The Council of Europe - 800 million Europeans

Symbolic description

Since its foundation in 1949, the Council of Europe has been aware of the need to give Europe a symbol with which its inhabitants can identify. On 25 October 1955 the Parliamentary Assembly made the unanimous decision to adopt a circle of gold stars on a blue background as an emblem. On 8 December 1955 the Committee of Ministers adopted this as the European flag.

The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly repeatedly expressed the desire that other European institutions should adopt the same symbol in order to strengthen the idea of solidarity between the different organizations in a united and democratic Europe.

It was the European Parliament which took the initiative for a flag to be adopted for the European Community. In 1979 a draft resolution was presented, shortly after the first European elections held by universal suffrage. In a resolution adopted in April 1983 the Parliament decreed that the Community's flag should be that adopted by the Council of Europe in 1955. The European Council, meeting at Fontainebleau in June 1984, stressed the importance of promoting the European image and identity in the eyes of its citizens and the world. Then, in Milan in June 1985, it gave its approval to the proposal of the Committee on a People's Europe (Adonnino Committee) that a flag should be adopted by the Community. The Council of Europe agreed to the use by the Community of the European flag that it had adopted in 1955 and Community institutions have been using it since the beginning of 1986.

Thus the European flag and emblem represent both the Council of Europe and the European Community (and the European Union, since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty). It has now become the symbol par excellence of united Europe and European identity.

The Council of Europe and the institutions of the European Union have expressed satisfaction with the growing awareness of the European flag and emblem among European citizens. The European Commission and the Council of Europe are responsible for ensuring that all uses of this symbol respect the dignity of the European flag and emblem, and for taking whatever measures are necessary to prevent misuse.

(This graphic guide is intended to help users reproduce the European emblem correctly. It includes instructions on how to create the emblem and a definition of the standard colours.)

How the twelve stars were born

The idea for a European flag dates from the early 1920s. The two main forerunners: Count Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Pan-European union flag, a yellow circle with a red cross on a blue background, and the European Movement’s green E on a white background. Neither inspired much support and no serious attempt was made to promote the idea of flag until the Council of Europe became Europe’s first official political organization in 1949.

A small selection of unsuccessful design proposals for the European Flag

Geometrical Description

The emblem is in the form of a blue rectangular flag of which the fly is one and a half times the length of the hoist. The 12 gold stars situated at equal intervals form an undefined circle, of which the centre is the point of intersection of the diagonals of the rectangle. The radius of the circle is equal to one-third the height of the hoist. Each of the stars has five points which are situated on the circumference of an undefined circle of which the radius is equal to one-eighteenth the height of the hoist. All stars are upright - that is to say, with one point vertical i.e. pointing upwards, and two points in a straight line at right angles to the mast.

The circle is arranged so that the stars appear in the position of the hours on the face of a clock. Their number is invariable.


The emblem is in the following colours: PANTONE REFLEX BLUE for the surface of the rectangle; PANTONE YELLOW for the stars. The international PANTONE range is very widely available

Pantone Reflex Blue

Pantone Yellow

Four-colour process (CMYK)

If the four-colour process is used, it is not always possible to use the two standard colours. It is therefore necessary to recreate them by using the colours of the four-colour process. The Pantone yellow is obtained by using 100% `Process yellow'. Mixing 100% `Process cyan' and 80% `Process magenta' gives a colour very similar to the Pantone reflex blue. The two colour samples, reproduced opposite, are obtained by using the `Process' colours of the four-colour process in the suggested proportions.



100% process cyan


80 % process magenta

100% process yellow

Single-colour reproduction

If only black is available, the rectangle should be outlined in black and the stars should be black on a white background.

If the only colour is blue (preferably reflex blue), it should be printed at 100 % as background with the stars left in white.

Incorrect reproduction

  1. The emblem is upside down.
  2. The stars are not upright.
  3. The stars are wrongly positioned in the circle: they must appear in the position of the hours on the face of a clock.




Use by third parties

Requests from non-member States of the European Union should be made to the Council of Europe [Directorate General of Legal Affairs, F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, Fax 33 (0)3 88 41 20 52] .

Staff of the European Commission [direction «Coordination I», rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Bruxelles] and of the Council of Europe are available to examine proposed uses of the emblem.

The use of the European emblem may be authorised only if it is not:

  • likely to create confusion between the user and the European Union or the Council of Europe;
  • linked to aims or activities incompatible with the principles and objectives of the European Union or the Council of Europe.

Authorisation to use the European emblem implies no right of exclusive use. It does not permit the appropriation of the emblem, or of any similar trade mark or logo, whether by registration or by any other means.

Pantone 1245

Pantone 383

Pantone 280


A political organisation set up in 1949, the Council of Europe works to promote democracy and human rights continent-wide. It also develops common responses to social, cultural and legal challenges in its 47 member states.
2002 - The Council of Europe Information Office - Tbilisi.