Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Torbjorn Froysnes, and Michael Köhler signing new cooperation agreements between CoE and EU


European Union-Council of Europe cooperation started over two decades ago at pan-European level. The cooperation proved to be successful and, in 2011, the two organisations decided to deepen their partnership by joining efforts to support the democratic reform agenda in the Southern Mediterranean.

In this sense, the European Union Neighbourhood Policy  and the Council of Europe’s Policy towards Neighbouring Regions  underpinned the launch of the first-ever Joint Programme between the European Union and the Council of Europe in the Southern Mediterranean -  “Strengthening democratic reform in the Southern Neighbourhood 2012-2014” (South Programme I) – signed in 2012 by Commissioner Füle and Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

Following the successful experience of the South Programme I, the two organisations resolved to undertake a much deeper and strategic Joint Programme co-operation in the EU 2014-2020 financial perspectives. The signing of a “Statement of Intent” by Commissioner Füle and Council of Europe’s Secretary General Jagland in April 2014 represented an important first step in this sense. The agreement put forward new modalities for co-operation with a view to fine tune co-ordination and to enhance impact and sustainability of Joint Programmes rolled out in the countries of the South Mediterranean, as well as the EU enlargement countries and the countries covered by the EU Eastern Partnership.

This co-operation framework has been extended with the signature on 22 December 2014 of the second phase of the South programme, amounting to EUR 7.37 M for the period 2015-2017 by top Council of Europe and European Union representatives.