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Council of Europe

Conseil de l'Europe

Last modified: 2014-04-22 by ivan sache
Keywords: stars: 12 (yellow) | council of europe | conseil de l'europe | flag of honour | rings: 8 (white) | paneuropa | star (yellow) | stars: 15 (yellow) |
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[EU 12 stars flag]

Flag of the Council of Europe - Image by Željko Heimer, 1 May 2004


See also:

Other sites of interest:


Presentation of the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe was founded on 3 August 1949 by the countries marked with an asterisk in the list below. The 47 members of the Council of Europe are:

Albania | Andorra | Armenia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Belgium* | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark* | Estonia | Finland | France* | Georgia | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Iceland | Ireland* | Italy* | Latvia | Liechtenstein | Lithuania | Luxembourg* | Macedonia | Malta | Moldova | Monaco | Montenegro | Netherlands* | Norway* | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Russian Federation | San Marino | Serbia | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden* | Switzerland | Turkey | Ukraine | United Kingdom*

The following countries are "Observers to the Committee of Ministers":

Canada | The Holy See | Japan | Mexico | United States of America

The following national Parliamentsts are "Observers to the Parliamentary Assembly":

Canada | Israel | Mexico

Any European state can become a member of the Council of Europe provided it accepts the principle of the rule of law and guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms to everyone under its jurisdiction.

The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental organisation which aims are:

  • to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;
  • to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe's cultural identity and diversity;
  • to seek solutions to problems facing European society (discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, environmental protection, human cloning, AIDS, drugs, organised crime,etc.);
  • to help consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform.

The Council of Europe should not be confused with the European Union. The two organisations are quite distinct. The 27 European Union states, however, are all members of the Council of Europe.

Source: Council of Europe

Ivan Sache, 6 November 2008


Flag of the Council of Europe

Quoting a document available on the website of the Council of Europe:

The debate on a flag for the Council of Europe begins in 1949 as soon as the Organisation comes into being.
Jacques-Camille Paris, the first SG, asks the Bureau of the Assembly to examine the question of a flag in September 1949, but the Bureau decides that the question falls outside of its competence. The Secretariat receives a number of proposals from the public, many of which are still preserved in the Council of Europe Archives. Paul Lévy, Director of information, calls on local heraldic experts for assistance.
The following year the Assembly's Committee on General Affairs calls for a series of measures - including a flag - to raise public awareness of "European union". The Assembly refers the question to its Committee on Rules and Procedures and Privileges. This committee draws up a shortlist of 12 proposals, suggesting that it should be put to a vote of the members of the Assembly.

Arsene Heitz, a Council of Europe employee working in the Mail Office, who is credited with the design that is eventually adopted, begins submitting designs for the flag in 1951 and continues to submit new designs up until until 1955. His first preference is for a flag based on the standard of Charlemagne. Almost 30 designs signed by Heitz are conserved in the Archives.
Coudenhove Kalergi takes a keen interest in the events, first of all hoping that his own flag will be adopted.
The Assembly organises the referendum in December 1951.

Meanwhile Salvador de Madariaga (1886-1978) submits his own design of stars on a blue background "The European nations that were fully sovereign in 1938 will be represented each by a golden star on the spot occupied by its capital city on the map".
The referendum produces a clear result in favour of the Kalergi proposal. This evokes a strong protest from the Turkish delegation, stating that a cross would not be acceptable to them.
There follows a long diplomatic pause in the search for a flag as the Secretariat reflects on how to respond to these events.

Then the idea of a flag consisting of stars moves to the fore. Proposals based on stars, partly inspired by the USA flag, had already appeared among the 12 shortlisted for the Assembly referendum.

[Bichet's proposal]

Bichet's proposal - Image by Eugene Ipavec, 7 April 2012

The question is sent back to the Committee on Rules and Procedures and Privileges. The Committee nominates Bichet as rapporteur. In September 1953 Bichet produces a report proposing a white flag of 15 green stars. The Committee rejects this, preferring gold stars on a blue background, but retaining the 15 stars. The plenary Assembly then adopts this flag as its own emblem (25/9/53) and recommends that the Committee of Ministers follow suit.
This provokes a strong protest from Germany, since the number of stars is linked to the number of member States, which clearly includes the disputed territory of the Sarre. The Germans argue that the Committee of Ministers are the only authority competent for choosing an emblem for the Organisation as a whole.
The Ministers' Deputies refer the question to the Joint Committee (15/5/54) and ask the Assembly to suspend their use of the flag.

The Joint Committee concludes (19/5/54) that their must be a single emblem for the Organisation and that the Assembly must be associated with the choice, although the actual work will be overseen by the Committee of Ministers.
The Ministers Deputies then set up an ad hoc expert committee of three members of the Assembly (including Bichet) and three heraldic experts to study the question. This committee produces a proposal (the "Bichet proposal") for a flag of eight interlocking rings, similar to the flag of the Olympic Games. This proposal is rejected by the Deputies (the Italians compared it to a telephone, the Germans to chains) in December 1954.
In January 1955 the Secretariat mounts a mini-exhibition for the Deputies of new flag designs. From this two designs are short-listed, a Heitz design of 12 stars and the Madariaga design. The Deputies forward the two proposals to the Joint Committee, indicating their preference for the former.

In October 1955, the Assembly supports the 12 star flag (25/10/55) and recommends that the Ministers Deputies adopt it. The Deputies adopt it in December (9/12/55).
In 1986 the Deputies "take note with satisfaction" of the Decision of the European Community to use the flag as well as the European Anthem.

Phil Nelson, 21 October 2004

Thus the European flag and emblem represent both the Council of Europe and the European Community (and the European Union, since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty). It has now become the symbol par excellence of united Europe and European identity. The Council of Europe and the institutions of the European Union have expressed satisfaction with the growing awareness of the European flag and emblem among European citizens. The European Commission and the Council of Europe are responsible for ensuring that all uses of this symbol respect the dignity of the European flag and emblem, and for taking whatever measures are necessary to prevent misuse.

David Crowe, 6 November 1998


Flag of Honour of the Council of Europe

[Flag of Honour]

Flag of Honour of the Council of Europe - Image by António Martins & Željko Heimer, 10 September 2010

More than 1,000 Flags of Honour (photo) have been awarded by the Council of Europe since 1961.
On 25 November 2005 the Parliamentary Assembly's Sub-Committee on the Europe Prize determined the following statutes.

Article 1.
A Europe Prize offered by the Council of Europe shall be awarded each year by the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly to one or more municipalities which have in the Committee's opinion made outstanding efforts to propagate the idea of European unity.

Article 2.
The Europe Prize shall consist of a trophy to be held by the winner for one year, a bronze medal, a parchment and scholarship to be spent on a study visit in Europe for one or more young persons resident in the winning municipality.

Article 3.
A Plaque of Honour will be awarded to certain municipalities which have already held the Flag of Honour for several years and whose efforts to propagate the idea of European unity are considered worthy of this distinction, ranking just below the Europe Prize.

Article 4.
A Flag of Honour is awarded to certain municipalities which deserve an award in recognition of their work in promoting the European idea. These municipalities will usually be selected from among those already holding the European Diploma.
[...]

The Flag of Honour of the Council of Europe is similar to the flag of the Council of Europe, but with a light shade of blue and a golden fringe. Two blue sashes are attached to the flag, bearing the yellow writing "CONSEIL DE L'EUROPE" (French) and "COUNCIL OF EUROPE" (English), respectively.

The flag can be seen on photos taken in municipalities awarded the flag, for instance Plerguer (France, 2010), Satu Mare (Romania, 2007), Verwood and Three Legged Cross (United Kingdom, 2007), Rybnik (Poland, 2007), Bracknell (United Kingdom, 2004) and Bad Kötzting (Germany, 2001).

Ivan Sache, 1 September 2010


A light blue early variant of the flag of the Council of Europe?

Variant?

Early variant of the flag with light blue field - Image by António Martins, 14 July 2005

I remember that, when I was a young man, a 12-star flag was already in usage among the Europeistic movements (together with the former flag of the European Movement), but its colours were white stars on a light blue field.
These colours showed a clear dependence from the United Nations flag, felt as a token of peace and international understanding.

Alberto Mioni, 3 September 1999


Rejected flag proposals for the Council of Europe

Paneuropa flag

Old flag

Paneuropa flag - Image by Dieter Linder & António Martins, 21 July 2005

In 1953, the Paneuropa flag was rejected by Turkey.

Peter Diem, 11 June 2002


"Olympic" flag

[Rejected proposal]

"Olympic" flag proposal - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 July 2005

On the model of the Olympic rings, eight silver rings were proposed to symbolize unity, but were rejected because of their similarity with "dial","chain" and "zeros".

Peter Diem, 11 June 2002


Carl Weidl Raymon's proposal

[Rejected proposal]

Raymon's proposal - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 July 2005

A proposal made of a blue field with a yellow star was rejected because the design was too similar to the flag of the Belgian Congo and to the emblem of Texas.

Peter Diem, 11 June 2002


Fifteen-star proposal

[15-star proposal]

Fifteen-star proposal - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 July 2005

In 1955, Paul M.G. Lévy proposed 15 stars according to the (then) 15 member states of the Council of Europe. As this would have included Saarland, Germany did not accept this proposal.

Peter Diem, 11 June 2002


 
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