Living Together - Diversity and Freedom in Europe

In co-operation with the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers (November 2010 – May 2011), Thorbjørn Jagland has proposed to create a Group of Eminent Persons in order to prepare a report within the context of the Pan-European project ''Living together in 21st century Europe'', on the challenges arising from the resurgence of intolerance and discrimination in Europe.

The group consists of 9 high-ranking individuals with a specific expertise and a particular interest in the subject. Joschka Fischer is the Chairman. Edward Mortimer is the rapporteur responsible for preparing the draft report.

The other members are: Timothy Garton Ash (United Kingdom), Emma Bonino (Italy), Martin Hirsch (France), Danuta Hubner (Poland), Ayse Kadioglu (Turkey), Sonja Licht (Serbia), Vladimir Lukin (Russia), Javier Solana Madariaga (Spain).



Thorbjørn Jagland, Council of Europe Secretary General

Martin Hirsch, French anti-poverty campaigner


Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland explains why he commissioned the "Living together" report on the challenges of diversity in Europe, and what he expects will be the concrete results of his initiative.


The French anti-poverty campaigner Martin Hirsch explains his contribution to the "Living Together" report on the challenge of diversity in Europe. Mr Hirsch was previously the French High Commissioner for Active Solidarity against Poverty and High Commissioner for Young People, and is currently the President of the Civic Service Agency. He is also the former President of Emmaüs France.

The threat

The threat

In the first part of its report and referring to the principles of  the European Convention on Human Rights, the Group highlights eight specific risks to traditional Council of Europe values:

  • rising intolerance ;
  • rising support for xenophobic and populist parties ;
  • discrimination ;
  • the presence of a population virtually without rights ;
  • parallel societies ;
  • Islamic extremism ;
  • loss of democratic freedoms ;
  • a possible clash between "religious freedom" and freedom of expression.

The response

In the second part of its report, the Group begins by setting out 17 principles which it believes should guide Europe’s response to these threats, starting with the statement that “at a minimum, there needs to be agreement that the law must be obeyed, plus a shared understanding of what the law is and how it can be changed”.

  • It then goes on to identify the main actors able to bring about the necessary changes in public attitudes: educators, mass media, employers and trade unions, civil society, churches and religious groups, celebrities and “role models”, towns and cities, member states, and European and international institutions.
  • The report then concludes with 59 “proposals for action”.


Rome, 7 July - Presentation of the Group of Eminent Persons’ report by Thorbjørn Jagland and Emma Bonino

Presentation of the Group of Eminent Persons’ report by Thorbjørn Jagland and Emma Bonino. Debate open to media.


Strasbourg, 24 June - The Parliamentary Assembly welcomes the report of the Group of Eminent Persons

On the occasion of a debate on "Living together – Combining diversity and freedom in 21st-century Europe", parliamentarians encouraged politicians and elected representatives at all levels to speak out on the challenges raised at present “by the threats to the European project and solidarity”.


London, 7 June - Presentation of the report by Chatam House by Thorbjørn Jagland

Chatham House, 12:30 to 13:30, Challenges for 21st Century European Society: Combining Diversity and Freedom. Members event.


Berlin, 23 May - Joschka Fischer and Thorbjørn Jagland launch debate on "Diversity and Freedom"

“Living Together – Combining diversity and freedom in 21st-century Europe”: presentation of the Group of Eminent Persons’ report by Thorbjørn Jagland and Joschka Fischer. Debate open to media.


In this audio podcast, Italian senator and former EU Commissioner Emma Bonino explains (in French) the main findings of the Council of Europe's "Living Together" report which she helped compile as part of a group of eminent persons.


In an interview, Ayse Kadioglu speaks about what motivated her to join the Council of Europe’s Group of Eminent Persons and explains its working methods. She stresses that the aim of this reflection group is to revive the concept of “living together” and to inject it with new energy.