The difference between the European Council and the Council of Europe
The titles of these two European institutions sound very similar to one another, making them simple to confuse. We break down the key distinctions between the European Council and the Council of Europe.
The European Council is not the same as the Council of Europe. This is a great example of how the European Council and the Council of Europe work: even though their names are almost the same, they don't have much to do with each other. So, it's important not to get them mixed up when talking about one or the other.
Given how complicated the European Union is as a group of countries that work together on economic and political issues, it has grown several institutions that work together to run the Union. The European Council is in charge of making decisions, so it is at the top of the Union's organization chart.
The Heads of Government and State of the 28 Union members make up the European Council. The President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, another Union institution, are also members. Instead of taking sides in the normal legislative process of the EU, the European Council is in charge of setting political guidelines for the EU as a whole. In other words, it decides which issues are most important for the EU to deal with.
This institution was started in 1974 as a place for informal meetings between the leaders of the members of the European Economic Community, which was the organization that came before the EU. It meets every three months and has been an official Union forum since 1992. As the highest level forum, the European Council is in charge of things like setting the Union's common foreign and security policy, appointing people to positions in higher bodies like the European Commission or the European Central Bank, and finding solutions to the most sensitive and complicated political issues, like Brexit.
The European Union has nothing to do with the Council of Europe. This organization was set up when the Treaty of London was signed on May 5, 1949, which was even before the EU. Its mission is to protect and defend human rights in Europe and to promote democracy and the rule of law. The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which was signed in 1950 but didn't go into effect until 1953, is the organization's main document. It helps achieve these goals.
It spells out all the civil and political rights of European citizens and makes sure that the countries that are part of the institution have to follow them. Also, the European Court of Human Rights is a watchdog body within the Council of Europe. Its jurisdiction has been mandatory since 1998, but it has been working since 1959, making it the oldest court working in the field of human rights.
The founding document of the Council of Europe says that only European countries can be members. However, this does not mean that other countries can't join as observers. This is true of places like Mexico, Canada, the Holy See, Japan, Israel, and the United States. The Council of Europe is made up of 47 countries right now. These countries include the 28 countries in the European Union as well as Switzerland, Turkey, Norway, and Russia. Even though the Council of Europe works on the European continent, it has nothing to do with the European Union institutions.
Council of the European Union
The Council of the European Union is a third institution whose name is often mixed up with those of the other two. The Council of the European Union is part of the European Union's institutional structure, just like the European Council. The Council of the European Union is made up of the ministers of each Member State of the Union from each of the ministerial portfolios, depending on the topic. They make decisions on behalf of the government they represent and take part in the legislative process along with the European Parliament.