Mortimer (Rapporteur)

Born in 1943, Edward Mortimer is an English author and journalist, currently Senior Vice President and Chief Programme Officer of the Salzburg Global Seminar. He is also member of the Advisory Council of Independent Diplomat. Edward Mortimer holds an M.A. in modern history from Oxford University and spent much of his career as a journalist, at The Times of London and later at The Financial Times (1987-1998), where he specialized on Middle East and foreign affairs.

In 1998 he joined the United Nations where he served as a chief speechwriter and from 2001 to 2006 he was the Director of Communications in the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

Mr. Mortimer is a fellow at several institutions including Oxford University and the University of Warwick and involved in the governing bodies of different non-governmental organizations such as the John Stuart Mill Institute and Minority Rights Group International.

He was appointed Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George at the 2010 New Year Honours.