In order to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest, a country has to be a member of the European Broadcasting Union, which requires being within the European Broadcasting Area, or being a member of the Council of Europe. Since Australia is not in the European Broadcasting Area, it can't join that union. But can it join the Council of Europe?

Wikipedia says the following about the Council of Europe:

Article 4 of the Council of Europe Statute specifies that membership is open to any "European" State. This has been interpreted liberally from the beginning (when Turkey was admitted) to include any Eurasian state with a toe-hold in Europe.

The following seems to be the relevant article

Article 4

Any European State which is deemed to be able and willing to fulfil the provisions of Article 3 may be invited to become a member of the Council of Europe by the Committee of Ministers. Any State so invited shall become a member on the deposit on its behalf with the Secretary General of an instrument of accession to the present Statute.

Does "European" mean a country that is geographically in Europe, or can European cultural heritage make a country "European"? Has there been any statements on how the term "European" should be interpreted?

  • 1
    Isn't this more of a Eurovision Song Contest Board of Directors question than political?
    – user1530
    May 11, 2014 at 17:24
  • Sorry about the off-topic answer. I thought that I was still at your meta question when I was writing it. May 12, 2014 at 4:10
  • @DA. - I've edited the question to focus on the actual political part. The song contest is really just background.
    – Bobson
    May 12, 2014 at 14:11
  • I guess that at some point, they could, if they wanted to, remove the geographical references and let countries join independent of their location, but probably not in the near future. Mar 9, 2018 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


While the terms “European state” or “European country” might be considered ambiguous (though I’ve never heard them used in the general sense that you ascribe to them), the preamble to the Statute of the Council of Europe also speaks of the “like-minded countries of Europe”. This should make it clear that “European” is about geography here. Now, there are competing definitions of Europe’s geographical boundaries, and the term has been interpreted broadly by the Council of Europe members to include countries that are at least partly in Europe under any of the definitions; Australia, however, is no edge case – everyone agrees that it is not in Europe, so Council of Europe membership is not meant for it.

The political answer, of course, is that if any non-European country wanted to join and if the existing members were willing to make an exception and accept it, nothing would stop them. However, there is no precedent for that happening in the history of the Council of Europe.

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