Strasbourg, 22 January 2013 - Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland today issued an impassioned call for Europe to reaffirm its collective and individual commitment to protect human rights, solidarity and democracy, but warned that widespread corruption was undermining citizens’ trust in the rule of law.
Speaking to the Parliamentary Assembly, he recognised that Europe is facing a number of concurrent crises – financial, institutional and a crisis of confidence.
“Corruption is the biggest single threat to democracy in Europe today. More and more people on our continent are losing faith in the rule of law. The Council of Europe has to act, and act now", Jagland asserted. Highlighting the importance of the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption group (GRECO) he said “I urge all member states to take seriously the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies”.
Detailing his vision for the way forward, Mr Jagland proposed that the Council of Europe concentrate on four priorities:
Fighting corruption and helping governments to implement judicial reforms;
Protecting freedom of expression and of the media;
Fighting intolerance and hate speech; and
Promoting diversity and protecting minorities.