Secretary General of the Council of Europe

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Secretary General of the
Council of Europe
Flag of Europe.svg
Thorbjørn Jagland

since 1 October 2009; 9 years ago (2009-10-01)
Appointer Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Term length Five years
Inaugural holder Jacques Camille Paris
Formation 1949
Deputy Maud de Boer-Buquicchio

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe (French: Secrétaire général du Conseil de l'Europe) is appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly on the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers for a period of five years. He or she is entrusted with the responsibility of meeting the aim for which the Council of Europe was set up in London on 5 May 1949, namely to achieve greater unity between its Member States for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress.

Although the Secretary General's powers are not clearly defined, in practice the holder has overall responsibility for the strategic management of the Council of Europe’s work programme and budget and oversees the day-to-day running of the Organisation and Secretariat.

Secretaries General

Secretaries General of the Council of Europe
Nationality Secretary Took office Left office
Norway Norway Thorbjørn Jagland 1 October 2009
United Kingdom United Kingdom Terry Davis 1 September 2004 31 August 2009
Austria Austria Walter Schwimmer 1 September 1999 31 August 2004
Sweden Sweden Daniel Tarschys 1 June 1994 1 September 1999
France France Catherine Lalumière 1 June 1989 31 May 1994
Spain Spain Marcelino Oreja Aguirre 1 October 1984 1 June 1989
Austria Austria Franz Karasek 1 October 1979 1 October 1984
Germany West Germany Georg Kahn-Ackermann 17 September 1974 17 September 1979
Austria Austria Lujo Tončić-Sorinj 16 September 1969 16 September 1974
United Kingdom United Kingdom Peter Smithers 16 March 1964 15 September 1969
Italy Italy Lodovico Benvenuti 19 September 1957 15 March 1964
France France Léon Marchal 21 September 1953 24 September 1956
France France Jacques Camille Paris 11 August 1949 17 July 1953

Controversy around 2009 election

On May 12, 2009 the Committee of Ministers informed the Parliamentary Assembly that there would be only two candidates for the post of Secretary General: Thorbjørn Jagland (former Prime Minister of Norway) and Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz (former Prime Minister of Poland), thus rejecting a Belgian appeal to add two more people to the list of the candidates.[citation needed] Coincidentally, both candidates were Prime Ministers at the same time (1996–1997) and both are social democrats. On June 23, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly decided to postpone the election at least until its September session, thus leaving the chair empty from 1 September 2009.[1]

The Parliamentary Assembly was angered by the decision of the Committee of Ministers to remove two of the four candidates from the shortlist: Belgian senator Luc Van den Brande and Hungarian parliamentarian Matyas Eorsi, who are both members of the Parliamentary Assembly.[2] On 11 September 2009, reporting on the election controversy, Le Monde reported that the future Secretary General would inherit an institution that was in crisis.[3]

On September 30, 2009, Thorbjørn Jagland was elected as Secretary-General.[4] On June 24, 2014 he was re-elected to a second, five-year term to start on October 1, 2014.[5]


  1. Judith Crosbie (June 23, 2009). "Council of Europe defers secretary-general vote". Retrieved 29 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Smyth, Jamie (2009-05-12). "Council to battle Russia on Protocol 14". Irish Times. Retrieved 2009-09-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Smolar, Piotr (2009-09-11). "Le futur secrétaire général du Conseil de l'Europe héritera d'une institution en crise". Le Monde. Retrieved 2009-09-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "THORBJORN JAGLAND ELECTED SECRETARY GENERAL OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE". 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2009-10-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links