Applications for the European Diploma are sent to the Council of Europe by the relevant national authorities and submitted to the Group of Specialists on the European Diploma for Protected Areas which shall state whether the area in question is of exceptional European interest.

An on-the-spot appraisal can be organised to examine in detail the characteristics of the area, the effectiveness of the protection measures, the management quality and the problems. After that, the Group of Specialists decides whether to forward the application to the Committee of Ministers, which is the body, entitled to decide on the award the European Diploma to the area concerned. In most cases, the proposal of the Group of Specialists to award the Diploma is accompanied by recommendations and, where appropriate, conditions to improve the management of the area or the system for protecting it.

The Diploma is awarded for five years. It may be renewed for a period of 10 years, renewable for successive 10 year period.

The Diploma has a unique supervisory mechanism. An annual report must be sent to the Council of Europe by the authorities responsible for the management of each Diploma holding area and aimed to present the actions and measures taken by the managing authorities over the past year in order to comply with the recommendations and/or conditions attached to the European Diploma.

The year before the validity of the European Diploma is due or in the event of a serious threat to an area or a substantial deterioration of the site, an on-the-spot appraisal may be decided by the Group of Specialists on the European Diploma for Protected Areas and conducted by independent experts.

The on-the-spot appraisal visit reports are examined by the Group of Specialists and ground its decisions for renewing the European Diploma or for keeping areas under scrutiny.

For all the Diploma holding areas, the applications to the European Diploma, the annual reports and their assessment by the Group of Specialists, the on-the-spot appraisal visit reports, the Resolutions awarding or renewing the European Diploma are available here below.