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Council of Europe

Conseil de l'Europe

Last modified: 2006-01-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: stars: 12 (yellow) | council of europe | conseil de l'europe | flag of honour | rings: 8 (white) | paneuropa | star (yellow) | stars: 15 (yellow) |
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[EU 12 stars flag]by Željko Heimer

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Members and aims of the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe was founded on 3 August 1949 by the countries marked with an asterisk in the list below. The present members of the Council of Europe are:

Albania | Andorra | Armenia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Belgium* | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark* | Estonia | Finland | France* | Georgia | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Iceland | Ireland* | Italy* | Latvia | Liechtenstein | Lithuania | Luxembourg* | Macedonia | Malta | Moldova | Netherlands* | Norway* | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Russian Federation | San Marino | Serbia and Montenegro | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden* | Switzerland | Turkey | Ukraine | United Kingdom*

The following countries are "Observers to the Commitee of Ministers":

Canada | The Holy See | Japan | Mexico | United States of America

The following countries are "Observers to the Parliamentary Assembly":

Canada | Israel | Mexico

Any European state can become a member of the Council of Europe provided it accepts the principle of the rule of law and guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms to everyone under its jurisdiction.

The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental organisation which aims are:

  • to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;
  • to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe's cultural identity and diversity;
  • to seek solutions to problems facing European society (discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, environmental protection, human cloning, AIDS, drugs, organised crime,etc.);
  • to help consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform.

The Council of Europe should not be confused with the European Union. The two organisations are quite distinct. The 15 European Union states, however, are all members of the Council of Europe.

Source: Council of Europe

Ivan Sache & Stefan Polt, 28 May 2003

Origin of the flag of the Council of Europe

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.

David Crowe, 6 November 1998

Description of the flag of the Council of Europe

Album des Pavillons [pay00] states that the flag of the Council of Europe shall have a blue golden fringed cravate with the words:


Ivan Sache, 8 January 2001

Flag of Honour of the Council of Europe

The Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe created in 1961 an "European Honour Flag" programme which is bestowed on cities and local authorities throughout Europe for their European action and city-twinning activities.

On behalf of the Assembly, the committee selects candidates for, and the winners of, the Europe Prize. This prize, recommended in 1953 and set up on 20 June 1955, is designed to reward municipalities and local and regional authorities which have made a distinctive commitment to promoting the European ideal. Each year, the Parliamentary Assembly grants four awards (the European Diploma, the Flag of Honour, the Plaque of Honour and the Europe Prize). Winners are selected by the Sub-Committee on the Europe Prize, which submits its choices to the full committee for ratification.

The Flag of Honour of the Council of Europe is conferred on those municipalities or other local authorities which, in the Committee's opinion, deserve this distinction in recognition of their work in promoting the European idea. The European Honour Flag is awarded for a year.
The Diploma, Flag of Honour, Plaque of Honour and Europe Prize represent a hierarchical progression; that is, a city must have received the Diploma before it can receive the Flag, and so on. Although only one Europe Prize is awarded each year, several cities may receive the "lesser" awards (the flag of honour is awarded to ~30 cities and several hundred local authorities each year).

The European Honour Flag is apparently the European Union flag although in at least one case (Opole, Poland) a special flag seems to have been designed combining the city's flag with the European Union's circle of stars.

On 25 March 1984, an "Association of Towns Awarded the Europe Prize" was created. It doesn't seem to have a flag of its own.

Source: Council of Europe.

Daniel U. Thibault, 25 October 2001

A light blue early variant of the flag of the Council of Europe?

Variant?by António Martins

I remember that, when I was a young man, a 12-star flag was already in usage among the Europeistic movements (together with the former flag of the European Movement), but its colours were:

white stars on a light blue field.

These colours showed a clear dependence from the United Nations flag, felt as a token of peace and international understanding.

Alberto Mioni, 3 September 1999

Rejected flag proposals for the Council of Europe

Paneuropa flag

Old flagby Dieter Linder & António Martins

In 1953, the Paneuropa flag was rejected by Turkey.

Peter Diem, 11 June 2002

"Olympic" flag

[Rejected proposal]by Ivan Sache

On the model of the Olympic rings, eight silver rings were proposed to symbolize unity, but were rejected because of their similarity with "dial","chain" and "zeros".

Peter Diem, 11 June 2002

Carl Weidl Raymon's proposal

[Rejected proposal]by Ivan Sache

A proposal made of a blue field with a yellow star was rejected because the design was too similar to the flag of the Belgian Congo and to the emblem of Texas.

Peter Diem, 11 June 2002

Fifteen-star proposal

[15-star proposal]by Ivan Sache

In 1955, Paul M.G. Lévy proposed 15 stars according to the (then) 15 member states of the Council of Europe. As this would have included Saarland, Germany did not accept this proposal.

Peter Diem, 11 June 2002