Member states of the Council of Europe

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Council of Europe member states as of 16 March 2022.
  Founding member states
  Subsequent member states
  Former member states

The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by ten western and northern European states,[1] with Greece[2][3] joining three months later, and Iceland,[4][5] Turkey[6][7] and West Germany[8][9] joining the next year. It now has 46 member states, with Montenegro being the latest to join.

Article 4 of the Council of Europe Statute specifies that membership is open to any European country, provided they meet specific democratic and human rights standards.[10] Nearly all countries with territory in Europe have acceded to the Council of Europe, with the exceptions of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Vatican City, as well as states with limited recognition.


State[11] Capital Date joined Notes
 Netherlands Amsterdam 5 May 1949 Founder
 Belgium Brussels 5 May 1949 Founder
 Luxembourg Luxembourg 5 May 1949 Founder
 Denmark Copenhagen 5 May 1949 Founder. Denmark includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland, but some Council of Europe conventions which Denmark participates in do not apply to these territories.
 France Paris 5 May 1949 Founder
 Norway Oslo 5 May 1949 Founder
 Sweden Stockholm 5 May 1949 Founder
 United Kingdom London 5 May 1949 Founder
 Ireland Dublin 5 May 1949 Founder
 Italy Rome 5 May 1949 Founder
 Greece Athens 9 August 1949[2][3] Withdrew temporarily from Council membership due to the Greek case during the military dictatorship. See Greece in the Council of Europe.
 Iceland Reykjavík 7 March 1950[4][5]
 Turkey Ankara 13 April 1950[6][7]
 Germany Berlin 13 July 1950[8][9] The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the Saar Protectorate became associate members in 1950. The Federal Republic became a full member in 1951. The Saar acceded to the Federal Republic in 1957, and the states of the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic upon reunification in 1990. East Germany had never been a member of the Council.
 Austria Vienna 16 April 1956
 Cyprus Nicosia 24 May 1961
 Switzerland Bern 6 May 1963
 Malta Valletta 29 April 1965
 Portugal Lisbon 22 September 1976
 Spain Madrid 24 November 1977
 Liechtenstein Vaduz 23 November 1978
 San Marino San Marino 16 November 1988
 Finland Helsinki 5 May 1989
 Hungary Budapest 6 November 1990
 Poland Warsaw 26 November 1991
 Bulgaria Sofia 7 May 1992
 Estonia Tallinn 14 May 1993
 Lithuania Vilnius 14 May 1993
 Slovenia Ljubljana 14 May 1993
 Czech Republic Prague 30 June 1993 Previously a member of the Council as part of Czechoslovakia from 21 January 1991 to the latter's dissolution on 31 December 1992.
 Slovakia Bratislava 30 June 1993 Previously a member of the Council as part of Czechoslovakia from 21 January 1991 to the latter's dissolution on 31 December 1992.
 Romania Bucharest 7 October 1993
 Andorra Andorra la Vella 10 November 1994
 Latvia Riga 10 February 1995
 Moldova Chișinău 13 July 1995
 Albania Tirana 13 July 1995
 Ukraine Kyiv 9 November 1995
 North Macedonia Skopje 9 November 1995 Until 12 February 2019 called Republic of Macedonia, officially referred to as "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" due to a naming dispute.
 Croatia Zagreb 6 November 1996
 Georgia Tbilisi 27 April 1999
 Armenia Yerevan 25 January 2001 See Armenia in the Council of Europe
 Azerbaijan Baku 25 January 2001 See Azerbaijan in the Council of Europe
 Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo 24 April 2002
 Serbia Belgrade 3 April 2003 Originally joined as Serbia and Montenegro. After Montenegrin independence in 2006, the Committee of Ministers declared that the Republic of Serbia would continue the membership of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.[12]
 Monaco Monaco 5 October 2004
 Montenegro Podgorica 11 May 2007 Previously a member of the Council as part of Serbia and Montenegro from 2003.

Former members[edit]

State[11] Capital Date joined Date left Notes
Saarland Saarbrücken 13 August 1950 1 January 1957 Saarland joined West Germany on 1 January 1957.
Czech Republic Czechoslovakia Prague 21 January 1991 31 December 1992 Dissolved on 31 December 1992; successor states Czech Republic and Slovakia rejoined the Council on 30 June 1993.
Serbia and Montenegro Serbia and Montenegro Belgrade 3 April 2003 5 June 2006 Dissolved after Montenegrin independence in June 2006. Serbia was declared to continue the former union's seat on 14 June 2006; Montenegro joined 11 May 2007.
 Russia Moscow 28 February 1996 16 March 2022 See Russia in the Council of Europe. Suspended from its rights of representation in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly on 25 February 2022 due to invasion of Ukraine.[13] Russia announced that it would no longer participate in the organization on 10 March 2022.[14] On 15 March 2022 Russia launched a withdrawal procedure from the Council, delivering its formal notification to withdraw effective 31 December 2022. On 16 March 2022 the Committee of Ministers decided to expel Russia with immediate effect.[15]
This coin was issued in Armenia to commemorate Armenia's accession to the Council in 2001.


Special Guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly was established in 1989, as a provisional status in the accession process for parliaments of European non-member states, which applied for membership in the Council of Europe. The aim of the special guest status is to foster closer relations with the national parliaments of the European non-member states, by enabling the parliament concerned to be represented in, and work with, the Assembly, especially in determining the accession conditions.[16]


Belarus applied for full membership on 12 March 1993, and its parliament held special guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly from September 1992 to January 1997. The special guest status was however suspended as a consequence of the November 1996 constitutional referendum upholding the death penalty, and parliament by-elections which the CoE found to be undemocratic, as well as enforced limits on democratic freedoms such as freedom of expression (cf. Belarusian media) under the administration of President Alexander Lukashenko. A second change of the Belarus constitution in October 2004, moreover "does not respect minimum democratic standards and violates the principles of separation of powers and the rule of law".[17] In June 2009, PACE decided that the suspension of the Belarusian parliament's special guest status in the Assembly would only be lifted conditional of the government imposing a moratorium on the death penalty. As of May 2013, this condition had not been met.[18]


Kazakhstan applied for the Special Guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly in 1999. The Assembly found that Kazakhstan could apply for full membership, because 4% of its territory, west of the Ural river, is located in Europe,[19] but granting Special Guest status would require improvements in the fields of democracy and human rights. Kazakhstan signed a co-operation agreement with the Assembly in April 2004.

In November 2006, the Kazakhstan Parliament officially asked to be granted observer status with the Assembly, which however was never granted due to requiring a pre compliance with all CoE core values and principles.[16] The country acceded to the Council of Europe's European Cultural Convention on 24 February 2010.[20] On 15 to 16 March 2010, the President of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) made an official visit to Kazakhstan,[21] resulting in the conclusion that the Council of Europe and Kazakhstan strengthen their relations. This milestone emboldens Kazakhstan's "Path to Europe" programme, as outlined by Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana in 2008.[22]

In December 2013, a Joint Declaration on enhancing cooperation between Kazakhstan and the Council of Europe in 2014–15, was signed with the purpose of paving the way for Kazakhstan's accession to the Council of Europe's multiple conventions in the field of criminal justice.[23][24]


The Assembly of Kosovo was invited to take part in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and its committees as an observer in 2016.[25][26]

Hashim Thaçi, Kosovo's Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated in December 2014 that an application for membership of the Council of Europe was planned to be filed within the first quarter of 2015.[27] On May 12, 2022, Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla-Schwarz submitted the application for membership at a meeting with the Council's leadership in Strasbourg.[28][29] Kosovo is already de facto under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.[30] On 20 March 2023, Kosovar prime minister Albin Kurti said during a meeting with foreign diplomats in Pristina, that as a result of the EU proposed agreement, approved by Kosovo and Serbia two days earlier, the road for Kosovo to join the Council of Europe is now open.[31] On 24 April 2023, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe approved Kosovo's application for membership with 33 votes in favour, 7 against and 5 abstentions, allowing the application to progress to the Parliamentary Assembly.[32][33][34]


  Ten founding members
  Joined subsequently
  Official candidates
  Former members
  Observer at the Parliamentary Assembly
  Observer at the Committee of Ministers
  Observer at the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly

Vatican City[edit]

Despite being in Europe, Vatican City has never applied for Council of Europe membership, choosing to become an observer instead. However, there have been calls for it to apply to become a contracting party to the European Convention on Human Rights.[35]

Other countries[edit]

Observer status was designed for non-European democracies willing to contribute to democratic transitions in Europe.[16]

Canada, Japan, Mexico, the U.S. and the Holy See have observer status with the Council of Europe and can participate in the Committee of Ministers and all intergovernmental committees. They may contribute financially to the activities of the Council of Europe on a voluntary basis.

The parliaments of Canada, Israel and Mexico have observer status with the Parliamentary Assembly and their delegations can participate in Assembly sessions and committee meetings. A deligation representing the Assembly of Kosovo has also been invited to participate the Parliamentary Assembly on an ad hoc basis. Representatives of the Palestinian Legislative Council may participate in Assembly debates concerning the Middle East as well as Turkish-Cypriot representatives from Northern Cyprus concerning the island.

There has been criticism concerning the observer status of Japan and the United States because both countries apply the death penalty.[36] The Parliamentary Assembly has been lobbying for the United States and Japan to abolish the death penalty or lose their observer status. The Council also voted to restore Special Guest status to Belarus, on condition that Belarus declares a moratorium on the death penalty.


In May 2009, the Parliamentary Assembly established a new status for institutional co-operation with parliaments of non-member states in neighboring regions wishing to be supported by the Parliamentary Assembly in their democratic transitions and to participate in the political debate on common challenges.[16]

The new status is called "Partner for democracy" and interested states could obtain it if they commit to embrace the values of the Council of Europe such as pluralist democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; to encourage a moratorium on executions and abolish the death penalty; to organize free and fair elections; to become party to the relevant CoE conventions; to utilize the expertize of the Assembly and the Venice Commission in its institutional and legislative work.[16]

CoE has adopted the policy of dialogue with the neighboring regions of the southern Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Asia – based on respect for universal human rights. Following this policy the Assembly has already established working contacts with parliaments of neighbouring countries other than those of the CoE Observers: Algeria, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tunisia and the Palestinian Legislative Council. Several of these parliaments have expressed interest in upgrading the status of the existing co-operation, and in establishing a relationship on a permanent basis.

Since 1994, parliaments of the countries bordering the Council of Europe member states have the possibility of concluding special co-operation agreements with the Assembly, but it has not generated much interest among the parliaments concerned, which suggests that it does not offer sufficient clarity and visibility. So far only the Kazakhstan Parliament had taken advantage of it since 2004.

In November 2006, the Kazakhstan Parliament officially asked to be granted observer status with the Assembly. Such formal or informal requests are made by a number of parliaments that are already co-operating with it but think that the institutionalized recognition of that co-operation could make it more visible, more coherent and more effective. However the observer status is considered inappropriate in these cases, as it requires that the state receiving it already complies with the CoE core values and principles, which is not the case for the states currently requesting it, who are in the early stages of democratic transition.[16]

The newly established "Partner for democracy" status is similar to the co-operation initiatives of other intergovernmental organizations of mostly European states such as the European Neighbourhood Policy of the EU, the partners for co-operation of OSCE, the cooperation with non-member states of NATO.

The national parliaments eligible to request a "Partner for democracy" status are from the following countries:[16]

As of 2015 the following parliaments have been accorded "Partner for democracy" status:[38][39]


  1. ^ "Statute of the Council of Europe is signed in London". Council of Europe. Retrieved 23 June 2019. On 5 May 1949, at St James's Palace, London, the Foreign Ministers of Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom signed the Treaty establishing the Council of Europe.
  2. ^ a b "Greece joins". Council of Europe. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Greece - Member state". Council of Europe. Retrieved 23 June 2019. Greece became the 11th member State of the Council of Europe on 9 August 1949.
  4. ^ a b "Iceland joins". Council of Europe. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Iceland - Member state". Council of Europe. Retrieved 23 June 2019. Iceland became the 12th member State of the Council of Europe on 7 March 1950.
  6. ^ a b "Turkey joins". Council of Europe. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
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  8. ^ a b "Federal Republic of Germany joins the Council of Europe". Council of Europe. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Germany - Member state". Council of Europe. Retrieved 23 June 2019. Germany became the 14th member State of the Council of Europe on 13 July 1950.
  10. ^ "Full list". Council of Europe. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Member states". Council of Europe. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Continuation by the Republic of Serbia of membership of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in the Council of Europe". Council of Europe. 14 June 2006. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  13. ^ "Council of Europe suspends Russia's rights of representation". Council of Europe. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  14. ^ "Russia will no longer participate in Council of Europe - TASS". Reuters. 10 March 2022.
  15. ^ "COE Press release: "The Russian Federation is excluded from the Council of Europe"". 16 March 2022. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Establishment of a "Partner for democracy" status with the Parliamentary Assembly". Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe. 14 May 2009.
  17. ^ "Belarus: a referendum under a 'hardening dictatorial regime'". Council of Europe. 2004. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  18. ^ "Secretary general hopes that Belarus will join Council of Europe". 22 May 2013. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013.
  19. ^ "Situation in Kazakhstan and its Relations with the Council of Europe". Document 11007: II General information, point 11. Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe. 7 July 2006.
  20. ^ Council of Europe - Committee of Ministers - 1074 Meeting, 13 January 2010 – 7.4 European Cultural Convention (ETS No. 18)
  21. ^ "PACE President in favour of strengthening relations with Kazakhstan". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  22. ^ "STATE PROGRAMME - 'PATH TO EUROPE - 2009-2011' - ASTANA 2008". Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  23. ^ "Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities for Kazakhstan 2014–2015: Co-operation activities on Council of Europe's conventions in criminal matters". Council of Europe. 9 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Joint Declaration on enhancing cooperation between Kazakhstan and the Council of Europe signed in Brussels". Kazinform. 20 December 2013.
  25. ^ "Assembly of Kosovo*". PACE. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  26. ^ "The situation in Kosovo* and the role of the Council of Europe". PACE website. 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  27. ^ Kosovo applies to become EC member within three Archived 20 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^[bare URL]
  29. ^ Bailu, Doruntina; Cvetkovic, Sandra (12 May 2022). "Kosovo Applies For Council Of Europe In Move Sure To Anger Serbia". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 30 May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ Istrefi, Kushtrim (2018). "Kosovo's Quest for Council of Europe Membership". Review of Central and East European Law. 43 (3): 255–273. doi:10.1163/15730352-04303002. ISSN 1573-0352.
  31. ^ Rexha, Xhemajl [@xhemajl_rexha] (20 March 2023). "#Kosovo PM, @albinkurti says the country's road to become a member of @coe is now open after the #Ohrid Agreement with #Serbia. This after meeting all the ambassadors accredited in Prishtina." (Tweet). Retrieved 14 April 2023 – via Twitter.
  32. ^ Si, Nen (24 April 2023). "Kosovo successfully passes the first phase of membership in the Council of Europe".
  33. ^ Bami, Xhorxhina (24 April 2023). "Kosovo Passes First Step to Council of Europe Membership".
  34. ^[bare URL]
  35. ^ "Catholic women urge Vatican to sign Europe rights convention". Arab News. 12 December 2021.
  36. ^ "Europarådet kan frånta USA observatörsstatus". Yelah. 2004. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  37. ^ Libya is observer of the Union for the Mediterranean.[citation needed]
  38. ^ "Council of Europe body gives Palestinians 'partner' status". The Daily Star. 5 October 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  39. ^ "Middle East News". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  40. ^ PACE grants 'Partner for democracy' status to the Palestinian National Council, Strasbourg, 04.10.2011: "In June this year, the Parliament of Morocco became the first to be granted the new status" (archived from
  41. ^ "2011 ORDINARY SESSION, Thirtieth sitting, Tuesday 4 October 2011". Archived from the original on 7 March 2014.
  42. ^ PACE discusses situation in Ukraine, reconsiders Russian Archived 9 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine