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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE/EU Top Officers to EF: Social Rights +New EU Health Commissioner Kyriakides =New Pillar Synergy?

CoE/EU Top Officers to EF: Social Rights +New EU Health Commissioner Kyriakides =New Pillar Synergy?

Written by ACM
Thursday, 19 September 2019

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*Strasbourg/CoE+EU Parliament/Angelo Marcopolo/- The 1st Official Visit to EU Parliament by New EU Health Commissioner designate, Stella Kyriakides, by a Timely Coincidence, this Same Week in Strasbourg that CoE hold here a Seminar to Boost Social Charter's Rights, an area where she has notoriously worked as an Expert for Decades in the Past, and includes important Health Issues, naturally Triggered many Interesting reactions by several Top CoE or EU Officers in charge of such activities, that some consider as a Key part of Human Rights, while Also being a very Topical matter in the Fight against Poverty and Discrimination/UnEquality, as well as for EU's much Needed Cohesion, as "Eurofora" found in the spontaneous Replies that they kindly gave to our relevant Questions, (See Infra).

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Both Events had been placed, from the outset, at the Highest Level, since it's in order to Meet with the New President of EU Parliament, David Sassoli from Italy, that Kyriakides had come to Strasbourg, (a former President of CoE's Parliamentary Assembly herself, after Chairing its Social/Health affairs Committee, as MEP from Cyprus: Comp. f.ex. her Replies to "Eurofora" Questions in her quality as PACE President at http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newpacepresidentkyriakidestoeurofora.html, etc), while the above-mentioned PanEuropean Seminar on CoE's Social Charter's boost was Organised by the French Presidency of the CoE (May - November 2019), and was opened by the experienced CoE's Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, also from Italy, together with the Chairman-in-office of CoE's Ministerial Committee (its Highest Political body), the French Ambassador/Permanent Representative Jean-Baptiste Mattei.

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 Stella Kyriakides had arrived to Strasbourg, at EU Parliament, with her Team already since Monday Evening, and met Sassoli on Tuesday, i.e., just 1,5 Day Before COE's Seminar on Social Rights starts on Thursday Morning.

- Speaking to "Eurofora" shortly afterwards, CoE's Chairman Mattei mainly pointed to the Fact that European Countries as France and Portugal, who are reportedly among the First to have Ratified All CoE's Social Rights' Charter's legal istruments, (including the New procedure of Monitoring also by Collective Applications, f.ex. of relevant International NGOs, etc.), should be Joined also by Other Countries ASAP, while Boosting CoE's "Torino Strategy", decided a few Years ago, and refurbished at the Latest, May 2019, CoE's Ministerial Summit in Helsinki, Finland, in Addition to Developing, in parallel, Nowadays, CoE-EU Cooperation.

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+ From CoE's point of view, in this Seminar (prepared Together with Strasbourg University's "Carré de Malberg" Center of Research on Public Law, but also with the Participation of several relevant International NGOs, in addition to other independent Experts and Government Representatives), as Main Reasons to Act More Vigorously Now for elementary Social Rights, were given, in the Debates, particularly the recent Problem of an allegedly Growing "Poverty" and/or "InEquality", aggravated by a Socio-Political Exploitation from so-called "Populist" Movements (sometimes Hostile to EU Integration) Nowadays.

coes_social_rights_seminar_eurofora_400 

++ From EU's point of view, it was Added, particularly, a wish to Develop Europe's "Social Pillar" (particularly since 2017, i.e., in the Middle of Juncker's EU Commission, a Great Political Figure of Center-Right's ChristianDemocrats/EPP, notorious also for his relevant Appeal :  - "Don't Abandon Social Policy to Socialists !"), as the recent Economic Crisis had Aggravated pockets of Poverty and/or Rising InEquality, But, even More in order to Face a Growing Need for EU's "Cohesion" and Fight against some Gaping "Divergences" Between EU Member States.

- F.ex., speaking to "Eurofora", International Movement ATD-"Fourth World"'s (Father Joseph Wresinski's notorious creation) representative, Helene Rozet, who has reportedly Worked Both at Haiti and Egypt, But Also at Paris' Suburbs, etc., stressed that Poverty cases are, indeed, recently found inside Europe too, and Not Only around Some Migrants, but Even among several Authentic French People, of Long French Origin, (particularly Visible through some Severe "Housing" Problems, etc).

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=> Thus, incoming New EU Health Commissioner Elsa Kyriakides, "could certainly Help" elementary Social Rights of the People, f.ex., "by Speaking about the Europen Social Charter" (of the CoE), that she knows well, "and Urging Member States to fulfill their Commitments", soberly but substantially Replied to an "Eurofora" Question the President of CoE's PanEuropean Committee of Social Rights, (the Highest Body in this field), Giuseppe Palmisano.

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+ As for EU Commission's deputy Director for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Rudi Delarue, from the Netherlands, speaking later to "Eurofora", he Stressed the "Fundamental" Importance that "Health" has inside EU's "Social Pillar", (f.ex. via Projects to support "Handicaped" People, the Plan against Cancer, "Access" to Social Protection", etc), while also reminding tha the incoming New EU Commission's President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, has "Studied Medicine", (in Addition to her Husband's involvement in Bio-Medical Research), as well as the Fact that it was "partly Inspired by CoE's Social Charter", whose extensive Experience, by Stella Kyriakides (Comp. Supra) could certainly Help a very useful "Synergy".

 

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++ Apparently Converging towards a Similar Direction, the incoming New EU Commissioner-designate announced, while she was Visiting EU Parliament to meet with its New President Sassoli, Earlier this Week in Strasbourg, that "Mainstreaming Health across All EU Policy Areas (i.e. including for the Fight Against Poverty and/or Discrimination, but for Cohesion, etc) will be a shared Priority for the next 5 years" (2019-2024). once the New Commission is confirmed" by MEPs' forthcoming Votes.

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>>> Thus, in Consequence, the New Director of CoE's Social Charter, Jian Malinowski from Spain, (an experienced former Head of Medias section), speaking  later to "Eurofora", appeared quite Enthousiast when he Learned that a former Long-Time CoE's Expert on these Issues, like Kyriakides (Comp. Supra), was becoming New EU's Commissioner on Health, a Key Pillar of Social Rights, and Vowed to strive to Develop the Best possible EU-CoE Cooperation, on this occasion.

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However, one of the Current Problems, which Surfaced during this Seminar's Debates, was a kind of "Tension" between at least certain Member States' Governments (sometimes, even those among the More Advanced in Social Rights' Legal recognition)  and the way that CoE's Social Charter is Recently working in real Practice, as, among otherq, also Melanie Schmitt, a Strasbourg University Lecturer on Social Rights, particularly evoked, pleading for a Better overall Respect of Principles in this Sensitive area.

Already, Eliane Chemla, General Rapporteur of the PanEuropean Committee on Social Rights, (CoE's Watchdog for the Implementatio of its Social Charter), speaking at the Beginning of this seminar, had Advised recalcitrant States to Better see "Sanctions" (for alleged Violation of certain Social Rights), as a kind of "Preventive" Measures, serving to Alert in order to Avoid Risks of undue Human Sufferings, possible Social Upeavals and/or Political Expoitation of them, which could be a Real "Trouble"...

But, among others, particulary Stefan Clauwaert, Senior Legal and Human Rights' Advisor, at the European Trade Union ConFederation, in Brussels, unveiled Both a Jurist's Technical Knowledge and a kind of Fighting Spirit, which apparently moved some among the audience...

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Nevertheless, Joseph Faber, from Luxembourg, the President of CoE's Governemental Committee for the Social Charter and Social Security Code, speaking to "Eurofora", (after staying, apparently, Calm during that Controversy, withOut participating explicitly Now to that Public Debate), told us that, in his View, those Problems indeed felt recently by several Governments, are not so much due to CoE's Social Charter itself, (Neither to the New Monitoring Procedure via Collective Applications as such : Comp. Supra), But rather to the Concrete Use that the Current Committee on Social Rights is allegedly Making out of those Rules and/or Principles...

A Point which, Obviously, if it's sufficiently Confirmed, inter alia, might also Leave to the EU a quite Large Margin of Manoeuvre, in the Concrete Way that it could Make Good Use of CoE's Social Charter itself.

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+ Moreover, HighLighting the Conclusions of this CoE's Seminar, the experienced Professor Luis Jimena Qesada, from Spain, former President of CoE's Social Rights' Committee (and, perhaps, also Future), added a Series of Wider Action possibiiities :

 
- First of all, even some National Governments, sometimes ...Ask for an eventual "Condemnation" by CoE's Social Charter's Watchdog, in order to Find a Legitimate Pretext to Make some Legislative Reforms for which they didn't yet have a clear Majority in their Parliament, he observed. And CoE's Social Charter Experts, Can also Contribute Efficiently into National Law-Making by Member States, f.ex. through adequate Meetings with COE's PanEuropean Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, since its MEPs are, at the Same Time, Important National MPs, he pointed out. To all this Could be also added a kind of useful "Pedagogy", vis a vis Universities, National Parliaments, Judges, Lawyers, NGOs, etc., he went on to advise for the foreseable Future.

 

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Meanwhile, relevant Political Controversies, particularly around Poor or Impoverished People, but also Middle-Class Citizens' Access to Healh Care, have been, Recently, Sky-Rocketing in Public Debates, not only in Europe, (f.ex. in France, mainly in relation to irregular Foreign Migrants, etc), but even More in the USA, (Both during the Latest Presidential Elections, and even Since the Primaries, also Inside the Democratic Party, Nowadays). The Main thrust concerning Conditions and Modalities of Access, But anOther, Related Issue, being the recently Fast-Growing Costs, (USA having the Most Expensive Health System in the World), sometimes vaguely attributed to some unnamed "Technological Innovations", (which, Curiously, instead of Simplifying and making Health Care more Efficient, on the Contrary, Complicate and OverBurden it, sometimes uselessly, and/or in order to "Test" New Equipments), but apparently as a result of a Shady, Bureaucratic Mecanism controlled by - and feeding- Technocrats, (which, mutatis-mutandis, has been also Criticized in France, even by Mainstream, Experienced Politicians).

 

(../..)

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People in Europe and the World expect from CoE to make a succes of its "Monitoring" for Human Rights and Democracy, despite difficulties, said Finland's President Tarja Halonen to "EuroFora" at a crucial moment for the mecanism built 15 years ago by the paneuropean organization which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2009.

Halonen, known as "Mother" of CoE's "Monitoring" mecanism, a long-time MEP and former Foreign Minister before becoming Finland's President, holds a long experience in the mattter, after also serving twice as CoE and EU Chairwoman in the past. That's why she is well placed to judge how CoE's "monitoring" should deal today with some crucial issues of importance both to CoE and to the EU.

The move came just a Month before a crucial, last visit to Turkey, scheduled for June, by the President of CoE''s "Monitoring" Committee, Ukranian MEP Serge Holovaty, to finalize his Report on Ankara, the CoE Member State with the longest Monitoring procedure. From its results depends its overall credibility.

This is a Test-case, because, in fact, it's in order to avoid Sanctions threatened against Turkey by a CoE's Assembly's April 1995 Resolution for grave Human Rights violations, Democracy gaps, the continuing Military Occupation in Cyprus, the unresolved Kurdish problem, Aegean differend with Greece, etc., that MEPs decided to create, for the 1st time on April 1996, a "Monitoring" proces, allegedly destinated to check, without excluding Countries who did not fulfill all CoE's standards.

In the Past, the obliged withdrawal of Greece's Military regime and of its "Civil" cover-up out of the CoE had helped bring back Democracy in 1974. But, on the contrary, since April 1996, the idea was to "monitor" Human Rights' respect while keeping most concerned Countries inside the CoE. After Turkey's oldest example, this was extended also to several former "Eastern" European Countries, even if CoE's Assembly has imposed to some of them (fex. Ukraine, Russia, etc., after Belarus, Serbia, etc) various "Sanctions", that Ankara always avoided. Curiously more succesful even than .. USA itself, (a CoE "Observer" since 1995), which has been at least threatened with sanctions some years ago..

EU-effects of CoE's Monitoring process became obvious between 2001-2008, since the "closure" of this procedure, when CoE felt that a Country had met most of its Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law obligations, (i.e. the "Copenhagen Criteria" for the EU), helped trigger Negotiations with the EU for "Accession" or other closer relations : This occured already before the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements to former "Eastern" European Countries, as well as for the commencement of "accession" negotiations with Croatia, and of "open-ended" negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

    But a stricking new development are Holovaty's recent findings that on core Human Rights issues as Torture and Freedom of Expression, Turkey, even "5 Years after" CoE closed its "Monitoring", back in 2004, inciting EU to start accession Negotiations in 2005, still presents grave problems.

    His findings are of crucial importance after a 2008 CoE Resolution called, "if need be", to "seriously consider the possibility of Re-Opening the Monitoring procedure for Turkey" : A move which might affect Ankara's controversial EU bid, since EU Accession Negotiations are based on the Hypothesis that the Candidate fullfils the "Copenhagen Criteria" (See above)..
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    Holovaty expressed his will to check  "Matters still Outstanding" and  those that he "didn't have an opportunity to discuss" at an earlier visit this year, "in order to discuss the more complex issues in greater depth", at his forthcoming New Visit to Ankara, before the December 2009 EU Summit.  This is all based on the 2004 CoE Resolution which stresses that, CoE "will continue.. post-monitoring Dialogue with the Turkish authorities,...in addition to a 12-points list,..and on any Other Matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s Obligations as a CoE member state".

    CoE's Resolution also asks  from Turkey "to secure the proper Implementation of Judgements, particularly in the Cyprus v. Turkey InterState case", of 2001, which concerns also the plight of many Hundreds of MISSING People. It adds Turkey's obligations to "execute" ECHR's Judgements in the Loizidou case,..and in particular adopt General Measures to avoid repetition or continuation of Violations found by the Court" to the detriment of Refugees.

    Nevertheless, Holovaty said to "EuroFora" that "MISSING" persons,"might be included" and cannot be excluded, but he has yet to examine the situation "to find out  which issues will be raised" to the Turkish Government.

    Therefore, "EuroFora" asked Halonen, as the Historic "Mother" of CoE's Monitoring mecanism, if she thought that, "whenever there are grave Human Rights Violations, as fex. "MISSING" persons, attested even by ECHR's judgements, they should be always checked by a Monitoring process. Or could they be forgotten ?"
    
     - "We (CoE) must be, at the same time, Fair, Realistic, but not in the mind that "now we have Forgotten", etc., replied to "EuroFora"'s question Halonen, speaking as a matter of general principle.

    - "When we think of those People that are suffering from the lack of Democracy, of Human Rights, and of the Rule of Law", "we should find a base on how to deal with the (Monitoring) system more rapidly"', she stressed.

    - "Sometimes it's very difficult to combine Transparency and Effectivenes together, particularly in this specific case", she went on to say. But, "I have not found a (CoE Member) Country who could be insensitive in this sens", Halonen answered concerning grave Human Rights violations attested by the ECHR.

    - "I have no ready-made answer. I have the expectations that you, in the CoE, will, step by step, find the different types of the monitoring systems."

    Also "because this is a part of the UN's Post-Conflict system, (fex. when it comes to Cyprus' MISSING persons), and it's a more Global system". So that, "If we make a succes in Europe, the others will follow", throughout the World.  "But they expect that we (Europe) are this opportunity, this Opportunity to make a Succes", Halonen concluded.

    In addition, she advised to extend CoE's Monitoring to all its 47 Member States, "because, as long as we hear that, all these monitoring systems are "OK for the neighbor, but not for me", "it's very difficult" to understand. Something which could make easier to Compare...

    Finnish MEP Jaako Laakso, former CoE Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories of Cyprus and one of the 5 Signatories of the Historic CoE's call to create the "MONITORING" mecanism since 1996, was more specific :  - "We (CoE Assembly) have to find a way for the issue of Cyprus' MISSING People to be better followed", he stressed, anouncing his intention to "speak to Mr. Holovaty" about that. "There might be also other ways", added Laakso.

    - The 2008 "Year had been a very Bad one for Turkey with regard to Human Rights in general, and Freedom of Expression in particular", denounced, meanwhile, Holovaty's preliminary Post-Monitoringh Draft Report by Holovaty, published by the CoE on April 2009.

    "Amnesty International believes that freedom of expression is not guaranteed given the various articles of the Criminal Code that restrict it. .. "For example, 1,300 Websites are said to have been closed down by the (Turkish) authorities in 2008" ! While "the new Turkish Criminal Code was used to bring a total of 1,072 proceedings between June 2005 and April 2008, and led to the conviction of 192 people", for expressing views. "Representatives of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which specialises in Kurdish affairs, ..complained about Numerous Attacks on their Freedom of Expression ...as was everyone who advocated a settlement to the question by means other than the intervention of the army" "According to their figures, 19 Newspapers had been suspended 43 times between 4 August 2006 and 4 November 2008" !...

    Moreover, on 2008,  CoE's "Ministers adopted its 4rth Resolution on the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, ...and outstanding issues regarding 175 Judgements and decisions relating to Turkey delivered between 1996 and 2008...  concerning Deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by members of the Security forces, the failure to protect the right to life, the DIisappearance and/or death of individuals, Ill-Treatment and the Destruction of property". CoE's " Ministers urged the Turkish authorities ...to ensure that members of Security forces of all ranks can be prosecuted without administrative
authorisation" for "serious crimes". Holovaty reminded.

"Nonetheless", Holovaty heard anew of "Several cases of Violence committed last year (2008) by the (Turkish) security forces". Amnesty International speaks of Many Cases of ill-treatment and Torture in the prisons and by the police". "Including, fex."'the death of Engin Ceber, a young man of 29 who died on October 2008 as a result of the TORTURE allegedly inflicted on him by police officers, prison staff and members of the gendarmerie. He was part of a group of people arrested on September 2008 during a demonstration and Press Conference in Istanbul'. Proceedings against suspects are "on-going" in this case.

- " I therefore noted an Obvious Contradiction between the Government’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.... of Torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and the different testimonies given", denounced CoE's Rapporteur.  Turkish "authorities must make considerable efforts to guarantee that proper investigations are carried out into allegations of abuses by members of the security forces and that perpetrators are effectively punished" "In this respect, I have requested detailed Statistics on the number of Investigations, acquittals and convictions in cases involving allegations of abuse in order to show the positive impact of the measures taken to date", Holovaty said, repeating a permanently unsatisfied CoE's demand to Turkey since a Decade...

    - "The Political Crisis that shook the country in the spring of 2008 highlighted the Weaknesses of the (Turkish) Constitution", which comes from the Military regime of 1982, "and the Urgent Need of Reforms", stressed from the outset CoE's Rapporteur in 2009. In particular, "the ...Democratic functioning of state institutions, including the independence of the judicial system, are crucial", he observes.

    But, "the Electoral  system and the ways in which it is circumvented do not appear to give those elected complete Legitimacy, and tend to pervert the course of direct universal suffrage", denounces Holovaty, observing that, even 5 Years later, Turkey did not yet change the 10% nationwide Threshold for a party to take any seat, which is "far higher" than the "3%" maximum in Europe and already condemned as contrary to European Standards by the CoE.

    + Moreover, EU Parliament's 2009 Report on Turkey, drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten and adopted in Strasbourg on March, expresses "Concern over the Failure of the (Turkish) Judiciary to prosecute cases of Torture and Ill-treatment, the Number of which is Growing". EU also "is concerned about continuing Hostility and Violence against Minorities" in Turkey. It also "calls on the Turkish Government to launch, as a matter of Priority, a Political Initiatve favouring a lasting Settlement of the Kurdish issue, (while "condemning violence.. and terrorist groups"). EU "regrets that No progress has been made on establishing full, systematic Civilian suprevisory functions over the (Turkish) Military".

    The final results of Holovaty's 2nd and last visit to Turkley will be known later this year, and, at any case, before EU's December 2009 Summit.

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