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The Council of Europe's Relations with the European Union
The Council of Europe and the European Union (EU) have a long tradition of co-operation which draws on their shared values: human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Each benefits from the other’s respective strengths and comparative advantages, competences and expertise, whilst avoiding unnecessary duplication.
The European Union is the Council of Europe’s most important institutional partner at both political and technical levels. Co-operation embraces all sectors of the Council of Europe and a wide spectrum of activities, making the European Union an “across the board” partner.
To quote Jean-Claude Juncker, “the Council of Europe and the European Union were products of the same idea, the same spirit and the same ambition. They mobilised the energy and commitment of the same founding fathers of Europe.” Since the creation of the European Community, the forerunner of the European Union, co-operation between the two organisations has been very intense. Co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union is currently governed by the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two organisations. The MoU confirms the role of the Council of Europe as the benchmark for human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Europe, stipulates the need for coherence between the two Organisations’ legal norms in the fields of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and encourages the Council of Europe and the European Union to work together even more closely in the future.
Co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union takes the form of both high-level political contacts and joint activities.
Permanent high-level dialogue between the two organisations take place at the level of the Secretary General and the President of the European Commission, the Vice-President of the European Commission/High Representative for Security and Foreign Policy and other Commissioners. In addition, high-level meetings take place involving the Secretary General, the Chair of the Committee of Ministers and the Vice-President of the European Commission/High Representative.
With regard to joint activities, numerous joint programmes to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, and to address education, youth issues, and social affairs, are implemented. These Joint Programmes represent the largest source of funding sustaining Council of Europe technical assistance and co-operation projects in support of democratic stability. The global financial volume of contracts being implemented in 2011 reached € 103.7 million, of which the EU’s contribution amounted to € 91.6 million (88%), and that of the Council of Europe to € 12.1 million (12%).
Co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union is subject to regular review by the Committee of Ministers, in particular, on the occasion of the annual Ministerial Sessions.
In accordance with the Lisbon Treaty which foresees that the European Union shall accede to the European Convention on Human Rights, accession negotiations are currently underway. The EU’s accession to the Convention will represent an important milestone in the pan-European human rights protection system.
The Council of Europe and the European Union are mutually represented in Brussels and Strasbourg respectively, to ensure the best possible coordination. The Council of Europe’s Liaison Office with the European Union in Brussels plays a pivotal role in promoting the organisation’s work vis-à-vis European Union institutions. In that perspective, it organises and/or facilitates a large number of meetings and contacts between senior officials of both organisations, as well as meetings with media representatives and NGOs. The Delegation of the European Union to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg also plays a key role in the promotion of co-operation between the two organisations. In particular, the Head and other members of the Delegation regularly participate in meetings of the Ministers’ Deputies and its rapporteur groups.
Framework of Co-operation
· Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union (2007)
· Council of Europe - European Union: "A sole ambition for the European continent" - Report by Jean-Claude Juncker (2006)
· Compendium of texts governing the relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union (2001)
· Agreement on co-operation between the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Council of Europe (2008)
"The impact of the Lisbon Treaty on the Council of Europe"- Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1982(2011) -Reply adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 28 march 2012 at the 1138th meeting of the Ministers'Deputies
Decision on Co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union- Summary Report, 16 November 2011
Decisions of the Committee of Ministers on Relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union, adopted on 11 May 2010 (120th Ministerial Session)
High-level Political Dialogue Meetings between the EU and the Council of Europe (former "Quadripartite" Meetings)
Meetings of Senior Officials
Report on the Annual meeting of Senior Officials of the European Union and the Council of Europe (16 December 2009)
Liaison Office of the Council of Europe with the European Union
European Union website
Delegation of the European Union to the Council of Europe
 “Council of Europe-European Union : as le ambition for the European continent”, Jean-Claude Juncker, April 2006