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Can a European give me the quick version on what they are and on the differences between the two? I know what the EU is (I think), but I'm not familiar with the Council of Europe. They're both have .int domains, which means they're both recognized as international organizations with some sort of diplomatic purpose.
Council of Europe is one of the bodies which constitutes the European Union
According to them [coe.int]:
The Council of Europe is the continent's oldest political organisation, founded in 1949. It: [...] is distinct from the 15-nation European Union
Is the CoE just deprecated in favor of the EU? If not, why the autonomy?
Well, it's a good question. If the US is both a member of the OAS and of the OECD, who "wins" if they make a contradictory rule?
Google turned up this presentation: www.stanhopecentre.org/ict/materials/eu_coe_policy.ppt
The EU is all about justice and economincs. The EU regulates about everything, from the size of standard boxes to VAT percentages. Democracy and some other values are required to become a member.
I was researching some privacy laws, and the Council of Europe has different laws than the European Union, apparently.
Think of the European Union as a federation of independent countries who are slowly integrating with the intention to become a single country. (At the moment there are negotiations about a single constitution for the EU.)
The Council of Europe however is a loose union of countries, comparable to the UN or the OECD.