President calls for intensified co-operation between the Council of Europe and the EU

“In the face of the challenges ahead, in particular the refugee crisis and the rise of populism, we need Pan-European solidarity and a multilateral response based on the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights,” said PACE President Pedro Agramunt, speaking at the end of a 3-day visit to the European institutions in Brussels.

“I would like to praise EU leaders and in particular President Juncker and President Schulz for their commitment to this idea. This is particularly important when the EU and one of our member states – Turkey – are discussing the measures to address the unprecedented refugee crisis. These measures must comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Council of Europe expertise is essential to ensuring this”.

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Supporting reforms in Council of Europe member states was also in the focus of PACE President’s discussions: meetings were held with the Heads of European Parliament’s Committees and delegations dealing with Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Russia as well as the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly. “The Council of Europe expertise is instrumental for the success of reforms and I welcome the extensive use by EU bodies of the reports and assessments of Council of Europe monitoring bodies.”

Speaking about the relations with Russia, PACE President said that “although our positions differ in some areas, there are much more issues that unite us. Russia is one of our member states. It is bound by our conventions and standards. Therefore, we have to talk to each other and work together.”

Turning to relations with the neighbourhood, PACE President held an extensive overview of co-operation between the EU and the Council of Europe with the EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. Discussions focused inter alia on Belarus. “Our approach follows the same general line: we should develop relations with Belarus but Belarus has to show its commitment to the values we share, in particular, by introducing a moratorium on the use of death penalty and creating conditions for free and fair elections ahead of the forthcoming parliamentary elections” stressed Pedro Agramunt.

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