It is the continent’s oldest political organisation. Since its creation in 1949, its member states have agreed more than 170 conventions. These cover a broad range of concerns, from the prevention of torture to the protection of minorities to policing cybercrime to banning the cloning of human beings.
The Council grew significantly with the fall of the Iron Curtain, becoming truly pan-European as new members joined. It is distinct from the EU, although, since the enlargement of the European Union, the bloc’s place in the now 46-nation Council has become more prominent; the EU-25 form a majority.
The goal of the Council of Europe’s third summit of heads of state and government is to ensure the Council’s relevance for 800 million citizens, and guarantee the challenges they face are being addressed. The President of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, René van der Linden, says it will not be commandeered:
“I can not accept that The European Union takes it over in a very arrogant way.”
The Council’s legal arm is the European Court of Human Rights, based, as is the Council, in Strasbourg. Because of it’s uncontested and increasing success, its workload management needs reform. Ratification of this is on the summit agenda. Jean-Paul Costa, a French judge at the Court, says:
“I think the future of the Court will be to maintain a quasi-constitutional role in Europe with a more efficient filtering out system, since many of the requests we get are not receivable in the end.”
Conventions on fighting terrorism, money laundering and human trafficking will also be signed in Warsaw. In domains already covered by EU directives, notably where human rights are concerned, EU members will continue to apply EU community laws.