The Council of Europe
The Council of Europe was formed in 1949 to ensure stability in Europe based on democracy, human rights, the rule of law and Europe’s common cultural heritage. Denmark is one of ten countries which have been members of the Council of Europe since its formation. Many more countries have been admitted since then, and today the Council of Europe comprises 47 Member States representing 800 million Europeans. The Council of Europe is not part of the EU institutions.
The Council of Europe has adopted a number of conventions, one of the most important being the European Convention on Human Rights from 1950, which protects the right to life, freedom of expression and other fundamental human rights. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France was established pursuant to this convention. Citizens in all 47 Member States may file a complaint with the Court of Human Rights, and the Court’s decisions affect all member states.
Political work in the Council of Europe takes place in:
- The Committee of Ministers (the ministers of foreign affairs) which is the decision-making body
- The Parliamentary Assembly
- The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The Parliamentary Assembly is made up of 324 members and 324 substitutes appointed by and among the members of the 47 national Parliaments. Members and substitutes participate on equal terms in the work in the Parliamentary Assembly.
The Parliamentary Assembly meets in Strasbourg four times a year with each parliamentary session lasting one week. In between sessions, decisions are made by the Standing Committee on behalf of the Assembly. The Standing Committee is made up of the President of the Assembly, the Vice-Presidents, the heads of the national delegations, the Chairpersons of the political groups, and the Chairpersons of the Committees.
The day-to-day work is attended to by the Bureau, made up of the President, the Vice-Presidents, the Chairpersons of the political groups, and the Chairpersons of the committees.
The work of the Parliamentary Assembly is prepared in the following nine committees:
- Political Affairs and Democracy
- Legal Affairs and Human Rights
- Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development
- Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons
- Culture, Science, Education and Media
- Equality and Non-discrimination
- Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States (Monitoring)
- Rules of Procedures, Immunities and Institutional Affairs
- Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights
The Committees discuss proposals submitted by individual members, and then draft a report to be discussed during a session of the Parliamentary Assembly. A report may include a recommendation to the Committee of Ministers, to individual member states and to the Parliamentary Assembly.
The Danish Delegation
The Danish Parliament's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe consists of five members and five substitutes. Members and substitutes participate on equal terms in the work of the Assembly.
After each general election, the delegation appoints one member and one substitute for each committee.