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Newsletter of the Venice Commission
3 / 2014


In this issue


October 2014 plenary session

 Decisions of the October plenary

At its 100th plenary session on 17-18 OCtober 2014 in Rome, the Commission:

·        heard the addresses on the occassion of the 100th plenary session of the Commission;

·        adopted opinions inter alia on:

  • the draft amendments (XXXIII - XXXIX) to the Constitution of "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" concerning, in particular, the Judicial Council, the competence of the Constitutional Court and special financial zones;
  • the Draft law amending the Constitution of Ukraine, submitted by the President of Ukraine on 2 July 2014 and decided to make it public following the Ukrainian parliamentary elections to be held on 26 October 2014 (endorsed);
  • the Concept Paper on the Constitutional Reforms of the Republic of Armenia;
  • the draft amendments to the Organic Law on General Courts, to the Law on Disciplinary Liability and Disciplinary Proceedings of Judges of General Courts and to the Administrative, Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes of Georgia ;
  • the draft law on political parties of Malta (jointly with the OSCE/ODIHR) and was informed of plans to reform the Constitution of the country;
  • draft amendments to the Laws on the financing of political activities, on the High Judicial Council and on the State Prosecutorial Council of Serbia;

·        adopted the Report on the implementation of human rights treaties in domestic law and the role of courts;

·        was informed on follow-up to:

§  the procedure for appointing judges of the Constitutional Court in times of presidential transition in the Slovak Republic;

§  the joint opinion on the draft Law on Disciplinary Liability of Judges of the Republic of Moldova;

§  the joint opinion on the Electoral Code of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”; the opinion on the electoral legislation of Mexico;

§  the joint opinion on the Act on the Elections of Members of Parliament of Hungary;

·        held an exchange of views inter alia with :

o   Mr Nikola Todorov, Minister for Health of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”;

o   Mr Ruslan Knyazevych, Representative of the President of Ukraine to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine;

o   Mr David Usupashvili, Speaker of Parliament of Georgia, on the progress of work on Constitutional Reform in Georgia;

o   Ms Branka Lakocevic, Deputy Minister for Justice of Montenegro and adopted the opinion on the Draft law on the Constitutional Court of Montenegro;


(read the synopsis of the plenary)

Selected opinions

  • Ukraine  - opinion on the draft law amending the Constitution

    In the spring 2014, the Venice Commission was asked by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to assist in the preparation of amendments to the constitution of Ukraine.

    On 25 May 2014, presidential elections were held in Ukraine, which resulted in Mr Petro Poroshenko becoming President of Ukraine. At its June 2014 Plenary Session, following the announcement by the Ukrainian authorities that they would seek the Commission’s assessment of the draft amendments to the constitution before the summer recess, the Venice Commission gave mandate to the rapporteurs to transmit the preliminary opinion based on their assessment to the Ukrainian authorities prior to its submission at the Plenary of October 2014.

    President Poroshenko prepared a set of constitutional amendments, which he submitted to the Verkhovna Rada on 2 July 2014 (CDL-REF(2014)027). No public discussion of these amendments took place. By a letter of the same date, transmitted to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on 7 July 2014, President Poroshenko requested the Venice Commission to prepare an opinion on these draft amendments “in the shortest time possible, in view of the need to consider this document during the current session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine”.

    The present preliminary opinion was sent to the Ukrainian authorities on 24 July 2014. It was subsequently endorsed by the Venice Commission at its 100th Plenary Session (Rome, 10-11 October 2014).


    (read the summary )

  • "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" - draft amendments to the Constitution  

    On 27 June 2014, the Government announced an initiative for amending the Constitution. This initiative was submitted to the Parliament on 1 July 2014. On 16 July 2014 the Parliament by a 2/3 majority vote of the total number of MPs decided to start the amendment process.

    On 5 August 2014 the Minister of Justice of the “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (hereinafter referred to as “the Republic”), Mr Adnan Jashari, requested the opinion of the Venice Commission on the 2014 Draft Amendments XXXIII - XXXIX to the Constitution.

    On 27 August 2014 the text of the draft amendments was debated in the Parliament and adopted by a majority vote of the total number of MPs. The text was then submitted to a 30-day public debate, as required by Article 131 (2) of the Constitution.

    These 2014 Draft Amendments covered different areas:

              XXXIII - constitutional definition to marriage and other forms of personal unions; •          XXXIV - an International Financial Zone; •          XXXV -  the Central Bank;
              XXXVI -  the status of the State Audit Office;
              XXXVII -  a budget rule limiting public spending;
              XXXVIII -  the composition of the Judicial Council; and, finally,
              XXXIX - the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court.

    Following the public debate, the text of the amendments were re-submitted to the Parliament for final approval (Article 131 (3) of the Constitution). At this point the decision to amend the Constitution had to obtain the support of at least 2/3 of the total number of MPs. Under Article 131 (4) of the Constitution certain most important changes require a “double majority”: the 2/3 majority of all MPs and the simple majority of MPs who “belong to the communities not in the majority in the population of Macedonia” ( “the non-majority communities”). 

    (read the summary)  



    28/09 - 1/10/2014

    3rd Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice (WCCJ)

    The main purpose of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice, which unites 93 Constitutional Courts and Councils and Supreme Courts in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe, is is to facilitate judicial dialogue between constitutional judges on a global scale.

    The 3rd Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice dealt with the topic of “Constitutional Justice and Social Integration” was coorganised with the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea and brought together more than 300 participants from 97 courts worldwide.

    Website of the WCCJ

    Selected activities since the 99th plenary session

    • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

    Serbia – visit to the country - 28-29/08/2014

    Belgrade – following the requests for the Venice Commission’s opinion on the draft amendments and additions to the Law on the High Judicial Council and on the Law on the State Prosecutorial Council of the Republic of Serbia, a delegation of the Commission plans to meet with the authorities in order to discuss the draft amendments.  

    • Constitutional Justice

    Constitutional Justice - Joint Council

    26 -27/6/2014  

    Batumi - Upon invitation by the Constitutional Court of Georgia, the Venice Commission's Joint Council on Constitutional Justice held its 13th meeting in Batumi, which was opened and chaired by the President of the Constitutional Court of Georgia. 

    • Elections and Political Parties

    "The Misuse of administrative resources related to elections" – International conference - 26 - 27/06/2014

    Helsinki - co-organised in co-operation with the Ministry of Justice, the Parliament and the National Audit Office of Finland the 11th European Electoral Management Bodies Conference on the “Combating the misuse of administrative resources during electoral processes”.

     Website of the Conference
    • Neighbourhood Cooperation

    Fourth Intercultural Workshop - Democracy on Transparency and the Rule of Law -09/10/2014

    Rome - The Venice Commission and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised the Fourth Intercultural Workshop on Democracy on the topic: “Transparency and the Rule of Law as Pre-conditions of Equitable and Sustainable Development”. Representatives of 8 Arab countries took part in the event.



    Available now from the Secretariat:

    • "The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe" (2014, English, French versions)

    • "Annual report of activities 2013" (2014, English, French versions)

    Available from the Council of Europe Publishing:

    • Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law: Issue 2014/1

  • Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law: Issue 2014/2



    • Armenia - constitutional reform;

    • Azerbaijan - Law on non-governmental organisations (Public Associations and Funds), as amended;

    • Georgia - amendments to the Constitution; amicus curiae brief for the Constitutional Court of on the question of the defamation of the deceased;

    • Republic of Moldova  - amicus curiae brief on certain provisions of the Law on professional integrity testing (anti-corruption law) of the concerning, in particular, constitutional court and ordinary court judges;

    • Montenegro - draft law on the rights and duties of judges and the Judicial Council and draft law on Courts;

    • Montenegro - draft law on the State Prosecutor's Office and draft law on the Special Prosecutor's Office;

    • Ukraine - Law on Government Cleansing ("Lustration Law").


    Electoral issues

    • Criteria for standing for local and regional elections

    • Method of nomination of candidates within political parties

    • The extent of the voter's choice: lists and candidates

    • Electoral lists and voters abroad

    Democratic institutions and fundamental rights

    • Freedom of association - joint OSCE/ODIHR-VC guidelines

    • Security Services - update of the Commission's study

    • Rule of law - check list


    • Constitutional justice
    • Ordinary justice

    Link to the calendar of upcoming events

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