|Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe|
|Nominator||Pope of the Catholic Church|
|Formation||March 7, 1970|
The Council of Europe granted observer status to the Holy See on 7 March 1970, having maintained a lesser relationship since 1962, when the Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium was given the additional title Apostolic Delegate to the Council for Cultural Cooperation of the Council of Europe.[a]
In 1970, the Holy See established a diplomatic relationship with the European Economic Community and on 10 November appointed Archbishop Eugenio Cardinale[b] as Nuncio to the Common Market. He was given a second charge and title as "special envoy and permanent representative to the Council of Europe, the European consultative assembly in Strasbourg". The nature and status of that position has evolved as the Vatican explored how best to manage its relationship with such international bodies and how to integrate such positions into its traditional hierarchy of representatives, delegates, and nuncios. Until 2019, Cardinale's successors representing the Holy See to the Council were not bishops, nor did they have the title nuncio or other responsibilities. Bressan in 1983 was named "Special Envoy" to the Council, and his successors were named "Special Envoy with the role of Permanent Observer" until the simpler formula was adopted in 2004: "Special Envoy, Permanent Representative".[c]
Full membership in the Council is likely precluded by the Holy See's lack of democracy and human rights guarantees. In 2007, the Holy See described its role vis-à-vis international organizations:
In accordance with its special character and mission, the Holy See ... acts as an admonishing ethical force, encouraging [the international organization] to respect, in their policies, principles of justice and solidarity which make for peaceful coexistence and co-operation between peoples. Its character is manifest in what it is, and also in what it does.
It successfully argued that the Council’s review of observer states recognize its "special mission" and remove language that said "Its lack of democratic institutions and its position on certain human rights matters makes [sic] it a special case".