Speakers and presidents of parliament from the 47 Council of Europe member states will gather in Strasbourg from 22 to 23 May 2008 for a major summit conference on the twin themes of "parliaments and civil society" and "national parliaments and the Council of Europe: promoting the core values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law".

      According to the CE Communication Office, hosted by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), the European Conference of Presidents of Parliament will look at good practices for enabling civil society to influence policy and debate through parliamentary processes and will seek to strengthen legislators` links with the Council and its values.

      The Presidents of international parliamentary bodies, as well as Speakers from observer states to the Assembly (Canada, Israel, Mexico), are also invited. Around 300 participants are expected.

      Following the opening of the conference by PACE President Lluís Maria de Puig, there will be presentations on the conference themes from the Speakers of the Hungarian National Assembly, the Swedish Parliament, the Albanian People`s Assembly and the Netherlands Senate.

      The Secretaries-General of the participating parliaments and assemblies are also due to hold a separate meeting.

      The first European Speakers` Conference was held in 1975. It takes place every two years, hosted alternately in Strasbourg or in the capital of a Council of Europe member state.