Honouring of obligations and commitments by Monaco
Plenary debate 28 June 2007
doc. nr 11299
Monaco is one of the smallest member states in the Council of Europe, and some say that small is beautiful. It is a remarkable state: just a small town with many millionaires, a rather small minority of Monegasques, no unemployment, a state budget, 17.5% of which is funded by gambling revenues, and a kind of democracy in which the Prince is the real boss.
Monaco entered the Council of Europe in 2004, but there were still commitments to be fulfilled. The two most important issues to be addressed were France’s big influence on the composition of the government and the lack of power of the Monaco Parliament. Since then Monaco has signed or ratified a number of conventions, but on those two main issues there is still much to be done. They are crucial to a member state that should be sovereign and a democracy.
Let me deal first with the relationship with France. The treaty of 2002 between France and Monaco replaced the treaty of 1918, but five years later it has still to be ratified by the French Parliament. Important functions, such as that of a minister, are still reserved for French nationals. As the new treaty comes into force, there is still too strong a French connection. In the case of unfilled public posts, French nationals are still in the picture. France must be consulted about senior posts in the civil service.
The Monaco Parliament still lacks the essential tools of power. It cannot change the budget and it cannot control the government, while the government is not obliged to answer questions from parliamentarians. It has not the full right to change laws. All those powers are still in the hands of the Prince, and will continue to be – as well as other powers such as the right to give sovereign orders on such matters as naturalisation, incorporating international conventions into domestic law and the establishing of criminal offences and penalties.
The former chief of the Prince’s cabinet put it very bluntly in a recent interview. He said that the nation was built around the Prince, who was more than just the head of state – he was an inspiration for all the people of Monaco. That may be the case, but we would only know for sure if that head of state were elected.
The report gives a full overview of what is lacking, but tougher wording is needed in the draft resolution. That is why I support the amendments tabled by Mr Jurgens. It could, of course, be said that Monaco is just a micro-state. It could be asked why we should bother. That, however, would be to operate double standards. Whether we are talking about Monaco or Russia, the Assembly should apply the same democratic standards.