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
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.