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Photographer: Christophe Vander Eecken

Council of Europe

The EEA and Norway Grants entered into partnership with the Council of Europe to enhance democratic principles and promote international standards in the grant schemes. The Council of Europe contributes within its core areas of expertise — human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The Council of Europe (CoE) has long been engaged in setting standards on human rights and furthering democracy and the rule of law across the European continent. The partnership between the EEA and Norway Grants and the Council of Europe is based on shared aims and values.

Drawing on expertise

The cooperation draws on the Council of Europe’s wealth of experience in areas such as justice reform, fighting corruption, trafficking and gender-based violence, and social inclusion. The EEA and Norway Grants aim to use the CoE’s expertise to increase the impact of the funding and add value at a strategic level in relevant areas.

What is the Council of Europe?

The Council of Europe (CoE) is an intergovernmental organisation, which covers virtually the entire European continent with its 47 member countries. Founded in 1949, the CoE seeks to develop common and democratic principles and the protection of individuals based on the European Convention on Human Rights.

How is the CoE involved?

The CoE is involved in 21 programmes of the Grants, covering ten beneficiary countries. The CoE advises during the development and implementation of programmes and also takes part in a number of projects.

Justice and home affairs

The CoE is involved in programmes promoting fairer and more efficient judicial systems. This includes training of legal professionals in judicial ethics and at the European Court of Human Rights as well as modernisation of IT-systems used by judges, prosecutors and legal staff in Bulgaria and Romania. Support also covers provision of legal aid for disadvantaged groups and improved assistance from the courts for victims of crime and witnesses.

The CoE is also engaged in programmes working with the police in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland to tackle problems such as corruption, trafficking in human beings and on improving relations between the police and the Roma community. In Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania and Latvia, the CoE is involved in programmes on prison reform.


Improving the situation of the Roma is a priority across the Grants and targeted programmes have been established in countries with sizeable Roma minorities such as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The CoE is involved in several programmes in this area, including on preventing early school drop-out of young Roma girls in Hungary, training of police on human rights in Bulgaria and improving living conditions for Roma communities in Romania.

Children and youth

One in four of children in the EU are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Working with the CoE, the Grants are implementing a programme in Hungary promoting education and preventing early school drop-out of marginalised children and young people, with a focus on integration through sports. In Bulgaria, the Grants are supporting the establishment of four youth centres with the CoE quality label as well as nursery schools that foster multicultural learning and the integration of Roma children.

Gender-based violence

Combating gender-based violence is vital for improving gender equality and empowering women. The CoE advises on how to bring national legislation in line with the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). Efforts are also being made to improve inter-agency communication and coordination to tackle gender-based violence.

Further cooperation

The Grants and the CoE have also teamed up in a strategic partnership, co-organising conferences on issues such as gender-based violence (2011), combating hate speech in social media (2012) and trafficking (2013). The Grants support CoE activities in beneficiary countries in the areas of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, such as constitutional reform in Romania, a conference on hate speech in Poland and promoting media freedom in Hungary.

Combating hate speech online

The EEA and Norway Grants are a strategic partner to the Council of Europe’s campaign ‘No Hate Speech Movement’. The campaign takes action against hate speech online in all its forms, and is based on human rights education, youth participation and media literacy. All NGO programmes in the beneficiary countries of the Grants are engaged in the campaign, which was launched in March 2013 and runs until summer 2015.

Country Programme Total amount
of programme
(€ million)
Bulgaria Children and youth at risk 8.4
  Domestic and gender-based violence 2.0
  Schengen cooperation and cross-border crime 6.0
  Judicial capacity building 3.0
  Correctional services 7.0
Croatia Judicial capacity building 3.2
Cyprus Home for Cooperation: support to civil society
(including strengthening dialogue on history teaching)
Czech Republic Capacity building and institutional cooperation (including improved implementation of the GRECO recommendation*) 1.8
  Correctional services 5
Hungary Children and youth at risk 11.2
Latvia Correctional services 13.1
Malta Capacity building and institutional cooperation 0.3
Poland Domestic and gender-based violence 3.0
  Schengen cooperation and cross-border crime 10.0
Romania Children and youth at risk 27.0
  Domestic and gender-based violence 4.0
  Judicial capacity building 8.0
  Correctional services 8.0
  Schengen cooperation and cross-border crime 5.0
Slovakia Local and regional initiatives 1.0
  Domestic and gender-based violence 7.0

* GRECO is the Group of States against Corruption established by the Council of Europe to monitor compliance with the organisation’s anti-corruption standards

Read the Factsheet on the EEA and Norway Grants' coooperation with the Council of Europe