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Directorate General of Democracy
Issue 25 – 21 May 2021
Art keeps democracy alive…

...and without it, democracy is dead. This was one of the strong quotes heard at the launch event for the Council of Europe’s new digital platform Free to Create - Create to be Free (https://freetocreate.art/videos/teaser-sound.1080p.h264.mp4) that will host a unique art collection offered by its member States. Germany has donated the first and impressive pieces by artists Nasan Tur (www.nasantur.com/copy-of-picture-3) and Tewa Barnosa.

Running through the roundtable debate on 6 May in Kristiansand (Supporting events European Conference 6 May on Livestream) was alarm at the influence of populist and nationalist politics on freedom of expression and hence the essential need to defend a free and open public space and freedom from censorship online and offline. Artists, arts and cultural institutions, governments, media and public alike must protect this most fundamental of rights. The exchange triggered suggestions for further work and marks the start of a new event series in the cultural sector.

“Towards the full recognition of LGBTI rights across Europe“

On 5 May 2021, under the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, the German Ministry for Family Affairs and the Observatory for Sociopolitical Developments in Europe organised the digital event “Towards the full recognition of LGBTI rights across Europe“ on strategic policy measures to implement the Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić emphasised that “LGBTI issues are not abstract or ideological”.

Michael Farrell, 2nd Vice-Chair of ECRI and Head of ECRI’s Task Force on LGBTI issues, underlined the role of online hate speech as a vehicle that fuels discrimination against LGBTI persons and political backsliding in this regard. Referring to the recently published ECRI Annual Report for 2020, Mr Farrell stressed that ECRI observed trends in several Council of Europe member states of undermining the human rights of LGBTI persons as set out in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and the country monitoring reports of ECRI. Mr Farrell stated that in order to counter backsliding, co-ordinated efforts are needed by all relevant human rights bodies and that the LGBTI communities affected by this backsliding need encouragement and support.

Jeroen Schokkenbroek, Director of Anti-Discrimination, and Irena Guidikova, Head Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Programmes Division, discussed alongside policy makers and NGOs ongoing discrimination of LGBTI persons and looked at concrete policy measures to implement the Committee of Ministers Recommendation at national level, focusing on the assistance given to member states in designing and implementing LGBTI Action Plans, peer learning, advocacy and awareness raising.


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Gender Equality and the Istanbul Convention: a Decade of Action

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), the Council of Europe organised on 11 May 2021 an online conference in co-operation with the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, in the framework of Germany’s current Presidency of the Committee of Ministers.

The morning session of the conference reaffirmed the political will of states parties to fully implement the Istanbul Convention, and highlighted its importance and its impact over the past decade. The afternoon panel discussed the implementation of the Council of Europe Recommendation on preventing and combating sexism and the related Council of Europe Campaign “Sexism: See it. Name it. Stop it!”, highlighting relevant initiatives of decision makers and civil society at the national and regional level to address sexism. The recording of the conference, which was livestreamed from Berlin, will be available shortly on the conference webpage.

documentary illustrating the impact of the Convention on the ground in four countries: Albania, France, Italy and Sweden. The documentary encompasses testimonies of relevant state or civil society actors presenting concrete examples of measures taken in these countries, in four areas, better known as the “4Ps” of the Istanbul Convention: 1) Prevention of violence against women, 2) Protection of victims, 3) Prosecution of perpetrators and 4) Integrated Policies on violence against women which are comprehensive and coordinated among all relevant stakeholders.

The Council of Europe organised or co-organised several awareness-raising events, conferences and campaigns in the member states to mark the 10th anniversary of the Convention, based on the media and social media information package developed for this occasion, adapted to the specific contexts. Online conferences took place, with the participation of high-level figures in the Republic of Moldova, in Serbia and in Ukraine, as well as in Kosovo*. The Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General also took part in events organized by member states, for instance in Italy and Spain.

GREVIO mid-term horizontal review

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Istanbul Convention, GREVIO issued a mid-term horizontal review of all GREVIO baseline evaluation reports to date, which is a testimony to the many steps that have been taken by governments, women’s support services and numerous other actors to ensure the right of all women and girls to live a life free from violence in 17 State Parties to the Convention – and to GREVIO’s tailor-made guidance that enables governments to further advance in their level of implementation of the convention.

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Training for journalists in North Macedonia: how to report about human trafficking cases?

In North Macedonia, on 11 May 2021, 32 journalists and students of journalism completed online training on how to report about human trafficking cases in a fact-based and victim-respectful manner. The training was delivered in co-operation with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the Association of Journalists for Human Rights.

Strengthening preliminary identification of children at risk of trafficking in Serbia

In Serbia, the first meeting of the working group set up by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development to revise the indicators for preliminary identification of children at risk of trafficking was held on 10 May 2021.  The second meeting will be held on 1-2 June.

New research: ‘'Setting up Treatment Programmes for Perpetrators of Domestic Violence and Violence against Women in Kosovo*’’

The report “Setting up Treatment Programmes for Perpetrators of Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence - Analysis of legal framework and good practices” was presented online on 28 April 2021. It examines the current legal and policy framework regarding treatment of perpetrators of gender-based violence; identifies the gaps and needs in this area; outlines experiences of perpetrator programmes locally, including practices and pilot projects; provides illustrative examples of promising practices from other countries; and proposes recommendations for future actions, in compliance with the Istanbul Convention and other international standards and guidelines. A short introductory video of the research was presented during the event. The report is available in EnglishAlbanian and Serbian.

HELP course on violence against women in Azerbaijan and Kosovo*

As part of the EU/CoE Partnership for Good Governance II Programme, the HELP course on violence against women was translated into Azerbaijani, adapted to the national context and launched in Azerbaijan. The launch took place on 4 May 2021 and was co-hosted by the Academy of Justice of Azerbaijan. The first group of participants included 10 judges, 10 lawyers and 5 prosecutors, who enrolled in the tutored course and are expected to finalise the course in July.

A mid-course meeting was organised for students of the Faculty of Law-University of Pristina to discuss gender aspects of violence against women and how it is addressed in Kosovo*.This  mid-course is part of the ongoing HELP course on violence against women and domestic violence that is being implemented for 28 law students from the Council of Europe project "Reinforcing the fight against violence against women and domestic violence - phase II" in cooperation with Faculty of Law-University of Pristina.

Greece: Delivering Good Governance

The Joint Council of Europe - European Union Project “Delivering Good Governance in Greece” will end on 30 May 2021. The online final conference held on 10 May presented its main results to an audience of almost 100 participants.

The Minister of Interior, Makis Voridis, praised the contribution of the Council of Europe through this project which, as he noted, helped building an efficient, effective and modern Public Administration. He also added that the development of inter-municipal cooperation is a key goal of the Ministry of Interior, as through it "participants gain mutual benefits and use economies of scale, improving the allocation of resources and adopting good practices."

The Secretary General of the Ministry, the Governor of the National Transparency Authority, the President of the Academy of Public Administration, and the Council of Europe Director of Human Dignity, Equality and Governance, also participated in the opening of the Conference and congratulated all participants with the successful completion of the project.

The project was launched in 2019 by the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance and aimed at strengthening Inter-Municipal Cooperation (IMC) in the country. Twelve municipalities were supported in establishing two pilot IMC agreements, and a Handbook on Inter-Municipal Cooperation in Greece was prepared, combining theoretical aspects with a practical focus on the Greek context, including a detailed description of the relevant legal framework, templates and step-by-step guidelines.

Read the short project report to find out what we achieved together.

Armenia: Increasing fiscal autonomy and fiscal capacity of local authorities

How can states promote decentralisation of powers and competences to local authorities while ensuring a fair distribution of resources and adequate service provision without increasing the fiscal burden on citizens? This is the essence of the question discussed by senior officials from Austria, Albania, Finland, Italy, and Ukraine in the context of a Peer Review by the European Committee of Democracy and Governance (CDDG) in Armenia 4-6 May 2021.

The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure (MTAI) of the Republic of Armenia is currently preparing amendments to further fiscal and financial decentralisation, support the reorganisation of tax administration for local self-government units, and promote adherence to Article 9 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government related to financial resources of local authorities.

A CDDG peer Review exercise such as this one falls at the intersection of Council of Europe monitoring, standard-setting and cooperation activities.  In successive monitoring reports, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe has raised concerns about the level of financial autonomy and access to adequate financial resources of local authorities in Armenia. 

The Council of Europe, through the Democratic Development, Decentralisation and Good Governance in Armenia project implemented by the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance, has been supporting reforms to the legislative framework in Armenia based on Council of Europe standards such as the Committee of Ministers Recommendations CM/Rec(2011)11, CM/Rec(2005)1 and CM(2004)1.

Organised by videoconference, the Peer Review team met with a broad range of officials and stakeholders, and participated in a public roundtable discussion on the possible reforms.  A report highlighting good practice and potential pitfalls based on specific examples from the participating member states will be submitted to the Armenian authorities in the coming weeks.

The Democratic Development, Decentralisation and Good Governance in Armenia project is implemented in the context of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Armenia and funded by the Austrian Development Agency.

Republic of Moldova: Electoral Training

The Council of Europe alongside the Centre for Continuing Electoral Training in the Republic of Moldova (Training Centre) launched an online training course on Countering misuse of administrative resources during the election period on 27 April 2021. The online event gathered representatives of the Central Electoral Commission, the General Inspectorate of the Police, the civil society, electoral management bodies.

The course comprises five chapters concerning integrity as a key value of the electoral process, notion and classification of administrative resources, relevant international standards, the basic document being the Joint Guidelines of the Venice Commission and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights for Preventing and Responding to the Misuse of Administrative Resources During Electoral Processes (2016), as well as the legal framework of the Republic of Moldova meant to prevent the misuse of administrative resources during the electoral period and engaging the responsibility for the misuse of administrative resources during the electoral period.

Ukraine: Signing of Memorandum On Cooperation with Novograd-Volynskyi City Council

On 14 May, within the Council of Europe project “Strengthening civil participation in democratic decision making in Ukraine” the Memorandum on Cooperation between the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine and Novograd-Volynskyi City Council (Zhytomyr oblast) was signed. As a result of signing the Memorandum, the Novograd-Volynskyi City Council will approve the Statute of territorial community and the Regulation, which will define, among others, procedures on openness, transparency, and accountability of governance and mechanisms of civil participation in local decision making. During the online meeting led by the City Mayor, the draft of the new version of the Statute was discussed whereas the finalization of the document is expected at the beginning of June.


CEB @65: Leading for social cohesion

The CEB celebrates the 65th anniversary of its creation this year. Throughout 2021 the Bank will be looking back at some of the milestones and achievements from its 65 years. The one thing that has remained unchanged since 1956 is the CEB’s focus on vulnerable population groups. In times of crises, the CEB always rises to the occasion and demonstrates adaptability, proactiveness and steadfastness in its support to member countries. On the occasion of the anniversary, the Secretary General reflects on the evolution of the Bank and its relationship with the Council of Europe in the latest edition of CEB Info, the Bank’s quarterly magazine.

Business as (COVID) usual at the EDQM…

The annual meeting of Secretaries of National Pharmacopoeia Authorities (NPAs) is ongoing (19 to 21 May). The meeting, originally scheduled to take place in Helsinki, Finland, is again being held virtually, with representatives from 27 of the 39 member states in attendance.

Organised and chaired by the EDQM, the aim of these meetings is to facilitate and coordinate activities of common interest, provide a forum for information sharing and promote exchange and reflection on working methods within the member states. The topics addressed are therefore varied.

This year’s agenda includes an exchange of experiences with Extranet, one of the IT systems developed by the EDQM. Extranet allows the secure exchange of meeting agendas and reports, draft texts and other official documents, most of which are confidential, with the NPAs, the experts and the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.) Commission. It is also used to collect comments, mainly from experts and delegations, on draft texts. These two-way discussions give NPAs the opportunity to share their practical experience and suggest possible improvements to the tool, but also allow the EDQM to inform NPAs of possible future changes.

In terms of working methods, the meeting will give NPAs advance notification of a change in the way modifications made to Ph. Eur. texts are flagged for users. The change in approach is the result of the regular review of the Ph. Eur. text elaboration and revision processes, carried out according to the principle of continuous improvement. The aim is to make the publication process even more secure while at the same time providing users with greater transparency on changes to texts. This discussion topic will be an opportunity for NPAs to ask questions, make proposals and ultimately be able to play their role as NPA representative within their organisation with confidence.

Another topic discussed this year is the possibility of adding a new chapter "Design of Experiments" to the Ph. Eur. work programme. The Ph. Eur. is already active in the field of chemometrics, a discipline that relies on mathematical, statistical and other formal numerical methods together with computer science. Several chapters in this area have already been published in the Ph. Eur. The purpose of this agenda item is to discuss, in a collegial manner, the merits of developing another chapter while striking a balance between the resources needed for its elaboration and its expected benefits for users of the Ph. Eur. As always, the final decision on whether or not to add a topic to the Ph. Eur. work programme rests with the Ph. Eur. Commission, which is the sole decision-making body for the Ph. Eur. However, thanks to the elements collected during the discussion at this meeting, the Commission will be able to take a well-informed decision.

In the same spirit, other subjects of strategic importance were added to the agenda, such as the principles for the elaboration of monographs on medicinal products containing chemically defined active substances or the suppression from the Ph. Eur. of the monograph on Gonadotrophin, equine serum, for veterinary use (0719). The results of the discussions will undoubtedly help the Commission to take the best possible decision at a forthcoming session or to determine what additional steps need to be taken to prepare such a decision.

Guidelines on upholding equality and protecting against discrimination and hate during the Covid-19 pandemic and similar crises in the future

On 5 May 2021, the Committee of Ministers adopted Guidelines on upholding equality and protecting against discrimination and hate during the Covid-19 pandemic and similar crises in the future, which had been prepared by the Steering Committee on Anti-Discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI).

The Committee of Ministers stressed the importance of establishing effective structures and procedures to manage crises and their specific impact on disadvantaged groups and equality in a swift and inclusive way. In doing so, member states should respect the European Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments and take into account the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and other European or international human rights instruments, as well as the recommendations of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

The Guidelines focus on information, protection, access to services and benefits, combating hate speech and violence, prevention of discrimination, digitalisation and artificial intelligence. They invite member states to take measures, such as to:

  • maintain an active and continuous dialogue with vulnerable groups throughout the crisis, involve them in creating crisis-related measures and policies and ensure their concerns are reflected in the decision-making processes.
  • ensure that persons belonging to vulnerable groups have, on an equal footing with others, effective access to healthcare, including available vaccines.
  • ensure that all children including those belonging to vulnerable groups continue to access adequate schooling.
  • provide all persons belonging to vulnerable groups with access to housing with good hygiene standards and which enables them to respect health-related rules and recommendations.
  • take adequate measures to protect employees, including those belonging to vulnerable groups, who are particularly exposed to the dangers of the crisis on their way to work and at their workplace.
  • focus on preventing and combating violence against persons belonging to vulnerable groups, including hate crime, domestic and gender-based violence and provide victims with the necessary psychological, social and legal support, particularly by ensuring the availability of hotlines and enough places in well-functioning shelters.
  • take adequate measures to ensure that the digital tools developed to deal with the pandemic are not discriminatory against persons belonging to vulnerable groups or otherwise violate their rights.

The explanatory memorandum to the guidelines and a compilation of promising and good practices provide a set of good practices from various member states that can be used by other member states to implement the guidelines, improve their responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and enhance their preparedness for future crises.

Central, regional and local authorities, together with Equality Bodies and National Human Rights Institutions, have an essential role in implementing these guidelines.

Finally, in times of crisis, Equality Bodies, legal aid structures and other institutions tasked with supporting victims of discrimination, violence and other rights violations should continue providing personal support and legal advice and assistance to secure their rights. The judiciary should continue to oversee the legality of the executive’s action, including emergency measures that could have discriminatory effects or otherwise violate the rights of persons belonging to vulnerable groups.

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Intercultural Cities

On 3 May the Intercultural Cities programme launched its virtual journey accross the diversity of member cities through the Campaign “Feel Diversity, revive your senses”.  Organised to mark the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development – 21 June 2021, the ICC campaign will run for three weeks and culminate with the release of an interactive map to explore urban diversity in Europe and beyond #ICCities #CelebrateDiversity

Link to the Campaign toolkit

On 4 May, Melton (Australia) virtually hosted the coordination meeting of the Intercultural Cities Australasian Network which was attended by the cities of Maribyrnong, Ballarat, Salisbury Councils, Hamamatsu City and an expert from Meiji University in Tokyo.  Aside from coordination and exchange of information on member cities’ plans, participants started the preparatory work for the forthcoming edition of the Australian Intercultural Summit that, this year, should also involve ICC members from Japan and South Korea.          

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On 18-20 May 2021, the Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF) held its 3rd plenary meeting in an online format. The Committee examined the first draft of the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027) with the view of its submission for adoption by the Committee of Ministers by 31 December 2021, as well as the progress in the implementation of the CDENF terms of reference and future priorities for its work for 2022-2025. The Committee also had a fruitful exchange of views with, Mr Asmundur Einar Dadasson, the Minister of Social Affairs and Children of Iceland on the Act on Integration of Services in the Interest of Children’s Prosperity and on the Dashboard on Children’s well-being.

Ad hoc European Committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency (CAHAMA)

The 53rd meeting of the Ad hoc European Committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency (CAHAMA) was held online on 10-11 May 2021, welcoming delegates from 41 of the 50 States Parties to the European Cultural Convention, as well as all four observer institutions. The delegates agreed the European positions on the agenda items of the upcoming online meetings of the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board that will take place on 20-21 May 2021, as well as the subsequent circular votes of the WADA Foundation Board. The mandate for the 6 European representatives in the Executive Committee and Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will be approved by written procedure on 18 May 2021.

Meeting with the Albanian authorities on the implementation of the Anti-Doping Convention of the Council of Europe

On 7 May 2021, high-level experts of the Anti-Doping Convention (T-DO) and World Ant-Doping Agency (WADA) management representatives, held a meeting with M. Evis Kushi, Minister of Education, Sport and Youth, as well as other government and sport authority representatives from Albania to discuss the development of the national anti-doping programme in Albania. During a fruitful and constructive discussion an agreement was reached on the required actions to implement the Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention and the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code. The Council of Europe and WADA expressed their readiness to support Albania, while Albanian authorities confirmed their commitment to provide the necessary resources to strengthen their anti-doping programme.


Bosnia improves minority rights protection

Council of Europe experts have helped develop a methodology to foster engagement of Bosnia and Herzegovina institutions in promoting and protecting rights of minorities, in line with the standards of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. This new tool improves the capacities of institutions to develop criteria and qualitative/quantitative indicators on rights of national minorities, for better identifying forms of disadvantages they face in the country. The cooperation in this respect is part of the joint European Union/Council of Europe action “Promotion of diversity and equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. More information is available here.

New videos launched by the ‘I Choose Equality’ Campaign in Georgia

As part of the ongoing campaign ‘I Choose Equality’ two new video series were launched. In the first series ‘Stereotypes vs. reality’, members of the community often effected by prejudices and/or hate speech unpack the common myths themselves. The first video shows members of the LGBTI community, the second Persons with Disabilities. The campaign is part of the project ‘Fighting Discrimination, hate crime and hate speech in Georgia’ funded by Danish Neighbourhood Programme in Georgia (DANEP).

New report on the responses to hate speech in the Republic of Moldova

The report is the result of a project to use systemic analysis to map how members of society are impacted by hate speech and the redress available to them. This analysis is not restricted to legal redress but attempts to encompass all possible responses as outlined in ECRI GPR No. 15  on Combating hate speech, for example self-regulatory procedures, public condemnation, victim support and educational responses. By breaking down a system into its component pieces and studying how those component parts work and interact to accomplish their purpose helps identify gaps, challenges. The report includes proposals for future actions from stakeholders and a possible roadmap for their implementation.

European Heritage Strategy for the 21st Century

The ST21 MooC and its 10 modules will soon be available for testing (BETA phase of the project). A promotional launch is planned for the plenary session of the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP) on 18 June, including an introductory trailer video that will provide a step by step overview of the MooC and its proposed actions for creating, developing and improving the quality of heritage management practices.

Wider dissemination campaigns – in member States, among observers to the CDCPP and other stakeholders, partner networks and associations – will be set up in the second half of 2021, to promote the use of dedicated courses (offered either as a whole package or individual modules) for local, regional and central government.

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Poland signs the Faro Convention

Polish Ambassador Jerzy Baurski signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention) on 10 May, in the presence of the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe. This latest signature brings the total number to seven, in addition to the 21 member States that have already ratified the Convention. Poland’s signature should further encourage citizen engagement in cultural heritage management and the development of additional bottom-up initiatives in this domain, as illustrated in a recent study.

Recognition of Refugees' qualification

On 4 May, an online event on “The fair recognition of refugees´ qualification: a tool for better integration” was organised under the auspices of the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to describe the German experience with assessments of refugees’ qualifications that cannot be fully documented, based on the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees (EQPR) methodology and on already existing legal frameworks and procedures in Germany. The event was organised in co-operation with the Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany and the UNHCR.

European Youth Foundation report of activities 2020 just published!

The European Youth Foundation (EYF) annual report provides data and statistics on the activities of the youth activities supported by the Foundation and support measures run by the EYF in 2020. The embedment of the EYF in the youth sector’s co-managed governing structure ensures that the EYF grants are directed towards real needs and pressing concerns of youth civil society. The EYF seeks to be more than a donor: it offers financial support, advice and training to youth NGOs, online and in member states; it organises information sessions and monitors the implementation of supported projects.

In April, the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the EYF to launch a special call for pilot activities responding to local needs arising from the crisis. There was a 13% increase in youth organisations registered with the EYF and subsequently a 71% rise in pilot project applications, as compared to 2019.

Overall, in 2020 the work of the EYF was profoundly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic: youth organisations awarded with a grant frequently experienced difficulties in implementing their projects. The EYF kept in touch with youth organisations and offered a consultancy service to assist organisations with an EYF grant in making the necessary adaptations to their planned activities.

The EYF Secretariat took part in sixteen international events and provided information on grant opportunities and co-operation with over 250 international youth NGOs and 1000 youth workers.

The 2020 annual report provides information about the type and geographical spread of the EYF’s partner NGOs, a breakdown on the relevance for programme orientations and focus themes and of the budget spent per youth sector priority and examples of projects and activities implemented in 2020.

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First analysis of the exceptionally high number of film co-production projects (more than one hundred) submitted at the second call for projects of 2021 was completed on 11 May. External dramaturgy experts are now working to further assess the scripts.  In view of the large number of projects the Co-production Working Groups composed of national representatives have been reorganised to rationalise and streamline examination of the applications at a hybrid meeting to be held in June.

A meeting of the Cinemas Working Group was held online on 11 May to analyse the programming results for 2020 of the cinema theatres participating in the support scheme. The total supported proposed by the Group was €530,000 which would be paid to 73 cinemas. These recommendations will be adopted by the Board of Management through online voting in order to launch the payments as soon as possible.

As part of the reform package adopted in 2020, the Secretariat launched in April a restricted call for tender for the provision of an IT tool to manage the core aspect of the reform, the use of external experts for the selection of film co-production projects to be supported. The provider was selected and the kick-off meeting took place on 18 May. A first delivery is planned for the end of June.


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In early May, the entire team of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe participated in an online training course on Mainstreaming Gender Equality, Diversity, and Intersectionality, to strengthen their analytical and operational capacity to better integrate intersectional perspectives into all dimensions of their work. The first two sessions covered key concepts and policies related to gender mainstreaming, diversity and intersectionality. This first theoretical introduction was followed by practical and interactive exercises covering strategies to address resistance to gender equality, to promote diversity and inclusion through advocacy and communication, and to apply an integrated intersectional approach to the different stages of the cycle of the projects developed by the North-South Centre. This training was organised by the Council of Europe. It responds to the Council of Europe's Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023, which underlines the importance of achieving gender mainstreaming in all areas of the CoE’s policies and activities.

On 11 May a meeting took place with the core group of young experts who are addressing  intersectional discrimination faced by women and girls in Europe, Middle East and Africa within the women empowerment project “Promoting diversity and equality”. The meeting was an opportunity to update on the latest work of the WE Programme and the project and define the next steps for Key Recommended Actions and the development of an awareness raising campaign on intersectionality. A wide-scale survey on Intersectionality aiming at raising awareness on intersectionality and multiple discrimination is being developed by the core group and will soon be launched.


EPA Cultural Routes

At its Governing Board meeting of 28-29 April 2021, the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes certified five new Cultural Routes as part of the 2020-2021 certification cycle. The following Routes will therefore join the programme from 20 May 2021:

  • Aeneas Route,
  • Alvar Aalto Route – 20th Century Architecture and Design,
  • Cyril and Methodius Route,
  • The European Route D’Artagnan,
  • Iron Age Danube Route.

The Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe programme now counts 45 certified Cultural Routes and more than 3,000 network members, crossing over 60 countries of the Council of Europe member States and beyond.


The 4th Steering Committee meeting of the EU/CoE Joint Programme “Quality Education for All in Montenegro took place on 6 May. The Steering Committee reviewed and approved the overview of progress in implementing the project as well as provided recommendations for the upcoming implementation period.

To further support fair recognition of qualifications giving access to higher education in times of COVID-19, the ENIC and NARIC networks organised a virtual round table on Access to Higher Education in times of COVID-19 on 4 May. Moderated by the CoE, the roundtable gathered around 60 recognition centres

The Bureau of the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe met online on 11 May to prepare the Governing Board meeting scheduled to take place on 4 and 7 June.


Strengthening Democratic Citizenship Education

Two on-line trainings on the CoE Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC) were organised in Tirana on 6 and 7 May 2021 within the framework of the project “Strengthening Democratic Citizenship Education in Albania” funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The trainings aimed at building the capacity of civil society organisations representatives, school mentors and education experts in developing students’ democratic competences in accordance with the ongoing education reform in Albania and with the RFCDC.

Inclusion in Education

Teachers in Kosovo* participating in training on Inclusive education offered within the framework of the joint EU/CoE project "Building Capacity for Inclusion in Education - INCLUDE" will now receive accredited certificates. The programme was originally developed by the UNICEF regional office for the Western Balkans and was adapted and broadened for the needs of teachers in Kosovo by the INCLUDE project. The programme was accredited by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation for a period of two years. At least 200 teachers from the 50 pilot schools will be trained by the end of 2023.

Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture.

Two Portfolios of Competences for Democratic Culture (a standard version and a version for young learners aged up to 10-11 years) have been published. The Portfolios support learners in reflecting critically on their developing competences and in thinking about how they will develop their competences further. Accompanied by a guide for teachers, the Portfolios also provide evidence about a learner’s proficiency which may be used for assessment. The Portfolios are intended for use in schools to help implement the Council of Europe’s Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture.

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The Advisory Council on Youth’s message on Europe Day

On 9 May, Europe Day, the members of the Advisory Council on Youth registered a message to celebrate the founding of the Council of Europe and to welcome the continuous efforts of its member States to adhere to the values of Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of law. They also underlined the fact that the Organisation puts youth on top of its agenda, and that through its youth programmes, young people contribute to the promotion of European citizenship and European values.

Watch the video ›

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

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