Council of Europe

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The Council of Europe (French: Conseil de l'Europe) is one of the oldest international organisations working towards European integration, having been founded in 1949. It has a particular emphasis on legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. It has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens. It is distinct from the European Union (EU) which has common policies, binding laws and only twenty-seven members. The two do however share certain symbols such as their flag.

Its statutory institutions are the Committee of Ministers comprising the foreign ministers of each member state, the Parliamentary Assembly composed of MPs from the Parliament of each member state, and the Secretary General heading the secretariat of the Council of Europe. The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote the awareness of and respect for human rights in the member states.

The most famous conventional bodies of the Council of Europe are the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, which sets the quality standards for pharmaceutical products in Europe. The Council of Europe's work has resulted in standards, charters and conventions to facilitate cooperation between European countries and further integration.

The seat of the Council of Europe is in Strasbourg, France with English and French as its two official languages. The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress also use German, Italian, and Russian for some of their work.

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