Wednesday, 30 November 2011

EU: European Commission proposal on ERASMUS for ALL as new programme for Education, training, youth and sport

Erasmus for All is the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport proposed by the European Commission on 23 November 2011. This programme would bring together all the current EU and international schemes for education, training, youth and sport, replacing seven existing programmes with one from 2014 - 2020. The new programme for education, training and youth would allocate €19.5 billion (+ 70%) over seven years. The proposal is now under discussion by the Council (27 Member States) and the European Parliament who will take the final decision.

The most issues around the Erasmus for All programme have already been discussed in the last issue of e-DARE: See here especially the so far not solved problem related to the future of youth programme targeted solely on education in a streamlined programme!

The new programme will comprise three main lines of action:

(1) Trans-national learning mobility (65% of the budget foreseen) - as many as 800,000 EU citizens, mainly students, could be helped to be mobile each year.
(2) Co-operation activities between education institutions (25 % of the foreseen budget) and the world of work will be supported to promote the modernisation of education, innovation and entrepreneurship.
(3) Policy support (4% of the foreseen budget) will be provided to gather evidence on the effectiveness of education investments and to help Member States implement effective policies.

The streamlined programme will be facilitated via a single national agency and it is predicted to have reduced administration load compared to the current line of programmes. Instead of currently 6 subprogrammes, with 50 Priorities and 60 actions targeted to the specific needs of the sectors (which is in fact a big plus of the current programme) the new integrated programme will focus on the above 3 main lines of action with cross- sectoral priorities:

Contentwise the basis for the new programme is set on a bunch of pillars. It is designed to support the following initiatives (all of them contain issues relevant for EDC/HRE)

1. the EU 2020 strategy
2. the youth on the move initiative
3. the Education and Training Strategy 2020 (ET 2020)
4. the European key competences for Lifelong Learning
5. the European Youth strategy
6. the new European Agenda for Adult learning


It is important to mention that the forseen increase of the budget on ~70% compared to the current line of programmes exists so far only on the paper and is not confirmed by any Council decision (tba for 2nd half of 2012). Taking into consideration the effects of the current financial crisis on state budgets, it is hard to predict if the proposed budgetary increase will  be accepted by a decision of the Council of Ministeres and the EU member states. In the worst case Erasmus for All stays financially on the same level as the current generation of programmes 2007 - 2013, which means for adult eduaction and youth purposes in fact a decrease in the budget compared to the current budget and streamlined towards labour market related skills, with a large focus on learning mobility higher and vocational education.
In an integrated programme there is the risk that "big tankers" (as universities etc.) will be in the position to dominate the whole programme as they have a better and far more competitive infrastructure than small educational providers and especially NGO´s, and thus are in a far better position to be successfull within the new educational programme.

The fact that the current generation of EU-Programmes was tailormade to the specific needs of each educational sector is a criterium of high quality which threatens to get lost in the the new Erasmus for All programme. This risk should be communicated to all relevant stakeholders on the political level.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Shortlist for new Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner announced

Strasbourg, 25.11.2011 - The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers has submitted a shortlist of three candidates for the post of Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner to the Organisation’s Parliamentary Assembly.

The candidates are:
- Pierre-Yves MONETTE (Belgium)
- Nils MUIŽNIEKS (Latvia)
- Frans TIMMERMANS (Netherlands).

The Assembly will elect the new Commissioner during its winter plenary session in Strasbourg (23-28 January 2012).
He will take over from present Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg at the end of his mandate (31 March 2012).

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11

Thursday, 24 November 2011

16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women

United Nations Press release
23 November 2011

In August 2011, men and boys aged 18 to 25 were invited by the UNiTE campaign to use their creativity and imagination to create designs that Say NO to violence against women and girls and embody equality and respect.

The T-shirt design competition reached out to young men throughout the world to help end violence against women and girl. Thirty-four regional and global judges have selected the five top designs, one each from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North Africa. The winning entries will be announced on 23 November 2011 in New York.

The UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign brings together a host of UN agencies and offices to galvanize action to prevent violence against women and girls and aims to raise public awareness and increase political will and resources for preventing and ending violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.

Violence against women happens everywhere and it affects one out of every three women worldwide. Based on country data available, up to 70 per cent of women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

The 16 days of activism campaign, which runs every year from 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – to 10 December – Human Rights Day - calls for the elimination of violence against women and invites everyone to take action against it.

“The 16-day campaign challenges us to focus on ways, measures and means to eliminate all forms of violence against women,” said Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women.

In a recent report, Manjoo highlighted that violence against women occur within the family up to the transnational arena.

Highlighting the importance of prevention, prosecution and punishment of violence against women, as well as the victims’ right to reparations, Manjoo said that States should ensure that the root causes and consequences of violence against women are tackled at all levels of society. “Violence against women is not the root problem,” she stressed, but “it occurs because other forms of discrimination are allowed to flourish.”

A report released this year by the UN Human Rights office provides an overview of good practices aimed at preventing violence against women. Examples include legislative, political and operational measures.

Preventing violence against women – the report states – requires a spectrum of strategies accompanied by political and financial commitments, at all levels of the States and involving a large range of actors and stakeholders.

“Preventing violence from happening in the first place must be central to any strategy to eliminate violence against women,” said UN Human Rights Chief, Navy Pillay.

She explained that “eliminating violence against women necessarily encompasses measures to empower women to stand for their own rights, make decisions on their lives and participate fully in the life of their communities.”

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

DARE General Assembly adopts sustainability plan, elects new board

Last Saturday, 19 November, DARE held its annual General Assembly in Warsaw. Seven new member organisations were welcomed: Campus for Peace (Open University Catalunya, Spain), EUROCLIO-The European Association of History Educators, "The Child's Crossroad" (Georgia), Internationaler Bund (Germany), MEDIEL (Belgium), MitOst and EduNet (both Germany).

DARE members at the 2011 General Assembly in Warsaw on 19 November 2011The General Assembly elected a new Board, which will serve for a two-year term. Board members are: Alenka Elena Begant (Centre for Citizenship Education, Slovenia, Treasurer), Frank Elbers (HREA, Netherlands, Chair), Lora Lalova (Partners Bulgaria Foundation), Tanveer Parnez (BEMIS, Scotland, Vice Chair), Gabriella Patriziano (VIS, Italy), and Georg Pirker (AdB, Germany, Secretary).

Finally, members also adopted a new membership fee structure that will contribute to the medium and long-term financial sustainability of the network.

DARE is a Europe-wide network of NGOs and other organisations devoted to raise the profile of Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC) and Human Rights Education (HRE), promote transcultural and transnational cooperation, and enhance the quality of education within these fields. DARE currently has 55 members in 27 countries reaching over 25,000 educators, trainers and other stakeholders.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Priorities of the United Kingdom Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

(7 November 2011 – 14 May 2012)

Priorities and objectives
The United Kingdom is proud to be assuming the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from 7 November 2011. As a founder member of the organisation and the first country to ratify the European Convention on Human Rights, the UK takes the responsibility of the Chairmanship, which it last held in 1993, very seriously. We see it as an opportunity for the UK to play a leading role in the vital work of the Council of Europe in promoting human rights, democracy and rule of law across the continent.

The overarching theme of our Chairmanship will be the promotion and protection of human rights. We will have a particular focus on developing practical measures in the following areas:

a. reforming the European Court of Human Rights and strengthening implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights;
b. supporting Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland’s programme of reform of the Council of Europe as an organisation;
c. strengthening the rule of law;
d. internet governance, including freedom of expression on the internet;
e. combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity;
f. streamlining the Council of Europe’s activities in support of local and regional democracy.

In addition to these priorities, the UK Chairmanship will of course work to progress other areas of important Council of Europe business.

A – Reform of the European Court of Human Rights and strengthening implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights
The Court is an essential part of the system for protecting human rights across Europe. But it is struggling with its huge, growing backlog of applications – now 155,000. This is undermining the Court’s efficiency and authority.
Reform is more urgent than ever before: we cannot wait any longer before taking concrete and effective action. The UK will give this issue the highest political importance. The entry into force of Protocol 14 in 2010 had a positive effect but it is insufficient.
We must learn from that and ensure that this time we are sufficiently forward looking and agree effective and enduring solutions. The UK Chairmanship will seek consensus on a package of measures in the following areas, agreed at Interlaken and Izmir:

· a set of efficiency measures, which will enable the Court to focus quickly, efficiently and transparently on the most important cases that require its attention;
· strengthening the implementation of the Convention at national level, to ensure that national courts and authorities are able to assume their primary role in protecting human rights;
· measures to strengthen subsidiarity – new rules or procedures to help ensure that the Court plays a subsidiary role where member states are fulfilling their obligations under the Convention;
· improving the procedures for nominating suitably qualified judges to the Court, and ensuring that the Court's case law is clear and consistent.

The UK will aim for a package of measures to be agreed by means of a Declaration at a Ministerial conference in the UK on reform of the Court. Further details of this conference will be presented in due course. The Declaration will provide the basis of a Decision of the Committee of Ministers to be adopted at its annual meeting on 14 May 2012.

In accordance with the deadline set by the Interlaken declaration, the package should include proposals for reform which require amendment of the Convention. In addition we will aim to provide the Court with political support from the Committee of Ministers for the measures it is already taking to prioritise and better manage its workload, and to provide a wide margin of appreciation to member states’ authorities in its judgments.

In response to the call in the Izmir High level Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights to pursue ‘long term strategic reflections on the future role of the court’, the UK will host a conference at Wilton Park on a “2020 Vision for the European Court of Human Rights” on 17-19 November 2011.

B – Supporting Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland’s programme of reform of the organisation

The UK will actively support Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland’s programme of reforms of the Council of Europe. We will work towards implementation of measures which will help to deliver more focused, streamlined and effective organisation and a more efficient use of resources.

C – Strengthening the rule of law

The UK chairmanship attaches great importance to strengthening the rule of law in Europe. The UK will host a meeting of the Venice Commission and member state representatives to discuss the recently adopted Venice Commission report on the Rule of Law. The UK chairmanship will present the conclusions of the meeting to the Committee of Ministers, thereby providing an opportunity for their concrete follow up.

D – Internet governance, including freedom of expression on the Internet

The UK strongly supports an open internet, not only in terms of access and content but also freedom of expression. Our Chairmanship will work towards the adoption of the Council of Europe Internet governance strategy by the Committee of Ministers. We will also give impetus to the principles that the Council of Europe has developed to uphold freedom of expression on the internet and provide support to other initiatives, to ensure that all member states live up to their international obligations in this area.

E – Combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity

Too many people still suffer outdated prejudices, discrimination and violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The United Kingdom Chairmanship will work to maintain the momentum generated by the Council of Europe recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity1, and will work with the Secretariat on their implementation. We will encourage steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

F – Streamlining the Council of Europe’s activities in support of local and regional democracy

The UK Chairmanship will work towards a more effective and efficient role for the Council of Europe in supporting local and regional democracy. The UK supports the Council of Europe’s significant programme of activities in this area, including monitoring and sharing of expertise, but wants to see it streamlined and more carefully targeted as a result of the work being led by the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Manuel Chaves.

Our aim is to reach agreement on the creation of a Single Programme of Council of Europe activity on local and regional democracy during our Chairmanship. The activities of the numerous actors in the field of local and regional democracy should be streamlined into a single coherent programme of work, overseen by the Committee of Ministers. This will provide greater value for money, and enable a targeted and focussed approach, eliminating the potential for duplication and inefficiency and delivering the outcomes member states want. The Single Programme will have one pooled budget and will be supported by a single unified Secretariat.

Shared priorities of the Ukrainian, United Kingdom and Albanian chairmanships on reform

Reform of the European Court of Human Rights

Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Albania agree that our consecutive Chairmanships of the Committee of Ministers will each continue to support and drive forwards the Interlaken process on the future of the European Court of Human Rights, building on the accomplishments of the Turkish and preceding Chairmanships, including the agreements as set out in the Izmir Declaration.

The Court is an essential part of the system for protecting human rights across Europe. However, there is a clear case for reform to ensure it works as effectively as possible. To ensure the momentum of reform is maintained and any additional issues are identified and addressed as soon as possible, the three Chairmanships will cooperate to ensure timely delivery of the reports required under points 3, 4 and 5 of the Implementation section of the Interlaken Action Plan.

Council of Europe reform

Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Albania agree that our consecutive Chairmanships will each strive to prioritize, with Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, the implementation of the ongoing programme of institutional and operational reform of the Council of Europe. It is appropriate that the Committee of Ministers is reviewing and rationalizing the Organisation’s structure, work and budgetary priorities. This will ensure the Organisation is best placed to have maximum impact through its unique pan-European work protecting and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Local and regional government

The Ukrainian, UK and Albanian chairmanships in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will work together to deliver the local and regional government initiatives agreed at the Conference of Ministers for Local and Regional Government in Utrecht in November 2009, following the report by Mrs Mari Kiviniemi. The overall objective is to raise the efficiency of the Council of Europe work on local and regional democracy and good governance, and to ensure it meets the expectations of citizens in the member states.

We look forward to the report on the working arrangements between Governments and the Congress, and on the reviews of Congress’s assessments of local and regional democracy, to be presented by Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Manuel Chaves, at the Kyiv ministerial conference in November 2011. The three Chairmanships will deliver the agreed outcome to ensure that Council of Europe work on local and regional democracy is more cost effective, visible and has impact, focussing on good governance, effective transfrontier cooperation and delivering the best possible outcomes for citizens in Europe.

Calendar of events
  • 7 November 2011: Meeting of the Committee of Ministers – handover ceremony from Ukraine to the United Kingdom, Strasbourg
  • 17-19 November 2011: Experts’ conference on a 2020 Vision for the European Court of Human Rights. Wilton Park.
  • March 2012 (date to be confirmed): Meeting of the member states and the Venice Commission on the Rule of Law. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London.
  • April 2012 (date and venue to be confirmed): Ministerial meeting on Reform of the European Court of Human Rights.
  • 14 May 2012: Committee of Ministers meeting – handover from United Kingdom to Albania, Strasbourg
1 CM/Rec(2010)5E: Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 31 March 2010 at the 1081st meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

new film on History Education: Ich bin

During the time of Communism, a joke was often heard: "Is it possible to predict the future?" - “Yes, we know precisely what future will bring, our problem is the past, as it never seizes to change!"

During the Second World War, remarkable figures of resistance raised against the totalitarianism of Nazism and Stalinism. They followed their consciousness without compromising.

This film explores how the work of memory is carried out in France, Germany and Russia.

Alexandra, Florian, Roman and Maria take off on a journey destination:

  • Munich, hometown to Hans and Sophie Scholl, who resisted against Nazism without giving in to their human convictions
  • Paris, where they meet the survivors of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup of 1942 perpetrated by the French police
  • Vercors, France, nest to the French resistance
  • Katyn, Russia – the memorial of thousands and thousands of Polish intellectuals killed by the NKVD (Soviet police army).
During the years of 1939 and 1945 obscurities, but also remarkable and extraordinary events were produced in a time, which today has left tracks in the collective idea of how a population has of itself.

This film about an hour long, illustrates the issue of bringing to the surface the events of the past in order to construct European society and confirm our identities, it also brings reflection to the importance of resisting the forces pulling towards destruction of humanity and the importance such attitude can have in our present times.

See the full film in 6 languages:

MEDIEL, as of 2011 a new DARE member and European production company is bringing to you documentary films that can open and produce new understandings to how we live society today. Our focus is to depict the voices of the past, present and future, with the common denominator of openness – consciousness of our beings in the meeting with the other and ourselves. “Ich Bin” is a follow up to “the Convoy”- a film made in 2009 dealing with the memory of a young extraordinary Dutch woman of Jewish confession, lost in Auschwitz 1943.