The Council of Europe and the European Union share the same fundamental values – human rights, democracy and the rule of law – but are separate entities which perform different, yet complementary, roles.
Focusing on those core values, the Council of Europe brings together governments from across Europe – and beyond – to agree minimum legal standards in a wide range of areas. It then monitors how well countries apply the standards that they have chosen to sign up to. It also provides technical assistance, often working together with the European Union, to help them do so.
The European Union refers to those same European values as a key element of its deeper political and economic integration processes. It often builds upon Council of Europe standards when drawing up legal instruments and agreements which apply to its 28 member states. Furthermore, the European Union regularly refers to Council of Europe standards and monitoring work in its dealings with neighbouring countries, many of which are Council of Europe member states.
The Lisbon Treaty increased the scope for European Union action in many areas where the Council of Europe already has significant experience and expertise. This has led to increased cooperation on issues such as fighting human trafficking, the sexual exploitation of children and violence against women. It has also opened the way for the European Union itself to sign up to the European Convention on Human Rights, and to other Council of Europe agreements.
Relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union are set out in the:
- Compendium of Texts governing the relations between the Coucil of Europe and the European Union
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union
Moreover, the European Union participates in the various meetings of the Committee of Ministers.
The European Union has signed and/or ratified following treaties:
- European Agreement on the Exchange of Therapeutic Substances of Human Origin
- Agreement on the Temporary Importation, free of duty, of Medical, Surgical and Laboratory Equipment for use on free loan in Hospitals and other Medical Institutions for purposes of Diagnosis or Treatment
- European Agreement on the Exchanges of Blood-Grouping Reagents
- Convention on the Elaboration of a European Pharmacopoeia
- European Agreement on the Exchange of Tissue-Typing Reagents
- European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes
- Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats
- European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes
- Protocol to the Convention on the Elaboration of a European Pharmacopoeia
- European Convention relating to questions on Copyright Law and Neighbouring Rights in the Framework of Transfrontier Broadcasting by Satellite
- Protocol of Amendment to the European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes
- Convention on Information and Legal Co-operation concerning "Information Society Services"
- European Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport (Revised)
- Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism
The European Union takes part:
- as a member, represented by the European Commission, in the European Audivisual Observatory
- as a member in the European Pharmacopoeia
- as a member in the Pompidou Group
- with a special status, represented by the European Commission, in the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission)
The European Union may send representatives to the meetings (but has no right to vote or defrayal of expenses) of the following Council of Europe Intergovernmental Committees:
- Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM)
- Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI)
- European Committee for Social Cohesion (CDCS)
- European Committee on Migration (CDMG)
- European Health Committee (CDSP)
- Ad hoc European Committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency (CAHAMA)
- Steering Committee for Culture (CDCULT)
- Steering Committee for Education (CDED)
- European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ)
- Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research (CDESR)
- Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage and Landscape (CDPATEP)
- Joint Council on Youth (CMJ)
- European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR)
- Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
- Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE)
- European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ)
- Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH)
- Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men (CDEG)
- Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC)
- European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC)
- Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER)
- European Co-ordination Forum for the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015 (CAHPAH)
The European Commission has an observer status in the Standing Committee of the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches.
The actual Annual Receipts on EU contributions under Joint Programmes between the Council of Europe and the European Union, registered between 1 January and 31 December 2010, amounted to €20.1 million.
These accounted for 68% of all 2010 income from extrabudgetary contributions, confirming the EU as the major external contributor to CoE activities.