The European Orienteering Championships were first held in 1962. They have been held biennially since 2000. From 2020, the European Orienteering Championships will be held annually, with sprint events and forest events in alternate years
The competition format has changed several times. From the beginning in 1962, the World Championships consisted of only two competitions: an individual race and an unofficial relay. The relay event was an official event for the first time in the 1964 European Championships. EOC was not arranged from 1964 to 2000. In 2000, a sprint race (roughly 12–15 minutes winning time). In 2002, a short distance race (roughly 20–25 minutes) was added. The middle distance (roughly 30–35 minutes) replaced the short distance in 2004 On IOF's 23rd congress in Lausanne in 2012, it was decided that a sprint relay event would be added in the 2016 European Orienteering Championships in Jeseník, Czech Republic. The sprint relay are competed in urban areas and consists of four-orienteer mixed-gender teams with starting order woman-man-man-woman.