Brussels Office

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  Avenue des Nerviens 85 /
  NerviŽrslaan 85
  B-1040 Brussels
  Tel: +3222304170
  Fax: +3222309462
  

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The Brussels Office:
Council of Europeís link to the European Union in Brussels

In 1975 the Council of Europe established a Liaison office to the European Union Institutions in Brussels. Over the years, Council of Europe officials have been co-operating with the European Union Headquarters in a number of areas within their competences.

Following decisions at the Warsaw Summit in 2005, and recommendations of a report of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean- Claude Juncker in 2006, the Council of Europe and the European Union on 11 May 2007 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), creating a new framework for enhanced co-operation and political dialogue. The MoU represented a new phase of the co-operation, highlighting the complementarity between the two organisations and giving a framework for developing relations and promoting human rights, democratic stability and the rule of law throughout the European continent, and pursuing co-operation in fields as intercultural dialogue, education, youth and social cohesion.

As of 2008 the Council of Europeís Brussels Office has been up-graded by a Special Representative of the Secretary General at Ambassadorís level, while the EU is represented in Strasbourg by an Ambassador of the European Commission.

On the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding, political and technical relations between the EU and the Council of Europe have developed further, both from a qualitative and quantitative point of view. There has been an intensification of high level political dialogue in order to co-ordinate responses to challenges to democratic stability in Europe.

The Council of Europe human rights standards often serve as a reference in relevant EU activities and legislation.  The legal co-operation covers many fields, like civil and criminal justice, the fight against terrorism, money laundering, trafficking in human beings, violence against women, as well as promoting the rights of the child and data protection. To promote democratic stability co-operation between the Council of Europeís activities and EUís activities of the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Enlargement Process and the Eastern Partnership Initiative has been strengthened. Co-operation is being pursued to promote intercultural dialogue, and issues relating to education and youth.

The mandate of the Brussels Office is:

  • to represent and advise the Secretary General and the Council of Europe in order to foster co-operation with the EU and its institutions in Brussels;

  • to promote the Council of Europe norms and activities on the basis of the MoU between the Council of Europe and the EU;

  • inform the Council of Europe of relevant developments in the EU;

  • promoting high-level and other contacts, and relevant networks;

  • promoting and facilitating Joint Programs between the EU and the Council of Europe;

  • to increase Council of Europeís visibility;

The Brussels Office facilitates and promotes practical co-operation and visits for a number Council of Europe institutions, like the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General, the Commissioner for Human Rights, and the working relations with the EU for the Secretariat, including the Venice Commission, CPT - European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, ECRI - European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, CEPEJ - European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, CAHDI - Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law, the North-South Centre, the European Youth Centres, and assist in preparing the regular Senior Officials meetings taking place to plan and co-ordinate co-operation at a technical level. The Brussels Office is promoting and facilitating Joint Programs between the EU and the Council of Europe, in accordance with the MoU.

The Brussels Office assists in promoting inter-institutional co-operation for the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress for local and Regional Authorities and the European Court of Human Rights.

The Brussels Office helps in preparing the regular meetings at Foreign Ministerís level of the Presidencies of the EU and the Council of Europe, with the participation of the EU Commission and the Secretariat of the Council of Europe (Quadripartite Meetings). The Quadripartite Meetings deal with the most topical and strategic issues in the cooperation, and promotes dialogue also involving member countries.

There is a review of the follow-up of the MoU and the Juncker Report on the co-operation of the Council of Europe and the EU at the regular Council of Europe Foreign Ministerís meetings, every six months, at the change of the Council of Europe Presidencies.