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.