Belgium and the Council of Europe
Belgium is one of the ten founding members of the Council of Europe. This is logical, because the Council of Europe was founded as a reaction to the horrors of the World Wars, in which Belgium paid a heavy price. It was a Belgian, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Paul-Henri Spaak, who chaired the first meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, held from 8 to 13 August 1949 in Strasbourg’s City Hall.
Belgium attaches great value to the Council of Europe. The Council stimulates and defends the European values of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as defined in the European Convention on Human Rights. The organisation was also assigned the duty to strive for greater unity among its members. In the meantime, this role as an engine of European integration has been partly taken over by the European Union for a part of the membership.
The Council of Europe is a source of innovative regulation, for instance when it comes to cyber crime, violence against women or fraud in sports. It continuously monitors compliance with human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the Member States, and sounds the alarm when necessary. Finally, the Council of Europe played an important role in the transition of the former Eastern Bloc countries.