Council of Europe

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Council of Europe

Council of Europe logo

Flag of the Council of Europe ( Europaflagge )

Member States
English name Council of Europe (CoE)
French name Conseil de l'Europe (CdE)
Organization type international ( regional ) intergovernmental organization (political, legal, social, economic cooperation)
Seat of the organs FranceFrance Strasbourg , France
Parliamentary Assembly Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Member States 47
founding May 5, 1949
anthem Ode to Joy (instrumental)
holiday May 5th ( Europe Day )

The Council of Europe - English Council of Europe (CoE) , French Conseil de l'Europe (CdE) - is a European international organization founded on May 5, 1949 by the Treaty of London . Today the Council of Europe has 47 states with 820 million citizens.

The Council of Europe is a forum for debates on general European issues. Its statute provides for general cooperation between the member states to promote economic and social progress.

"The task of the Council of Europe is to bring about a closer union among its members."

- Statute of the Council of Europe, Article 1

The seat of the Council of Europe is the euro Palais in French Strasbourg . Every year on May 5th, the founding day of the Council of Europe is celebrated as Europe Day.

The Council of Europe is not institutionally linked to the European Union (EU), even though both use the European flag and the European anthem . The Council of Europe should not be confused with the EU institutions, the European Council (organ of the heads of state and government) and the Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers).

In May 2007, the EU and the Council of Europe signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as a political declaration of intent .


Plaque in the auditorium of the main building of the University of Strasbourg in memory of the first Council of Europe meeting in 1949

The Council of Europe was founded by ten northern and western European countries. It received its formal statute on May 5, 1949 from Belgium , Denmark , France , Ireland , Italy , Luxembourg , the Netherlands , Norway , Sweden and the United Kingdom in the London Ten Power Pact . It is the oldest originally political organization of European states. It was founded by the European Conference on Federation at the instigation of the American Committee for a United Europe .

In addition to the economic OEEC (merged into the OECD ) and military cooperation within the framework of NATO , the political unification of the continent took on concrete forms with the Council of Europe.

The Federal Republic of Germany joined the body on July 14, 1950, initially as an associate member and became a full member in May 1951. The Saarland (until 1 January 1957 autonomous state) was already on 13 May 1950 and an associate from May 2, 1951 a full member. Austria became a member in 1956, Switzerland in 1963.

With three exceptions, all European states now belong to the Council of Europe. The Vatican City State does not, as such relations with other States, but leaves its international representation to the Holy See - the latter has a non-state subject of international law observer status in the Committee of Ministers. Belarus has been a candidate country since 1993. The admission of Kosovo will only be considered once its status has been clarified under international law. Until then, Kosovo has been granted observer status since April 2013 by two representatives of the Kosovar parliament, who can take part in the debates of the plenary sessions and in the work of the committees without voting rights.

After the controversial vote on the membership of Crimea in Russia , the Council of Europe provisionally withdrew the 18 Russian MPs from voting in April 2014 with a majority of 145 votes, 21 against and 22 abstentions. In addition, Russia is excluded from the governing bodies of the assembly until further notice, whereupon the Russian MPs boycotted the meetings of the assembly and Russia also suspended payment of its membership fees from June 2017 until further notice.

Because the withdrawal of voting rights was not regulated in the statutes of the Council of Europe and after two years without contributions the final expulsion of Russia and an election of the next Secretary General of the organization without Russian members in the Parliamentary Assembly threatened, the Council of Ministers decided on May 17, 2019 on the initiative the Finnish Presidency to introduce a new multi-stage procedure for sanctions against members in order to pave the way for Russia's full membership again.

Goal setting

Monument for human rights in front of the European Palace

The Council of Europe is a forum for debates on general European issues. In its framework, intergovernmental, binding international agreements ( Council of Europe conventions , such as the European Convention on Human Rights ) are concluded with the aim of preserving the common heritage and promoting economic and social progress.

Since 1993 the Council of Europe has devoted itself more and more to safeguarding democratic security . These include in particular:


Council of Europe plenary hall

Organizationally, the Council of Europe largely follows the usual structural pattern of international organizations, but with the notable addition of a parliamentary body.

Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly

According to Art. 10 of the Statute of the Council of Europe (EuRatS) the two statutory organs of the Council of Europe are:

  • the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in which the member states are represented by their foreign ministers or their permanent representatives in the rank of ambassador, and
  • the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe , to which the parliaments of the member states send representatives.

In the Committee of Ministers there is a Council of Ministers in which each member state of the Council of Europe is represented by its incumbent foreign minister in accordance with Art. 14 EuRatS. The Holy See, Japan, Mexico, and the United States have observer status. Each foreign minister has a permanent representative in Strasbourg. The Committee of Ministers meets once a year for a plenary session, the so-called Ministerial Conference ; the permanent representatives (also called delegates of the Committee of Ministers) meet for plenary meetings held at least once a week. They are supported in their work by diplomats who report to them.

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly from January 2016 was Pedro Agramunt . In April 2017, the Bureau withdrew his confidence and no longer allowed him to travel, comment, or represent the congregation on behalf of the congregation. As a result, the post was effectively vacant. However, it was only possible to deselect it through a rule change. A few days before the scheduled vote, Agramunt announced his resignation on October 6, 2017, and his deputy, Roger Gale , became the executive successor .

The Council of Europe is politically represented by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers and the President of the Parliamentary Assembly.

Conference of international non-governmental organizations

In 1952 the Council of Europe granted international non-governmental organizations ( INGO ) advisory status in order to “intensify the active participation of all citizens in the conduct of public affairs.” In November 2003 INGOs were granted participant status. They take their decisions at the conference of non-governmental organizations in the Council of Europe ( conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe ) and take an active part in the decision-making process of the Council of Europe and the introduction of its programs.

Other organs

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities forms the third pillar of the Council of Europe alongside the parliamentary assembly and the Committee of Ministers and is an advisory body.

The Council of Europe has established the position of Commissioner for Human Rights. This is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly and prepares reports on relevant topics or the human rights situation in individual countries.

An important part of the Council of Europe is the European Court of Human Rights , which monitors compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights . Almost half of the Council of Europe's Secretariat works for the Court of Justice in Strasbourg.

There are also a number of partial agreements of the Council of Europe, which include the European Pharmacopeia , the partial agreement in sport, the Eurimages film funding agency , the European Center for Modern Languages ​​in Graz and the North-South Center in Lisbon.

The youth department in the Directorate for Democratic Participation of the Council of Europe has European youth centers , a European youth agency and a co-management system. This co-management system enables youth representatives from European youth organizations to directly and equally participate in decisions of the member states of the Council of Europe in the field of youth.

General Secretaries of the Council of Europe

The bodies of the Council of Europe are supported by a permanent secretariat headed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. This is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly for five years. On September 18, 2019, the Croatian Marija Pejčinović Burić took over this position. The Italian Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni has been Deputy General Secretary since 2012 .

Council of Europe building in Strasbourg
Surname Life
Jacques Camille Paris 1902-1953 1949-1953 FranceFrance France
Léon Marchal 1900-1956 1953-1956 FranceFrance France
Lodovico Benvenuti 1899-1966 1957-1964 ItalyItaly Italy
Peter Smithers 1913-2006 1964-1969 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Lujo Tončić-Sorinj 1915-2005 1969-1974 AustriaAustria Austria
Georg Kahn-Ackermann 1918-2008 1974-1979 GermanyGermany Germany
Franz Karasek 1924-1986 1979-1984 AustriaAustria Austria
Marcelino Oreja Aguirre * 1935 1984-1989 SpainSpain Spain
Catherine Lalumière * 1935 1989-1994 FranceFrance France
Daniel Tarschys * 1943 1994-1999 SwedenSweden Sweden
Walter Schwimmer * 1942 1999-2004 AustriaAustria Austria
Terry Davis * 1938 2004-2009 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Thorbjørn Jagland * 1950 2009-2019 NorwayNorway Norway
Marija Pejčinović Burić * 1963 2019– CroatiaCroatia Croatia



Founding members of the Council of Europe in 1949
BelgiumBelgium Belgium IrelandIreland Ireland NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands
DenmarkDenmark Denmark ItalyItaly Italy NorwayNorway Norway
FranceFrance France LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg SwedenSweden Sweden
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Further members of the Council of Europe (by year of accession)
1949 TurkeyTurkey Turkey 1990 HungaryHungary Hungary 1995 Moldova RepublicRepublic of Moldova Moldova
GreeceGreece Greece ¹ 1991 PolandPoland Poland UkraineUkraine Ukraine
1950 GermanyGermany Germany 1992 BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria 1996 CroatiaCroatia Croatia
1950 IcelandIceland Iceland 1993 EstoniaEstonia Estonia RussiaRussia Russia
1956 AustriaAustria Austria LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania 1999 GeorgiaGeorgia Georgia
1961 Cyprus RepublicRepublic of Cyprus Cyprus RomaniaRomania Romania 2001 ArmeniaArmenia Armenia
1963 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia ² AzerbaijanAzerbaijan Azerbaijan
1965 MaltaMalta Malta SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia 2002 Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina
1976 PortugalPortugal Portugal Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic ²
1977 SpainSpain Spain 1994 AndorraAndorra Andorra 2003 SerbiaSerbia Serbia ³
1978 LiechtensteinLiechtenstein Liechtenstein 1995 AlbaniaAlbania Albania 2004 MonacoMonaco Monaco
1988 San MarinoSan Marino San Marino LatviaLatvia Latvia 2007 MontenegroMontenegro Montenegro
1989 FinlandFinland Finland North MacedoniaNorth Macedonia North Macedonia
¹ suspended from 1967 to 1974
² membership of Czechoslovakia from 1991 was not transferred to the successor states
³ as the successor to Serbia and Montenegro
Candidate countries Observer status in the
parliamentary assembly
Observer status in the Committee of Ministers
1993 BelarusBelarus Belarus 1957 IsraelIsrael Israel 1970 Holy SeeHoly See Holy See
1997 CanadaCanada Canada 1996 JapanJapan Japan
1999 MexicoMexico Mexico CanadaCanada Canada
United StatesUnited States United States
1999 MexicoMexico Mexico
Member states of the Council of Europe
  • Founding members
  • other members
  • Candidate countries
  • Observer status in the parliamentary assembly
  • Observer status in the Committee of Ministers
  • Observer status in the parliamentary assembly and in the committee of ministers
  • Special case: Belarus

    The Council of Europe's criticism is directed against, among other things, undemocratic elections, the death penalty and, in particular, the death sentences of Eduard Lykow (probably executed at the end of 2014) and Alexander Grunow . In a referendum held in Belarus in 1996, however, over 80 percent of the Belarusians who voted were in favor of the use of the death penalty.

    The government of Belarus intends to grant special guest status. The opposition advocates membership of the country, which would give Belarusian civil society access to an independent legal system (European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights).

    Council of Europe Agreement

    Such additions (The Congress / Le Congrès) to the Council of Europe logo can be found among others. a. also used in public relations (newer, further examples: ... youth ... )

    The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) of 1950 is the most important multilateral treaty within the Council of Europe; there are also 14 protocols to the ECHR to date. Overall, the Council of Europe has turned to "individual concrete measures in which the ECs / EU do not develop any activities".

    The more than 170 Council of Europe agreements include:

    Need for reform

    The Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland , who was active from 2009 to 2019 , announced a reform of the Council of Europe. In 2010, the organization should aim to “focus on its core tasks of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”. Obviously it is difficult to make any headway because the same letters of intent are repeated year after year. Eight years later, the Federal Government's report on the activities of the Council of Europe in the period from January 1 to December 31, 2017 , said unchanged in terms of content and hardly changed in language: "Secretary General Jagland wants to continue his reform and consolidation course and focus more on the work on the content Align core tasks with human rights, the rule of law and the promotion of democracy. "

    Criticism of the position of the Council of Europe

    Human rights groups like Human Rights Watch accuse the Council of Europe that it is reluctant to name violations of human rights in member states, including Azerbaijan , and that it does not disclose election fraud in the same way as the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights ( ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe .

    In June 2019, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to return the voting rights that had been withdrawn five years earlier to the Russian Federation. Otherwise, according to the statutes, Russia would have been excluded due to non-payment of contributions, which various other member states under the leadership of Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland wanted to prevent. To this end, according to observers in the Tagesspiegel , the council allowed itself to be “blackmailed” or, according to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung , gave in to the pressure of an “authoritarian state”. The Council made far-reaching concessions to Russia, such as excluding the Lithuanian Andrius Kubilius, who was unwelcome in Moscow, from running for General Secretary of the Council, working out high hurdles for sanctions against Russia and not demanding any assurance that Russia will refrain from provocation, politicians from the occupy Crimea to send to the council.


    In April 2018, an independent expert commission made up of former judges came to the conclusion that there were strong indications of corruption among several active and former members of the Council of Europe. The people had apparently taken positions in favor of Azerbaijan in return for donations and tried to prevent or mitigate declarations of disregard for human rights in Azerbaijan. Several people were named, including the former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Pedro Agramunt , and the former MEPs Eduard Lintner and Karin Strenz ( Member of the Bundestag ).


    The Council of Europe "is financed according to traditional international law through contributions from the member states according to their respective population (Art. 38 EuRatS) and the gross national product ". In 2018, the budget of the Council of Europe had a volume of 446.5 million euros. The German contribution in the 2019 budget year is EUR 36.9 million.

    See also

    40 years of the Council of Europe: German postage stamp from 1989

    Other organs:


    Funds, prizes and events:

    Other international organizations:


    Web links

    Commons : Council of Europe  - collection of images, videos and audio files
    Example of specific work by the Council of Europe
    EU and Council of Europe

    Individual evidence

    2. Council of Europe - in brief ( Memento of July 30, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
    3. ^ Council of Europe (ed.): Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union . May 23, 2007, CM (2007) 74 ( [accessed January 26, 2020]).
    4. Frank Niess: The European Idea - From the Spirit of Resistance. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2001, p. 230: “first European institution”.
    5. Thomas Brechenmacher, The Bonn Republic - Political System and Internal Development of the Federal Republic , be.bra Verlag, Berlin, Brandenburg, 2010, ISBN 978-3-89809-413-9 , p. 63
    6. Gérard de Puymège: Euro Europe. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . October 29, 2009 , accessed June 4, 2019 .
    7. ^ Council of Europe opens a crack in the door to Kosovo ( Memento from December 22, 2017 in the Internet Archive ), ZEIT ONLINE, April 23, 2013, accessed on December 19, 2017
    8. Ukraine crisis: Council of Europe deprives Russia of voting rights. In: FAZ online , April 10, 2014, accessed on January 25, 2015.
    9. Russia stops payments to the Council of Europe , Spiegel Online , June 30, 2017, accessed on December 19, 2017
    10. May 17, 2019: Russia should remain in the Council of Europe
    11. ^ Committee of Ministers. In: Retrieved March 4, 2018 .
    13. Parliamentary assembly takes important personnel decision. In: Deutschlandfunk , April 28, 2017, accessed on April 28, 2017.
    14. Iamvi Totsi: The Conference of International Nongovernmental Organization Of The Council Of Europe. (PDF; 43 kB) History, Structures, Projects. In: Democracy »Non-Governmental Organizations. Council of Europe, accessed July 23, 2014 .
    15. ^ The Council of Europe and Non-Governmental Organizations: Promoters of democracy and active citizenship in Europe. Council of Europe, accessed July 23, 2014 .
    16. Co-management. Council of Europe, accessed April 26, 2020 .
    17. ^ Marija Pejčinović Burić is the new Secretary General of the Council of Europe. In: Accessed November 12, 2019 (German).
    18. Deputy Secretary General. In: Retrieved November 12, 2019 .
    19. Human Rights and Democracy Report 2014 , Ed .: Austrian Red Cross (department ACCORD).
    20. Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on the execution of Grigory Yuseptschuk in Belarus. Ed .: Council of Europe
    22. Council of Europe resumes dialogue with Belarus ; Ed .:
    23. ^ Oppermann, Classen, Nettesheim: European law. 4th edition. Munich 1999, p. 26, Rn. 9
    24. quoted from Herdegen: Europarecht. 13th edition. Munich 2011, p. 9 f., Rn. 6 f.
    25. BGBl. 1956 II p. 564
    26. European Cultural Agreement - full text ( Wikisource )
    27. BGBl. 1959 II p. 997
    28. BGBl. 1961 II p. 81
    29. BGBl. 1964 II p. 1261
    30. BGBl. 1976 II pp. 649, 658
    31. Federal Law Gazette 1970 II p. 909
    32. BGBl. 1990 II p. 34
    33. BGBl. 1985 II p. 539
    34. Federal Law Gazette 1989 II p. 946
    35. BGBl. 1994 II p. 335
    36. BGBl. 1998 II p. 1314
    37. BGBl. 1997 II p. 1048
    38. ILM 36 [1997], p. 817
    39. ILM 37 [1998] p. 44
    40. Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. Council of Europe Treaty Series - No. 197, Warsaw, May 16, 2005
    42. ^ Report of the Federal Government on the activities of the Council of Europe in the period from July 1 to December 31, 2009 , information from the Federal Government, printed matter 17/1496, German Bundestag, 17th electoral period April 21, 2010, p. 2, right column (PDF )
    43. Report of the Federal Government on the activities of the Council of Europe in the period from January 1 to December 31, 2017 (= Bundestag printed paper 19/1794) of April 16, 2018, p. 4.
    44. ^ Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe . In: The Economist , March 22, 2013, accessed January 3, 2019.
    45. a b Claudia von Salzen: “No reason to celebrate” ; Daily mirror from May 4, 2019.
    46. a b Werner J. Marti: "The Council of Europe kisses before Russia" ; Neue Zürcher Zeitung from June 25, 2019.
    47. Experts see “strong suspicion” of corruption in the Council of Europe , Süddeutsche Zeitung of April 23, 2018.
    48. ^ Report of the Independent Investigation Body on the allegations of corruption within the Parliamentary Assembly , April 15, 2018, pp. 72, 90–91, 129, 146 and others, accessed on January 3, 2019.
    49. ^ Oppermann, Classen, Nettesheim: European law. 4th edition. 1999, p. 24, Rn. 6th
    50. Budget , accessed on January 3, 2019. The information that the total budget amounts to in 2018 contradicts the information on the same website of the Council of Europe that the total budget in 2018 amounts to 406.7 million euros.
    51. Program et budget 2018-2019 du Conseil de l'Europe - 2019 ajusté , December 18, 2018, Table 2: Contributions nationales aux budgets du Conseil de l'Europe pour 2019 (en €) , after p. 183.