Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (TDI) to to the Council and answer

Parliamentary questions
by Marco Cappato (TDI) to the Council
(1 September 2000)

Subject: Council annual report on human rights: action to be taken by the Council in response to Parliament's wishes and suggestions

In paragraph 10 of its annual report on respect for human rights in the European Union (1998-1999), Parliament, referring to the Council's annual report on human rights, "regrets the disappointing nature of the report's content, which is merely a statement of fact", whilst in paragraph 11 it "sincerely hopes that the next Council report will contain a country-by-country detailed analysis of developments in the human rights situation in the EU and proposes that monitoring systems and strategies be introduced in the future to improve respect for such rights pursuant to Articles 6 and 7 of the TEU". In paragraph 92 it "considers that the role of the Council's annual report on human rights should be specified and should hold a European analysis of human rights developments, including rights for national minorities, in the various Member States and a definition of strategies to enable national and European policies in this field to evolve with a view to improving their coherence".

Is the Council intending to act upon the wishes expressed and the suggestions put forward by Parliament and, if so, in what way? Does the Council not consider that an interinstitutional procedure could usefully be launched in order to involve all the institutions in a single EU annual report on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the EU?

(10 November 2000)

1. The Council intends to adopt its second report on human rights (1999-2000) in October. The report will then be forwarded, as was the first report, to the European Parliament.

2. In preparing the second report, the Council took account of the Parliament's views and those of other bodies active in the field of human rights. While the content of the report remains centred primarily on the European Union's action beyond its borders and its role on the international scene, a substantial part of this second report will be devoted to human rights within the European Union, in accordance with the wishes expressed at the European Union's first Forum for human rights meeting in Brussels on 30 November and 1 December 1999, in which the European Parliament took an active part. This part will expand on the action undertaken by the Fifteen in a number of priority areas (racism, security and justice, social exclusion, rights of the child, women's rights). In addition, the report's annexes will contain a list of reports submitted by Member States to human rights treaty bodies and of visits by representatives of human rights mechanisms in the Member States.

3. The Council Presidency is planning to organise in Paris on 12/13 December 2000 a second Forum for the discussion of human rights at which participants will be able to exchange views on the report and other topics of common interest. A delegation from the European Parliament will be invited to this Forum.

4. The Council attaches great importance to the dialogue with the European Parliament on human rights issues. However, the possibility of adoption of an interinstitutional procedure to draft a single annual report on human rights is not being considered at this stage.