SP Senator Kox: Less competition, more cooperation between EU and Council of Europe would lead to improvement

9 January 2014

SP Senator Kox: Less competition, more cooperation between EU and Council of Europe would lead to improvement

If in the future the European Union and the Council of Europe were to put cooperation before competition, it would be better for everyone. Reproducing each other’s labour costs money and undermines credibility, according to SP Senator Tiny Kox. Senator Kox was speaking in Brussels at today’s annual meeting of chairs of political groups from the European Parliamentary and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Kox, chair of the Left Group in the Strasbourg-based PACE, argued that the European Union and the European Parliament too often do things which have already been done by the Council of Europe. ‘The Council of Europe lacks the power and the money that the EU has in abundance,’ he said. ‘On the other hand it has the splendid European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), ratified by all forty-seven European countries, including the EU’s 28 member states. It would be a good thing if the EU would fulfil its duty as soon as possible to sign the Convention. This would mean that it could make a concrete contribution to the Council of Europe’s projects aimed at improving member states’ adherence to their obligations under the ECHR. That would be better than attempting to redo the Council of Europe’s work, which leads to wastefulness and irritation.’

Today the two sets of group leaders discussed how to improve the coordination of their activities. In Kox’s view this could help prevent countries which aren’t members of the EU from constantly feeling threatened by the imperialism of a European Union seeking to spread its wings over the entire continent. Ensuring that human rights and the ECHR are respected is in the first instance the work of nation states and of the Council of Europe and its institutions, which include the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which has the power to issue binding judgments and to which every citizen in Europe can appeal in the event of a violation of his or her fundamental rights.

Kox advised European Parliament colleagues to make more use of the fact that in PACE MPs, not only from EU member states but from those outside the EU, such as Russia, Turkey and Ukraine regularly meet with each other. ‘Taking advantage of this, of the knowledge and structures involved, would prevent unnecessary misunderstandings of the kind that happen time and again, such as we experienced during the recent negotiations between the European Union and Ukraine.’

The discussion will continue at the end of January when European Parliament president Martin Schulz will be a guest at the PACE’s quarterly plenary meeting in Strasbourg.

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