Secretary General of the Council of Europe

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.

Secretary General of the
Council of Europe
Marija Pejčinović Burić

since 18 September 2019; 20 months ago (2019-09-18)
AppointerParliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Term lengthFive years
Inaugural holderJacques Camille Paris
DeputyGabriella Battaini-Dragoni

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

Country Secretary Took office Left office
 France Jacques Camille Paris 11 August 1949 17 July 1953
 France Léon Marchal 21 September 1953 24 September 1956
 Italy Lodovico Benvenuti 19 September 1957 15 March 1964
 United Kingdom Peter Smithers 16 March 1964 15 September 1969
 Austria Lujo Tončić-Sorinj 16 September 1969 16 September 1974
 West Germany Georg Kahn-Ackermann 17 September 1974 17 September 1979
 Austria Franz Karasek 1 October 1979 1 October 1984
 Spain Marcelino Oreja Aguirre 1 October 1984 1 June 1989
 France Catherine Lalumière 1 June 1989 31 May 1994
 Sweden Daniel Tarschys 1 June 1994 1 September 1999
 Austria Walter Schwimmer 1 September 1999 31 August 2004
 United Kingdom Terry Davis 1 September 2004 31 August 2009
 Norway Thorbjørn Jagland 1 October 2009 18 September 2019
 Croatia Marija Pejčinović Burić 18 September 2019 Present

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 Mátyás Eörsi, 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]

2019 election

Four member states proposed candidates by 10 January 2019, who were then considered by the Committee of Ministers. Among them, the two who were selected to progress to be voted on by the Parliamentary Assembly[6] were Belgium's foreign minister Didier Reynders and Croatia's foreign minister Marija Pejčinović Burić. Pejčinvoić Burić was elected by a margin of 54 votes and will take office on 15 October 2019.

Nominated for consideration by the Committee of Ministers:

Selected by the Committee to be voted on by the Parliamentary Assembly:

The Parliamentary Assembly voted on the candidates on 26 June 2019