At their 4th Summit held in Reykjavik on 16-17 May 2023, Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe committed to strengthening the role of the Council of Europe in the European multilateral architecture and in global governance by enhancing its external dimension, through, inter alia, a new engagement based on its core values with democracies in the world and its southern neighbourhood”.

At its Istanbul session in May 2011, the Committee of Ministers adopted a Policy towards neighbouring regions, covering countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia which request Council of Europe assistance, based on the common values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The Policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions aims primarily at extending co-operation beyond the continent and at developing a common legal space based on Council of Europe values and instruments in order to promote the stability and democratic security of both Europe and its neighbouring regions. It is based on the 2011 “Istanbul parameters”, according to which, co-operation with the countries concerned from North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia will be, in particular, demand-driven, tailored and flexible, whilst entirely governed by Council of Europe values and standards.

This Neighbourhood Policy is based on two pillars: a Neighbourhood Dialogue and Neighbourhood Co-operation Activities.

Within the Secretariat, the Directorate of Political Affairs and External Relations (DPAER) has the primary responsibility for the Neighbourhood Dialogue and the Directorate of Programme Co-ordinatioon (DPC) has the primary responsibility for the Neighbourhood Co-operation Activities.

The Policy has developed in close co-ordination with the European Union.

In 2012 and 2014, the Committee of Ministers discussed proposals for a new status for Non-Member States (see documents SG/Inf(2012)9 , SG/Inf(2013)1‑rev and SG/Inf(2013)33-rev ). These proposals eventually led to the adoption of Neighbourhood Partnerships with Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, for 2015-2017. The Neighbourhood Partnerships combine and strengthen the two pillars of the Policy - political dialogue and co-operation - by offering a framework for an “Enhanced Political Dialogue”.

At present, in the framework of this Policy, there are:

  • Time-limited Neighbourhood Partnerships with Morocco and Tunisia, combining an enhanced political dialogue and co‑operation.
  • Time-limited Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities with Kazakhstan.
  • Regional activities and targeted ad hoc co-operation with other countries of the Southern Mediterranean and Central Asia.
  • Other forms of co-operation developed to cover other countries/situations, notably Israel.

In November 2021, the Committee of Ministers reviewed the Council of Europe Policy towards neighbouring regions, in the context of its 10th anniversary, on the basis of proposals submitted by the Secretary General (see SG/Inf(2021)14). The review clarified, inter alia, its geographical scope and conditionality, in the light of the Organisation’s strategic priorities and implementation capacities. In this framework, the Committee of Ministers renewed its “Neighbourhood Partnerships” with Morocco and Tunisia for the period 2022-2025, while calling on the Tunisian authorities to respect and guarantee democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law in Tunisia.

For more details, see also : Directorate of Programme Co-ordination (DPC)


Review of the 2011 Neighbourhood Policy

Committee of Ministers and Secretary General's documents

Neighbourhood Partnerships

Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities

Progress Reports

Other documents