Profile: Council of Europe
Council of Europe (CoE)
founded in 1949
47 states (the 27 EU states plus Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine). Montenegro and Belorus have also applied to join. Five more states have observer status (the Holy See (Vatican), the United States of America, Canada, Japan and Mexico). Germany joined on 13 July 1950.
“The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress” (Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe). Since it came into being, the Council of Europe has worked constantly to promote human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law, and has set the course for a democratic Europe. The Council of Europe also aims to foster awareness of Europe’s common cultural identity in all its diversity, to promote the ongoing growth of that identity and to seek solutions to society’s problems in Europe, including environmental issues.
The Council of Europe’s main decision-making body is the Committee of Ministers. This is made up of the foreign affairs ministers of all member states, or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg. The Parliamentary Assembly has 636 members (318 representatives and 318 substitutes) from the 47 national parliaments. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has two chambers: a Chamber of Local Authorities and a Chamber of Regions. The Council of Europe holds the ‘Environment for Europe’ series of pan-European ministerial conferences specifically on the environment and serves as the Secretariat to the Bern Convention. Member states work together on nature conservation issues under the Pan-European Biodiversity and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS) and in networks of protected areas (the Pan-European Ecological Network and the Emerald Network). The Council of Europe awards the European Diploma for protected areas of exceptional European interest.
Council of Europe Avenue de l’Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel: +33-3 88 41 20 00
BfN supports and advises the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) primarily in meeting its obligations under the Bern Convention and in preparing for Environment for Europe ministerial conferences.