European Council vs Council of European Union vs Council of Europe

The European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe are two distinct organisations that are often mixed up by law students. The European Council and the Council of the European are two distinct EU institutions that often baffles students studying EU law.

European Council (EUCO)
The EUCO is part of the EU executive branch that sets the overall political direction and priorities of the EU. It is a summit of heads of state or government of EU member states, along with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission. It addresses issues that require the input of national leaders, such as major policy guidelines and crisis management.

Council of the European Union (Council)
The Council of the European Union, often referred to as the Council of Ministers or just the Council, is one of the main EU institutions representing the member states' governments. The Council consists of representatives from the member states, usually ministers from the national governments, depending on the policy area being discussed. It plays a crucial role in the legislative process, working with the European Parliament to adopt laws. It also coordinates policies and makes decisions on various issues, depending on the configuration, such as the Foreign Affairs Council, Economic and Financial Affairs Council.

Council of Europe (CoE)
The CoE is a separate intergovernmental organisation that predates the EU. It is not an EU institution, but it has a distinct role similar to the EU in promoting cooperation among European countries. The CoE has a larger membership than the EU, including countries that are not part of the EU. It focuses on issues such as human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. It is known for creating the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, which plays a key role in protecting human rights across its member states.

In summary, both European Council and the Council of the European Union are part of the EU, whereas the Council of Europe is an international organisation independent from the EU. The European Council provides strategic guidance to the EU, the Council of the European Union deals with legislative and policy matters, and the Council of Europe is an intergovernmental organisation focusing on human rights and democracy in a broader European context.
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