Council of Europe - Amélie de Montchalin’s participation in the Committee of Ministers (Helsinki, 16-17 May 2019)

Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will take part in the meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Helsinki from May 16-17.

The ministerial meeting will be marked by the handing over of the presidency of the Council of Europe between Finland and France on the afternoon of May 17. The minister of state will present the priorities of the French presidency:

1) to preserve and consolidate the European system for the protection of human rights. The French presidency will continue the work initiated by the previous presidencies to preserve the independence and authority of the European Court of Human Rights and to give it the means to function in an ever more effective manner. A conference of the heads of the supreme courts will take place on the topic of dialogue between judges, at the invitation of the Constitutional Council, the Court of Cassation and the Council of State. The French presidency will also work to strengthen the European system for the protection of social rights.

2) to promote equality and coexistence, to combat racism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination, including on the Internet. France has launched a campaign to promote the Istanbul Convention on violence against women in order to promote the accession of the largest possible number of states. The French presidency will also spearhead a project to establish a watchdog to monitor the teaching of history in Europe.

3) to address new human rights and rule of law challenges. Digital tools and the development of artificial intelligence open up new opportunities for citizens and defendants. But they also pose a threat to the enjoyment of rights and freedoms and require us to take all necessary precautions. The Council of Europe is taking action in this area, notably thanks to the adoption of an ethics charter. In this context, our presidency will foster the development, within the organization, of a new legal instrument on artificial intelligence. France will also host a conference of European ministers of justice on the topic of “Justice in Europe in the face of digital challenges.”

During its presidency, France will seek to preserve the organization’s cohesion. As President Macron reaffirmed during his meeting with Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland: France “would like Russia to remain in the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe needs Russia, just as Russia and the Russians need the Council of Europe, and this requires these member-state rights to be respected but also that Russia fulfil its obligations to the institution.”

The French presidency will be marked by the solemn celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, on the sidelines of the October session of the Parliamentary Assembly. A new secretary general will also take office during the French presidency.

For more information, please consult France and the Council of Europe