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The South Programme II Regional Steering Committee takes stock of achievements and future challenges

headline Brussels, Belgium 16 October 2017
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The South Programme II Regional Steering Committee takes stock of achievements and future challenges

The third and final meeting of the South Programme II Regional Steering Committee was held on 16 October 2017 in Brussels. Experts and officials from national authorities were joined by members of the Council of Europe and the European Union representatives to discuss the results of three years of cooperation under the South Programme II.

Ms Verena Taylor, Director of the Office of the Directorate General of Programmes of the Council of Europe and Mr Michael A. Köhler, Director of the Neighbourhood South in the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission opened the meeting by providing all attendees an overview of the Programme’s contribution to democratic changes in the Southern Mediterranean. In the opening remarks emphasis was placed on the interdependencies between the North and the South rim of the Mediterranean in overcoming common challenges, hence the need for continued partnership.

The series of thematic working sessions have allowed national partners and Council of Europe experts to present progress in the consolidation of the common legal space between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean. Similarly, discussions covered milestones and major developments in the effective implementation of new laws inspired by European standards; the establishment and functioning of human rights institutions and democratic governance structures; justice reform; the fight against corruption and money laundering, as well as the promotion of human rights, the rule of law and democracy through the Council of Europe networks.

One of the main highlights of the meeting was a roundtable on fighting violence against women in the Southern Mediterranean during which national representatives debated shifting trends in the region while showcasing effective responses to combat these human rights violations.

Introduction Introduction

A flagship programme supporting democratic governance in the Southern Mediterranean

Since its start in 2012, the South Programme has been a strategic European Union-Council of Europe initiative supporting democratic reforms in the Southern Mediterranean based on the demand from the partners from the region. From legislative expertise to the strengthening of institutions' capacities, through peer-to-peer exchanges and networks, the South Programme has contributed to the establishment of a common legal area between the two shores of the Mediterranean.

The second phase of this ambitious three-year European Union-Council of Europe joint programme started in January 2015. It is namely contributing to the establishment of new legislative and constitutional frameworks and democratic governance structures in the region as well as institutions deriving from them. Besides, the Programme aims to contribute to the establishment of a common legal area through a progressive accession of countries from the Southern Mediterranean region to key Council of Europe conventions, which constitute the foundations for legal cooperation between countries who share common values of respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy in the 47 Council of Europe member states and beyond.

Through the Council of Europe various intergovernmental and interparliamentary networks, the South Programme II aims to foster better regional cooperation between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean partners, as well as among them, in the fields related to human rights, the rule of law and democracy.

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