The European security architecture

The graphic provides an overview of membership in the most important international organizations and initiatives in the European security policy context – and, we believe, with success. But above all: up to date.

The graphic shows (from outside to inside)

  • OSCE
  • Council of Europe
  • EU
  • NATO
  • EAPR / PfP
  • Eastern Partnership of the EU

The numbers in brackets after the names or abbreviations of the organizations indicate the number of full members.

Organizations in and for Europe

The above-mentioned organizations are shown geographically in the graphic on the right. Please note: On the one hand, EAPR / PfP are not included (whose members are covered by the OSCE), on the other hand, the Mediterranean Union has been added.

The meaning of the abbreviations can be found in the following glossary and the table at the bottom of the page. Recommendation: Print out both the graphics and the glossary so that you can view these related and complementary parts together.


  1. EAPR / PfP
    EAPR and PfP are not independent organizations, but structured NATO initiatives. They were included in the graphic to illustrate the overcoming of the east-west antagonism. The members of the EAPC are identical to those of the PfP.
  2. Partnerships of NATO
    According to extrareference, the three “show of hands” in the graphic above next to Russia, Ukraine and Georgia symbolize on the one hand the high-ranking “NATO-Russia Council”, on the other hand the “NATO-Ukraine Committee” located one level below and the “NATO” -Georgien Committee “. With these institutions the two largest successor states of the Soviet Union as well as the Caucasus state Georgia are connected in a special way with NATO.
  3. Eastern Partnership of the EU
    With the partnership initiated in May 2009, the three Eastern European countries that have not yet been integrated and the three South Caucasus countries are offered special long-term relationships with the prospect of EU accession. De facto, the final “borders” of Europe are likely to emerge (see also “Eastern Partnership” in the subject area of ‚Äč‚ÄčEurope and its neighbors).
  4. WEU
    The Western European Union was no longer included in the chart as its tasks and institutions were taken over by the EU and the organization was dissolved in 2011. For more information on the history and development of the Western European Union, see the internal subject area “Security in and for Europe”, there under the keyword “WEU”.

Developments in recent years (selection)

2020 NATO – March 27: North Macedonia joins NATO for the 30th time.
2020 EU – February 1: Great Britain leaves the EU.
2019 NATO – February: North Macedonia joins NATO.
2017 NATO – June: Montenegro becomes the 29th NATO member state.
2014 EU – March: Iceland withdraws its application to join the EU. This leaves five EU accession candidates.
2014 EU – June: Albania becomes an official candidate for EU membership.
2013 EU – July: Croatia becomes the 28th EU member state.
2012 OSCE – November: Mongolia becomes OSCE Member No. 57 (although not part of the “hard core” of the countries in the earlier East-West conflict).


And yet it does move, the old continent – slowly, slice by slice and hardly noticed by most. Admittedly, the latest developments don’t make it easier to keep track of things. The multitude of European organizations is overwhelming and hard to see through. The above statements make it clear, among other things:

  1. There is a “core Europe” of 21 states, which are represented in all the organizations listed. Of the EU members, only 6 states are missing from this expanded core Europe, namely the neutral states Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Austria and the two island states Malta and Cyprus.
  2. The Europe of the Council of Europe ends with Russia’s membership in the Pacific. “Europe’s” neighbors would include North Korea, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Brave or daring?
  3. The Europe of the Council of Europe, like the “Eastern Partnership” of the EU, also includes the three countries of the Caucasus. The only country of the former Soviet Union that is geographically clearly located in Europe and not a member of the Council of Europe is Belarus.
  4. The EAPR / PfP and OSCE memberships are now almost identical. The only OSCE members who are still missing from the EAPC are the EU state Cyprus, the five European small states Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Vatican City and Mongolia.

overview of the organizations and initiatives

EU European Union
(European Union)
NATO Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty
(North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
EAPR Euro-
Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC)
PfP Partnership
for Peace
Council of Europe Independent organization, not to be confused with the “European Council” of the EU
(Council of Europe – COE)
OSCE Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – OSCE)