Senate unanimous in calling for more support for Council of Europe

6 May 2008

Senate unanimous in calling for more support for Council of Europe

A unanimous Senate today instructed Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and Secretary of State Frans Timmermans to provide additional financial support to the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe provides a forum within which forty-seven European countries can work together to improve democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

The motion to that effect which the Senate backed was presented by the SP and the Christian Democrats (CDA). Both groups - one the biggest opposition party and the other the biggest of the governing coalition parties - share the view that while a great deal is asked of the Council of Europe, adequate financial support is not forthcoming.

SP Senator Paul Peters, co-presenter of the motion, said that he was "delighted" by the broad support it received from colleagues from all sides of the house. "The Council of Europe, as we say in our motion, contributes to preventing a new dividing line being drawn across Europe, to the guaranteeing and strengthening of human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Europe and to the furthering of a pan-European community. That's precisely why the institutions of the Council of Europe need money to do their work. There is the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the European Commissioner for Human Rights, and PACE, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in which members of parliament from all forty-seven European countries are represented. Yet the money isn't there, in contrast to the European Union, with its twenty-seven member states, which appears to be swimming in the stuff. Economics clearly counts for more than democracy or human rights. Support for our motion will bring pressure to bear on the Dutch government to work on a structural improvement to the system of financing. This should then lead to visible improvements in the Council of Europe's work on these important matters.”

Adding that he hoped that Foreign Minister Verhagen and Secretary of State Timmermans would now "get quickly to work and make contact with other countries which want to do something about the Council of Europe's budgetary problem," Peters stressed that "this is urgent. I will be following closely what they do and what they achieve."

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