Forerunner for European unity celebrates 60 years of helping to define the continent

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The first steps towards European unity in the aftermath of World War II were taken at the Hague Congress in May 1948. Under the chairmanship of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, representatives from 16 countries met to lay the foundations for a European Union, a consultative assembly and a European Court of Human Rights.

One year later, in May 1949, the Council of Europe was founded in London. The new organisation was signed into existence by ten states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Today, the Council of Europe consists of 47 member states. The most recent member is Montenegro.

The President of the French National Assembly, Edouard Herriot, opened the first meeting of the Consultative Assembly (later to become the Parliamentary Assembly) on August 10 1949 at the University of Strasbourg.

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