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Comitato dei Ministri


Comitato dei Ministri


The Committee of Ministers, which is the Council of Europe's decision-making body, comprises the 47 Foreign Affairs Ministers of all the member States or their Permanent diplomatic Representatives in Strasbourg.

Meetings of the Ministers and their Deputies are governed by the Statute of the Council of Europe and rules of procedure.
The Committee meets at ministerial level once a year, in May or in November. The meetings, known as "sessions", are normally held in Strasbourg.
While the greater part of each session is usually devoted to political dialogue, the Ministers may discuss all matters of mutual interest with the exception of national defense.
Meetings of the Ministers' Deputies are usually held once a week, while they also meet several times a week in subsidiary groups.

The chairmanship of the Committee is rotated on a six-monthly basis, changing with each session in the English alphabetical order of member States.

The Committee of Ministers performs a triple role:

  • as the emanation of the governments which enables them to express on equal terms their national approaches to the problems confronting Europe's societies;
  • as the collective forum where European responses to these challenges are worked out;
  • as guardian, alongside the Parliamentary Assembly, of the values for which the Council of Europe exists.

The work of the Committee of Ministers includes political dialogue, interacting with the Parliamentary Assembly (that takes several forms, like the Statutory report of the Committee of Ministers, requests for the Assembly's opinion, follow-up to recommendations of the Assembly, replies to oral and written questions, the Joint Committee), interacting with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

The Committee of Ministers also deals with:

  • admitting new member States;

The Committee of Ministers has the authority to invite European States to become members of the Council of Europe (Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the Statute) and it may also suspend or terminate membership.
The process of admission begins when the Committee of Ministers, having received an official application for membership, consults the Parliamentary Assembly, which adopts an opinion which is published in the Assembly's texts adopted.
If the Committee decides that a State can be admitted, it adopts a resolution inviting that State to become a member. The invitation specifies the number of seats that the State will have in the Assembly as well as its contribution to the budget (Article 6 of the Statute). Recently the invitations have included a number of conditions concerning the implementation of democratic reforms in the applicant State.
Upon this invitation, the State submits its tool of accession, by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, thus taking the membership.

  • concluding conventions, agreements and recommendations;

The text of any treaty is finalized when it is adopted by the Committee. Under Article 20 of the Statute adoption of a treaty requires: a two-thirds majority of the representatives casting a vote; a majority of those entitled to vote.
Conventions are only binding on those States which ratify them.
Article 15.b of the Statute provides for the Committee of Ministers to make recommendations to member states on matters for which the Committee has agreed "a common policy".
Under Article 20 of the Statute, adoption of a recommendation requires: unanimous vote of all representatives present; a majority of those entitled to vote.
However, at their 519 bis meeting (November 1994) the Ministers' Deputies decided to make their voting procedure more flexible and made a "Gentleman's agreement", deciding not to apply the unanimity rule to recommendations.
Recommendations are not binding on member States.

  • adopting the budget;

Under Article 38.c of the Statute the Secretary General is required to prepare a draft budget each year and submit it to the Committee of Ministers for adoption: it is presented to the Deputies in November of each year and adopted in the form of  a resolution.
Under Article 29 of the Financial Regulations (revised in May 1997) the Deputies are assisted by a Budget Committee composed of eleven independent experts, appointed by the Committee of Ministers acting on proposals from member governments.

  • adopting and monitoring the Programme of Activities;

Since 1966 the Council of Europe has organized, planned and budgeted its activities according to an annual work programme, published as the "Intergovernmental Programme of Activities".
The Deputies adopt the programme towards the end of each year and are entrusted with overseeing its implementation with the assistance of steering committees and a large number of ad hoc expert committees.

  • implementing cooperation and assistance programmes;


  • supervising the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights;

In accordance with Article 46 of the Convention as amended by Protocol No. 11 and 14, the Committee of Ministers supervises the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. This work is carried out mainly at four regular meetings (DH/HR meetings) every year.
The Committee of Ministers' essential function is to ensure that member states comply with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The Committee completes each case by adopting a final resolution; in some cases, interim resolutions may prove appropriate. Both kinds of Resolutions are public.