ODGP Open Day

Strasbourg , 

Check against delivery

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the 2019 ODGP Open Day.

This annual event provides an opportunity to become more familiar with the way in which the Council of Europe co-ordinates its co-operation and technical assistance.

In his speech at the last PACE part-session the Secretary General spoke about a “shift of resources to the field to bring member states’ laws into line with the Convention, and to train judges and lawyers”.

What you will see here is the day-to-day translation of that commitment into practical reality.

ODGP co-ordinates the preparation of strategic co-operation documents – Action Plans and Neighbourhood Priorities – that pick up on the needs of specific countries and ensure the co-operation required to meet them.

This year alone will provide plenty of examples: the finalisation of the Action Plans for Belarus; the preparation of new framework co-operation documents for Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan; and an updated Overview co-operation document with Kosovo*.

All of these are on our agenda, and in every case there is a laser-like focus on producing tangible, sustainable results that demonstrate the added value of this close co-operation with our member states.

Examples of concrete results achieved in the last year include:

  • Judicial reform in Armenia with the adoption of the Judicial Code and the establishment of the Judicial Supreme Council
  • Stronger legal protection for citizens in Montenegro where references to the European Convention on Human Rights increased three-fold in the Supreme Court’s 2018 decisions
  • And closer co-operation with countries in our neighbourhood, with Morocco ratifying the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and Tunisia invited to accede to several Conventions in connection with trans-border issues such as trafficking in human beings

It is not only the Secretary General who recognises the important value of this work.

Among our member states the enthusiasm is reflected in the uptake by beneficiaries and the generosity of donors – with a total of 44 countries giving voluntary contributions last year.

Our information days and GRDem/GRExt visits, organised often in the presence of ministers and representatives of civil society, showcase the impact of those donations through the implementation of our Action Plan in a given country.

This allows member states to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the reform processes that would not be possible without their support.

While the focus of co-operation projects is usually country-specific, Joint Projects with the European Union increasingly take place in a regional context.

This regional dimension allows us to encourage the exchange of good practice between countries that know each other well and often face similar problems, and to introduce topics which are more difficult to deal with at a country-specific level.

Here, it is important not only to look at results achieved with each individual partner, but also for the region as a whole.

Whichever project we consider however, its finance is essential.

You are of course all aware that this entire dimension of the Council of Europe’s work, contrary to standard setting and monitoring, is covered mainly by extra-budgetary resources.

Member states, and in particular the European Union, make additional contributions in order to ensure that this important work can be done.

I regularly report to you on any money received in my “dialogue” with the Committee of Ministers.

Since ODGP was founded – and following the Secretary General’s focus on co-ordination and coherent implementation – such contributions have more than doubled.

In 2018, a total of €58 million was received, of which more than 29 million came from the EU and around 28 million from member and observer states.

This is an increase of about 36% in member states’ contributions since 2017 with, for the first time, a total of four member states each contributing more than €2 million each.

Special mention goes to Norway with voluntary contributions worth nearly €9 million, but I take this opportunity to express our whole-hearted thanks for all of the support received.

This includes the European Union which is of course a very important partner in terms of content as well as financial support.

We share the same values, we seek the same results and our co-operation is growing steadily.

Our joint portfolio of projects now comprises close to €200 million overall, spanning several years, many countries and a range of topics.

And the negotiations for 22 new programmes were completed successfully last year – with implementation already under way in several cases.

These include sizable new programmes in Tunisia and the second phase of the Partnership for Democratic Governance, and they are testament to excellent co-operation which will continue into the future.

Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends – it is a pleasure to finish on such a positive note.

I know that you will enjoy learning more about the work behind all of this, and I am delighted to hand over to the Director of ODGP to give you an overview of the event.

* All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.