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Directorate General of Democracy
DG II DEMOCRACY NEWSLETTER
Issue 30 – 16 September 2021
IN FOCUS
Impact of Digital Transformation on Democracy and Good Governance: a new study
Impact of Digital Transformation on Democracy and Good Governance: a new study

The European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) prepared a study on the impact of the digital transformation, including artificial intelligence and automated decision-making, on democracy and good governance.

The study explores this impact in the light of the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance, highlighting risks and opportunities of the increasing use of digital technologies in public administration and the public sphere as well as identifying mitigating and enabling factors. The study also provides several examples and case studies from Council of Europe member States.

Overall, the study concludes that in order to harness the potential of digital transformation to strengthen democracy and good governance, governments will need to apply continuous vigilance to identify and address emerging risks. They also need to equip themselves for a cultural change: flexibility, self-evaluation, continuous learning, IT skills will be necessary to enable public officials to use digital technologies effectively and prevent negative consequences.

Read more ›
The European Qualification Passport for Refugees - Training offered for evaluating Afghan refugee credentials
The European Qualification Passport for Refugees - Training offered for evaluating Afghan refugee credentials

More than 90 participants from almost all national recognition centres (ENIC-NARIC offices) in Europe, as well as from Australia, the United States and New Zealand participated in an online training course on evaluating qualifications from Afghan refugees, on Friday 10 September 2021.

The training targeted credentials evaluators currently engaged in the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees (EQPR) but given the urgent need for updated information, the course was made available to all credentials evaluators in the ENIC and NARIC networks.

The training was facilitated by an experienced Dari/Farsi speaking evaluator from the Norwegian ENIC-NARIC (NOKUT) and included information about the education system in Afghanistan, the EQPR and its interview-based methodology, examples of good practices and of challenging cases, as well as a Q&A session. The presentation and recording of the training session are both available.

This training session constituted a first step in building capacity among recognition professionals to facilitate efficient, professional and fair treatment of Afghani qualifications in the coming period.

As a next step, the EQPR will soon launch a Task Force of credentials evaluators professionals among credentials evaluators involved in the EQPR and ENIC-NARIC networks. This Task Force will aim to encourage a mutual learning and exchange of experience and best practices in the evaluation of qualifications from Afghanistan, to gather relevant available information and to develop a responsible plan of action to meet the challenges related to assessment of Afghani qualifications.

In coordination with competent authorities, weekly online evaluation sessions of refugees’ qualifications under the EQPR will also start up again as of the last week of September.

Implemented by the Council of Europe since 2017, the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees enables refugees to have their qualifications assessed even in the absence of a full documentation. The EQPR helps refugees to enter further studies or to seek employment.

The national recognition centres in ArmeniaBosnia and HerzegovinaCanadaFranceGermanyGreeceItaly, the NetherlandsNorwayRomaniaSerbia and the United Kingdom are currently actively participating in the EQPR, and other ENIC-NARICs are welcome to join. For more information, please send an email to: refugees.qualifications@coe.int

Read more ›
DIRECTORATE OF DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION
EVENTS
European Day of Languages
European Day of Languages

In the build-up to the European Day of Languages on 26 September, the ECML has developed further new resources to celebrate its 20th anniversary. These include:

  • 20 ideas for organising EDL events which respect social distancing. This resource offers a wide variety of formats for marking the Day in safe and attractive
  • A poll of the Most effective methods for learning a foreign language which encourages visitors to the homepage to indicate the most successful methods they have used for learning a foreign language - in addition to formal education at school/university. The results of the poll will be announced on 24 September.
  • A Word of the Day feature – running throughout the month of September, highlights a word each day from among Europe’s languages which has a special, unique or just amusing background!
  • The EDL website has been published in Ukrainian and Montenegrin bringing the total number of language versions to 42.
 
European Heritage Days
European Heritage Days

The annual EHD Press release announcing the start of the EHD events across Europe has been published on both the Council of Europe (European Heritage Days 2021 celebrate “Heritage: All Inclusive!” - Newsroom (coe.int) and the European Commission (Daily News 02 / 09 / 2021 (europa.eu)) websites. After a year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the EHD will celebrate the re-opening of heritage sites and will offer everyone an opportunity to meet and share. A wide range of cultural events taking place mostly in September and October in 50 participating countries will include exhibitions, workshops, performances, guided tours and many other activities. 

The Young European #HeritageMakers Competition | European Heritage Days has also been announced. This activity aims to give a real and meaningful voice to children and young people by encouraging and identifying the future Heritage makers of Europe. Inspired by an initiative developed in Finland in 2013, the activity has been recognized by the EHD Assembly as an innovative and sustainable opportunity to engage the youngest both online and in their immediate surroundings. It refers to the stories children and young people will explore and choose to tell as their own interpretation of the heritage sites and objects around them. This is a creative opportunity for the youngest among us to actively explore and promote local cultural and historical landmarks.

Youth work for all – implementing Recommendation CM/rec(2015)3 on the Access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods
Youth work for all – implementing Recommendation CM/rec(2015)3 on the Access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods

The initial training seminar of the Enter! Training for Youth Workers kicked off with 33 participants- youth workers from 23 countries at the European Centre Budapest. In the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, the training seminar supported youth workers to devise projects which put in practice the Committee of Minister’s Enter! Recommendation and Youth Work Recommendation.

The long-term training course (LTTC) aims to equip youth workers with knowledge and skills to provide support and develop joint local approaches that improve the access to social rights for young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. In the framework of the Enter! training, the youth workers will engage and work closely with the Council of Europe in developing and implementing specific youth work projects aimed at improving access to social rights, as well as enhance the recognition, quality and outreach of youth work in member states.

The LTTC comprises two intercultural residential seminars with a practice/project phase in between and supported by an e-learning programme, mentoring and networking opportunities. It takes place from August 2021 to December 2022. During the course each participant will develop a local youth work project based on active participation of young people and addressing specific challenges that young people face in their access to social rights. The projects should be implemented in co-operation with local authorities, public service providers and other stakeholders, to ensure better impact at the local community level

“ABOUT TIME! A reference manual for youth policy from a European perspective”
“ABOUT TIME! A reference manual for youth policy from a European perspective”

The manual gathers knowledge and debates central to the European agenda in the field over the last 15 years. It can help stakeholders to explore, understand and engage with the youth policy framework in their context, from their own perspective, and will provide them with a sense of all the stages of youth policy making. Most importantly, it includes a wide range of standards, tools and resources developed by and for the benefit of youth policy makers, youth work practitioners, youth researchers and young people across Europe.

Read more ›
COMMITTEES, MONITORING, WORKING GROUPS,

Observatory of History Teaching in Europe

The second meeting of the Observatory of History Teaching in Europe Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) took place remotely on 10 September. During this meeting, Ms Chara Makriyianni was unanimously elected Chair of the SAC along with Mr Raul Cârstocea as Vice-chair. The work of the SAC is now in full operation as the members discussed the different stages for preparing the thematic and regular reports of the Observatory. This work will continue at the next meeting which will take place on 18 October.


Youth

The CMJ group charged with drafting a CM recommendation on protecting youth civil society organisations and young people, and supporting their participation in democratic processes, met in a hybrid format on Strasbourg on 8 September 2021. The group gathered two Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) and two members of the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ), as well as representatives of the Conference of INGOs and the European Youth Forum.

The meeting commenced with a welcome by the Director of Democratic Participation, Matjaz Gruden, who emphasized the importance of the draft Recommendation as part of the Youth Department’s multi-pronged efforts to support young people’s access to rights, encourage their participation in democratic life and protect and strengthen youth civic spaces across Europe.

The final draft and its accompanying explanatory memorandum is going to be discussed by the Joint Council of Youth at its forthcoming plenary meeting on 12-13 October 2021.

The Steering group on a future Council of Europe youth campaign finalised, on 9-10 September 2021, the draft proposal for a Council of Europe Youth Campaign for revitalising democracy, in view of its submission to the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ) for decision. The campaign, which will contribute to the implementation of the Youth Sector Strategy 2030, should in principle take place from March to October 2022, with contributions from youth organisations and networks and governmental authorities from local to European level. The campaign should provide an opportunity to discuss inter alia the main challenges facing young people and the contributions they can make to renewing democracy, strengthening youth participation, and managing risks and opportunities arising from digitalisation.

During the meeting, three members of the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) and two members of the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ), along with representatives of the European Youth Forum and the secretariat, discussed key issues such as the thematic focus and objectives of the campaign, its title, the actions and activities to be carried out, as well as the implementing partners.

The Joint Council of Youth will decide on the proposal at its forthcoming plenary meeting on 12-13 October 2021. 

 

EURIMAGES
EURIMAGES

The Secretariat is actively preparing the third and last call for coproduction projects of the year (deadline for producers on September 15). The final selection of projects by the national representatives of the Fund will take place in November.

The Eurimages team participated in the Gap Financing Market (from 3 to 5 September) of the 78th edition of the Venice Film Festival. The annual Conference on Gender Equality was organised in cooperation with the Venice Festival on September 7. Despite some recent progress thanks to national and European initiatives, the panellists confirmed the under-representation of women in the artistic and technical teams of audiovisual projects in Europe and the need for a reinforced action aimed at addressing this gender unbalance in the film industry.

Eurimages enters the last preparatory phase of the conference on drama series organised under the auspices of the Hungarian presidency on September 30 and October 1 in Budapest.

The conference will explore the need for the establishment of a new instrument to preserve cultural diversity in Europe in the face of the hegemony of non-European global platforms (Netflix, Amazon or Disney).

NORTH SOUTH CENTRE

A new webpage was launched during the summer to communicate on the latest developments of the project Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation for the Protection of Women and Girls against Violence (South Programme IV). The new page provides an overview of the 8 different local projects led by civil society organisations to improve protection and support mechanisms for victims/survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in the region. The eight sub-grants of the Regional Grant Scheme foresee more than 30 activities, covering a wide range of topics related to violence, such as raising awareness on economic GBV, empowering and protecting single mothers, creating a unified referral system for victims/survivors of GBV, improving access to justice or promoting journalism good practices and media outreach.

Training for facilitators of online policy dialogue in the youth field
Training for facilitators of online policy dialogue in the youth field

The online Training for facilitators of online policy dialogue in the youth field moved on to its second module on “Principles of participation, engagement in policy processes and the role of a facilitator”. The module counted on the participation of representatives from the Council of Europe  (Congress of Local and Regional Authotiries and DGII-Youth Department) together with an array of experts from other regional and international organisations such as the OECD, the Commonwalth Youth Council, the European Youth Forum, the UNDP and UN-Habitat, the African Union and from the programme Amplifying Leadership of Local Youth in Preventing Violent Extremism in South Asia (ALLY).

PARTIAL AGREEMENT - CULTURAL ROUTES
PARTIAL AGREEMENT - CULTURAL ROUTES



On 5 September, the Secretariat took part in the inauguration of the “Itinerary of the Jewish Heritage of the Upper Town”, that makes visible the traces of Jewish life in Luxembourg City.

 The initiator of this Cultural Route is the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ). The inauguration took place in the Rue de la Congrégation, at the height of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, where a plaque was unveiled, commemorating the first synagogue inaugurated in 1821. The old synagogue stood there until 1895, when the Great Synagogue in Rue Notre-Dame was opened.

The “Itinerary of the Jewish Heritage of the Upper Town” and the plaque were introduced by Mr. François Moyse, President of the AEPJ, followed by speeches by Mr. Franz Fayot, Minister of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affair; Ms. Lydie Polfer, Mayor of Luxembourg; Ms. Sam Tanson, Minister of Culture and Mr. Stefano Dominioni, Executive Secretary of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe and Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes.

 The ceremony also marked the opening of The European Days of Jewish Culture.

EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement (Natural and technological hazards) 

On 7 September 2021 the Executive Secretary participated in the Secretariat meeting preparing the European Forum on Disaster Risk reduction (to be held on 24-26 November 2021 in Matosinhos, Portugal). The aim of the meeting was to discuss: EFDRR programme, EFDRR RoadMap, the EUR-OPA Ministerial Meeting (24 November) and side events.

 Acting on the decisions taken at the 75th CPC meeting, the Secretariat reviewed the proposals for amendments to various documents to be adopted at the EUR-OPA Ministerial Meeting (24 November)  and distributed a revised agenda (and relevant documents) to the Permanent Correspondents, in advance of the 76th CPC meeting which will be held online on 16 September 2021.

COOPERATION ACTIVITIES
Quality Education for all
Quality Education for all

 In the context of the EU/CoE Joint Project “Quality Education for All” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the second Workshop on the Policy Recommendations with a Roadmap for Improving Inclusive Education was held on 7 to 9 September. Members discussed the data and inputs necessary for planning the next activities and based on the information provided, they will prepare a checklist for the implementation with the support of education authorities.

Quality Education for all
Digital Citizenship Education

The Council of Europe’s Back-to-school leaflet is now available! It offers a few practical ideas for students, parents and teachers to face this challenging period, but also on how to make this moment an ideal one to get children thinking about what it means to be a respectful citizen in today's complex on- and off-line world. More languages will be available in the Digital citizenship education platform.

The third edition of Compasito has been published!
The third edition of Compasito has been published!

Compasito is a manual designed to facilitate the practice of human rights education with children. Its primary users are adults active in formal and non-formal education with children. Compasito provides ideas, inspiration and practical help to explore human rights with children. It looks at children as young citizens of the present and as rights-holders who are competent in many issues related to their life. It builds on children’s motivations, experiences and their search for solutions.

In Compasito, children’s rights are presented within the wider context of human rights as a whole. Thus, universal human rights and children’s rights are jointly presented in such a way that by understanding their own rights, children also understand that all human beings have human rights.

The educational process builds on children’s active participation, by which they learn about human rights and understand human rights issues, acquire skills and abilities to be able to defend human rights, and develop attitudes of respect for equality and dignity.

Practitioners of human rights education will find inspiration and practical ideas in this manual to make human rights education a reality for children and for the benefit of our societies.

The third edition of Compasito has been published!
Greening the youth sector: a sustainability checklist!

The Council of Europe youth sector is contributing to the process of “thinking green” by creating a framework that makes it easy for participants in educational activities to make environmentally conscious choices.

In this new podcast episode of Under30’, Pegah Moulana, chair of the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ) task force on greening the youth sector, and Neringa Tuménaité, author of the Youth Partnership’s Sustainability checklist, reflect on the need to take ecological steps in our activities as a small contribution to combating the climate crisis.

Listen to the new episode on the Partnership’s website and on different podcast platforms. If you would like to know more about the topic, watch the webinar on Greening the youth sector: sustainability checklist.

DIRECTORATE OF ANTI DISCRIMINATION
EVENTS
"Romatopia” - Roma talk about their Utopia for Europe
"Romatopia” - Roma talk about their Utopia for Europe

Romatopia is a new series of podcasts in which Roma from 12 countries talk about their lives and their utopia for Europe. Artists, activists and academics in conversation with the hosts William Bila and Isabel Raabe.

“Romatopia” presents Roma not as problems but as role models for the "idea of Europe". Listeners learn about cohesion, social permeability, cultural richness, and transnational unity despite national characteristics. They hear inspiring ideas and future scenarios for Europe.

“Romatopia” is supported by the German Federal Agency for Civic Education and the Council of Europe Roma and Travellers Team and is available here and on podcast platforms such as Spotify or Apple podcast.

Read more ›
National Minorities and Minority Languages
 Péter Sztáray, State Secretary, Hungary, and Hallvard Gorseth, Head of Anti-Discrimination Department, Council of Europe
National Minorities and Minority Languages

A conference on “The role of NGOs and research institutes in promoting Council of Europe norms and standards on national minority rights” co-organised by the Hungarian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers and the Division of National Minorities and Minority Languages of the Council of Europe was held in the European Youth Centre of Budapest on 7 September.

The objective of the event was to discuss the contribution of civil and non-governmental organisations, as well as research institutes, in promoting the international standards of the protection of national minorities and the norms and standards of the Council of Europe in particular. The conference was opened by Péter Sztáray, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, and Hallvard Gorseth, Head of the Anti-Discrimination Department of the Council of Europe. During the three panel discussions of the conference, representatives from non-governmental organisations and civil society, as well as experts from various research institutes and representatives of national minority youth, with a broad range of experience on particular areas, expressed their views on the role and opportunities of international organisations in protecting national minorities in the current new challenges.

 The latest deliverable of the Steering Committee on Anti-Discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI), the Study on the active political participation of national minority youth in Council of Europe member states was presented at this conference by a CDADI member and the youth representatives having contributed to its drafting. The Study and its recommendations will serve as a basis for the future work of the CDADI on national minorities.

Portugal signs the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
Ambassador Gilberto Jerónimo, Permanent Representative of Portugal, and Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Portugal signs the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

On 7 September 2021, the Permanent Representative of Portugal to the Council of Europe, in the presence of the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in Strasbourg. The signing is to be followed by Portugal’s ratification of the Charter. The Charter will enter into force in Portugal after the deposit of the ratification instrument at the Council of Europe.

The Charter has been ratified by 25 states. A further nine states have now signed, but not yet ratified it. The Council of Europe regularly encourages states to ratify the Charter, which is the only treaty worldwide devoted to the promotion of traditional regional or minority languages.

INTERCULTURAL CITIES
INTERCULTURAL CITIES

Release of the ICC Policy brief on Circular and Intercultural Cities: On 30 August the Intercultural Cities programme released the Policy Brief on “Circular and Intercultural Cities”. Circular economy is an economic model where value is generated through continuous circulation of resources, with consideration for the planetary boundaries, and formulation of solutions from a systems and human-centric design perspective. However, although circular initiatives can have social benefits, these are not a given. The ICC Policy brief on “Circular and Intercultural Cities” is a resource that cities can use to learn how best to integrate the agendas of interculturalism and green development through the lens of the circular economy concept. The Policy brief is available into English, French, Italian and Spanish and was publicly presented during a Webinar on “Including migrants and diversity in circular and green economic models” that took place online on 16 September. The Policy brief and the webinar are part of a more extensive project of the Intercultural Cities programme on Sustainable intercultural cities. More information here.

Intercultural Cities Academy on Narratives: new training tools available in French: On 2 September the Intercultural Cities programme published the French versions of the policy brief “Migration and integration - Which alternative narratives work and why” (FR here), and of the Toolkit: ”Claiming the power of dialogue - Toolkit for antirumours dialogue”, (FR here). Both tools are part of the wider Intercultural Cities Academy on Alternative Narratives and Intercultural Communication. This is a training course designed in both in-person and online formats to increase the capacity of practitioners and policy makers to adopt a more proactive political communication, new channels to share their intercultural message, as well as to get new ideas on how to integrate the message of inclusion into their everyday communication.

 

COMMITTEES, MONITORING, WORKING GROUPS


The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities conducted its visit to Norway and Germany at the end of August, and to Slovakia from 6-10 September as part of the 5th monitoring cycle. The delegations met with representatives of national minorities, state and local authorities, human rights institutions and academia.

CDENF

On 16-17 September 2021, the CDENF held a Plenary session on children in migration. Ambassador Drahoslav Štefánek, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, presented the Council of Europe Action Plan on protecting vulnerable persons in the context of migration and asylum in Europe (2021-2025). Furthermore, the CDENF examined a Draft Recommendation on Human Rights Principles and Implementing Guidelines on age assessment for children in migration, together with its Explanatory Memorandum, and a Draft Explanatory Memorandum of Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)11 on Effective guardianship for unaccompanied and separated children in the context of migration.

Sport Conventions 

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

CAHAMA, at its 54th meeting held on 6-7 September 2021 (online), agreed to recommend to the Committee of Ministers to designate:

Ms Roxana Maracineanu, Minister responsible for Sports of France – as the European representative to the Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for 2022-2024, and

E. Mr Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu, Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Turkey – as the second member of the WADA Foundation Board appointed by the Council of Europe for 2022-24. 


First meeting of the Bureau of the Monitoring Committee of the Macolin Convention

The Bureau of the Follow-Up Committee of the Macolin Convention on the manipulation of sports competitions was held on 9 September, under the chairmanship of Mr George Mavrotas, Secretary General of Sport of Greece and President of the Greek National Platform for Sports Integrity.

Discussions included the Committee's 2022-2025 Action plan, recent developments regarding ratifications and signatures of the Macolin Convention and the preparation of the list of sport organisations to be covered by the Convention, as well as consideration of the elements of the monitoring mechanism.

The Follow-Up Committee will meet in plenary session on 11-12 October to further advance the abovementioned issues. 

EPAS - ENLARGED PARTIAL AGREEMENT FOR SPORT



On 6 and 7 September 2021, EPAS secretariat participated in the meeting of the Integration of Refugees through Sport (IRTS) network platform organised in Rome (Italy). Coordinated by the International Sport and Culture Organisation (ISCA) and funded by the European Commission, the Integration of Refugees through Sport (IRTS) project brings together the main organisations active in this field and aims to facilitate the integration of refugees through sport and physical activity in their communities.

The Executive Secretary presented EPAS’ work in this field and reiterated EPAS' support to IRTS which focuses on:

  1. How to make IRTS project results sustainable?
  2. How can the knowledge developed in this area be shared with ministries of sport, so that they can use the potential of sport in the framework of national integration strategies for migrants?

COOPERATION ACTIVITIES
Juvenile Justice

In the first half of September, the new joint EU/CoE project “Improving the Juvenile Justice System and Strengthening the Education and Training of Penitentiary Staff” in Slovenia initiated its inception phase. The Children’s Rights Division is in charge of implementing Component I of the project, which aims to improve the juvenile criminal justice system through new legislation and policies that are in line with European standards and good practices. During the inception phase, consultation and coordination meetings will be held with national counterparts and relevant stakeholders, as well as with EU DGREFORM to finetune the workplan of activities. The kick-off and first Steering Committee meetings are scheduled to take place in the second half of October.

 

Combating violence against children in Ukraine

On 6-7 September 2021, the Council of Europe project Combat Violence against Children in Ukraine, brought together 22 representatives of the National Police of Ukraine to an online training regarding "Investigative Interviewing of Children”, based on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Investigative Interview Protocol. The Guidelines were prepared with the support of the Council of Europe experts and aim at improving interviewing proceedings involving children in accordance with the provisions of the Lanzarote Convention and other European standards on child-friendly justice. They will be distributed to key professionals with the support of the National Police.

EndOCSEA@Europe

On 9 September 2021, the Council of Europe Project “End Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse @ Europe” (EndOCSEA@Europe), published the second edition of the Baseline Mapping of member state responses to prevent and combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse. The mapping contains an updated analysis of the situation in member states in particular, in the context of COVID-19, against the benchmark set by the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention) and the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest Convention), as well as selected capabilities identified in the WePROTECT Global Alliance Model National Response (MNR). The report concludes with a series of concrete recommendations for states and stakeholders working towards ending online child sexual exploitation and abuse, grouped in three thematic areas: prevention, detection and response.

EndOCSEA@Europe
Combating violence against children in the Republic of Moldova

The Council of Europe project Combat Violence against Children in the Republic of Moldova organised two face-to-face training sessions based on the Kiko and the Hand Manual for kindergarten teachers (Chisinău, 8-9 September/14-15 September) with 16 participants each. The trainings contributed to improving the skills of professionals to detect and prevent child sexual abuse, providing them with tools to engage with children, parents and kindergarten administration to achieve lasting results.

Barnahus Slovenia
Barnahus Slovenia

On 13 September 2021, the Slovenia Barnahus project provided the Slovenian authorities with a comprehensive report on the physical premises of the Barnahus in Ljubljana which was prepared following extensive consultations with around 35 children aged 6-18 who offered their perspective on how to make the Barnahus in Ljubljana as child-friendly and safe as possible. They were consulted regarding the accessibility of the building, the interior environment, the reception, and the set-up of the waiting, interview, observation, medical and therapy rooms. The consultations were conducted in line with the National Guidelines for Barnahus in Slovenia (2018) and UNICEF’s Procedure for ethical standards in research, evaluation and analysis (2015).The report will be used to finalise the renovations of the Barnahus building according to child-friendly practices and taking into consideration the children’s views.

ROMACTED2 - ALBANIA

EU-CoE Joint Programme “Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at local level (ROMACTED2)” held training sessions on ‘Responsive budgeting for Roma and Egyptian minorities as well as monitoring and evaluation of local action plans’ in Albania

Two training sessions on ′Responsive budgeting for Roma and Egyptian minorities and monitoring and evaluation of local action plans′ were organised from 7-10 September 2021 in the municipalities of Gjirokastra and Pogradec in Albania in the framework of the European Union/Council of Europe Joint Programme “Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at local level (ROMACTED2)” alongside the Albanian School of Public Administration (ASPA). The events gathered municipal officials responsible for programming, social services, budgeting and finance from the ROMACTED2 partner municipalities Cerrik, Elbasan, Fier, Gjirokaster, Korca, Lushnje, Permet, Pogradec, Roskovec, and Vlora. The purpose of the training sessions was to increase the capacity of municipal staff to apply responsive budgeting, monitoring and evaluation principles to local action plans for the integration of Roma and Egyptian minorities.

Call for grants for civil society organisations providing support to victims of discrimination in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine


Under the framework of the European Union/Council of Europe joint programme Partnership for Good Governance, and its regional project "Strengthening access to justice through non-judicial redress mechanisms for victims of discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes in the Eastern Partnership countries", the Council of Europe is launching a call for proposals with the aim to co-fund national and local projects in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine focusing at supporting victims of discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes, particularly from vulnerable groups. The deadline for submissions is 3 October 2021, and more information can be found here.

DIRECTORATE OF HUMAN DIGNITY, EQUALITY AND GOVERNANCE
EVENTS
Budapest Conference on Cross-Border Cooperation:  Council of Europe standards and tools can strengthen cooperation and build resilience in border communities.
Budapest Conference on Cross-Border Cooperation: Council of Europe standards and tools can strengthen cooperation and build resilience in border communities.
HUNGARIAN PRESIDENCY

Cross-border and inter-territorial cooperation are essential to sustaining and promoting peace, prosperity, and stability in Europe.  Participants at the Conference on Cross-border Cooperation organised under the Hungarian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Budapest on 9-10 September 2021 acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic served to emphasise how interconnected and interdependent European states are and that more needs to be done to promote such cooperation based on the Council of Europe tools.

High-level officials and senior experts in the field of cross-border cooperation from several Council of Europe member states discussed the importance of cross-border cooperation in the context of pressing societal issues such as widening social and economic inequalities, environmental degradation, resilience and crisis management, and the backsliding of democracy.

In the Conclusions of the Conference, participants called on the Council of Europe to continue to support wider ratification of the Madrid Outline Convention and its additional protocols and invited the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance to pursue development and implementation of relevant capacity-building tools.  Cross-border cooperation can help strengthen good democratic governance and enable communities to build resilience to the extraordinary challenges faced by border regions in Europe today.

COMMITTEES, BOARDS,WORKING GROUPS

CDDG - Draft Recommendation on Accountability of elected officials and bodies at local and regional level

 The European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) is pursuing its work on the draft Recommendation on Accountability of elected officials and bodies at local and regional level. The CDDG’s working group entrusted with this task (GT-RE) met on 13 September for the last time, to finalise the draft. The Recommendation aims at providing guidelines for the establishment of accountability frameworks based on a principle of symmetry between the logic of election and the accountability relationship. It also contains general principles, definitions, and guidelines on scrutiny mechanisms, guarantees against the abusive use of sanctioning mechanisms, civil participation, aspects of corporate governance, audit and policy evaluation, transparency, access to information, and awareness-raising. In addition, a separate Study on Accountability has been prepared to illustrate various aspects of this important principle of good democratic governance. The CDDG is expected to proceed with the final adoption of the draft recommendation at its 14th plenary meeting on 29-30 November 2021.    

Access to Justice for Women
Access to Justice for Women

Eleven members of the SYNERGY Network against Gender-based and Domestic violence have successfully completed a 6-module training course on Access to Justice for Women in August 2021. The course was provided by the Council of Europe in order to support EEA/Norway Grants' efforts to combat violence against women and domestic violence, in line with European standards including the Istanbul Convention.

The course ran for three months with participants from Bulgaria, France, Greece, Lithuania, Norway, Romania and Slovakia, facilitated by a specially trained HELP Tutor from Italy. Participants included civil servants, judges, lawyers, psychologists and independent consultants tasked with addressing the issue of violence against women.

The Council of Europe cooperates under the EEA/Norway Grants as an International Partner Organisation and is the main international partner of the SYNERGY Network against Gender-based and Domestic Violence.

Action against Trafficking in Human Beings

The Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) carried out an evaluation visit to Armenia from 6 to 10 September 2021, as part of the third evaluation round of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. During the visit, the GRETA delegation held consultations with Mr Mher Grigoryan, Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Tatevik Stepanyan and Mr Suren Sargsyan, Deputy Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs, Mr Armen Ghazaryan, Head of the Migration Service, as well as officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Health and Labour Inspectorate, and the National Security Service. The GRETA delegation also met Mr Arman Tatoyan, the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia, and members of the National Assembly. The GRETA delegation held separate meetings with representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), independent anti-trafficking experts, lawyers and victims of human trafficking. In the course of the visit, GRETA visited a specialised shelter for victims of human trafficking in Yerevan, run by the NGO “Democracy Today”, and the Child and Family Support Centre of Lori Region in Vanadzor.

 Furthermore, GRETA carried out an evaluation visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina from 6-10 September 2021, as part of the third evaluation round of the Convention. During the visit, the GRETA delegation held consultations with the State Ministries of Security, Human Rights and Refugees, Justice, and Foreign Affairs, as well as representatives of law enforcement, the Prosecutors’ Office and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The GRETA delegation also met with relevant ministries and agencies in Republika Srpska, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Brčko District. The visit was an opportunity to meet representatives of the newly established local co-ordination teams for combating trafficking in human beings. The GRETA delegation held separated meetings with representatives of specialised non-governmental organisations, victims of human trafficking and lawyers. In the course of the visit, the GRETA delegation visited the Ušivak Temporary Reception Centre for migrants, including unaccompanied children, in the Hadžići Municipality.  

 In Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of the Horizontal Facility project “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings,” a report on the phenomenon of child trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina was published.

 In Turkey, five municipalities (Adiyaman, Akcakale, Arsuz, Izmir and Kecioren) received grants as of 1 September 2021 to implement awareness-raising activities on child trafficking and trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation, as part of the Programme Horizontal Facility II Western Balkans and Turkey.

Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
GRETA delegation in Armenia
Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
GRETA delegation in Bonsia and Herzegovina
EDQM - THE EUROPEAN DIRECTORATE FOR THE QUALITY OF MEDICINES & HEALTHCARE
Celebrations for the European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation will start soon!
Celebrations for the European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation will start soon!

Organ, tissue and cell transplantation is one of the great medical success stories of modern times. In many cases, it is the only life-saving treatment for end-stage organ failure. This year, celebrations for the European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation (EODD), on 9 October 2021, will take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

EODD is an opportunity not only to discuss and reflect on the importance of the donation and transplantation of organs, tissues and cells, but also to thank donors, their families and the health professionals involved. Since 1996, EODD has contributed to the steady increase in the number of donors in Europe, but there is still a long way to go to meet the growing demand for transplants.

Once again, on the occasion of EODD, the EDQM calls on everyone throughout Europe to consider organ donation and make their wishes known to their loved ones.

Organ donation concerns each and every one of us, and we can all make a difference to improve the situation of patients on waiting lists: one single donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and save or improve more than 100 lives through tissue and cell donation.

 

Join the online campaign and show your support!

Visit the EODD 2021 web page and take a look at EDQM Facebook page (@EDQMCouncilofEurope) and EDQM Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/edqm_news).

Annual Meeting of the European Network of Official Medicines Control Laboratories

The 26th annual meeting of the European Network of Official Medicines Control Laboratories (OMCLs) took place from 6 to 10 September 2021. It was held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic situation. The meeting, organised by EDQM, was attended by more than 500 participants from 42 countries over the course of the week.

The increasing complexity of chemical and biological analytical techniques requires the investment in new and often costly equipment. This is why a number of network activities are conducted in specialised centres and over time specific networks and working groups have been established. Throughout the week, examples of specialised testing activities were presented and discussed including the use of cell-based potency assays, for which an increase of capacities will become necessary due to the growing number of registered biological products such as monoclonal antibodies. The network also reviewed potential needs for independent control testing of gene therapy products, a group of products with growing relevance in the European markets, and agreed to foster this initiative subject to necessary investments in equipment and human resources.

Other specialised activities addressed in several contributions during the Annual Meeting week were the OMCLs’ efforts in the determination of potential mutagenic contaminants such as nitrosamines and other compounds in medicines and the Official Control Authority Batch Release (OCABR) of COVID-19 vaccines, which allowed these essential new medicines to reach the European market without delay, while assuring their high quality by means of independent batch-to-batch testing in an official control laboratory.

Despite the strain of the pandemic situation and the extra workload, the laboratories of the network maintained the level of regular official batch release of other biological products and market surveillance activities and contributed to the protection of public and animal health in Europe and beyond thanks to effective contingency planning.

Other topics discussed at the general session of the annual meeting were examples of regional work and resource sharing, one of the key principles of the network. Participants at the annual meeting also learned about the activities of the newly formed Post-Marketing Risk Assessment Tool Working Group (EU Heads of Medicines Agencies) carried out in support of prioritising market surveillance testing activities in Europe. This multidisciplinary group aims at extending risk assessment of products to factors arising after introduction of products on the market.

In reaction to the pandemic situation, the peer audit programme (Mutual Joint Audits) of the network has been transformed until further notice into full remote audits which helped all OMCL members to become ISO 17025:2017 compliant by early 2021. This guarantees that OMCL network members are operating under a highly exacting and harmonised quality system.

Representatives from the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) participated as observers for the first time in the human vaccine OCABR session thanks to a memorandum of understanding signed in 2020, clearly indicating the global relevance and attractiveness of the OMCL network’s activities.

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