On 25 January, Rik Daems (ALDE) was re-elected for a second one-year term as President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Addressing the hybrid plenary in his re-investiture speech, Daems emphasised progress made in 2020 to address rights issues resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as new standards in the field of Artificial Intelligence. However, he also recognised the difficulties of the past year for PACE, including the challenge of taking onboard all perspectives without being able to meet in person.
In his speech, Daems called on PACE members not to ask “what the Council of Europe can do for us” but “to look at what we can do to uphold the values and therefore contribute to the activities and mission of the Council of Europe.”
Continuing, he implored the Assembly to continue their work for rights and freedoms, saying: “Why are we here? Because we care about fundamental rights and freedoms, democracy and the rule of law.”
“We, members of this Assembly, care about the fact that people are equal. Being equal is not being the same, this is why we are united in diversity. We care about human rights to be enjoyed by all citizens in all our 47 member States.”
“We care that people are free to enjoy and able to pursue their happiness. We care about the fact that no one should be above the law. This is what the rule of law is all about. Because we think, we care, we need to help people to decide. All members should be on board, this is what democracy is about.”
You can watch the full speech here.
Thank you for your continued trust and confidence. I will continue to tirelessly work to defend the values that we all share and cherish: fundamental rights and freedoms, democracy & the rule of law. #CouncilofEuropeans #PACEvoices #ParliamentaryDiplomacy https://t.co/H8kPkYIuNs pic.twitter.com/FvWQhbJ0wP— Rik Daems (@PACE_President) January 25, 2021