Mission and history

The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) is a multilateral development bank with an exclusively social mandate.

The CEB’s mission is to promote social cohesion in Europe, defined as “the capacity of a society to ensure the well-being of all its members, minimising disparities and avoiding marginalisation”.

The CEB pursues its mission by financing social investment and projects that serve vulnerable people, across three lines of action:

  • Investing in people and enhancing human capital;
  • Promoting inclusive and resilient living environments;
  • Supporting jobs and economic and financial inclusion.

The CEB is active in the sectors of health and social care, education and vocational training, administrative and judicial infrastructure, historic and cultural heritage, social and affordable housing, urban rural and regional development, natural or ecological disasters, environmental protection, MSME financing, and microfinance.

Three cross-cutting themes guide the way in which CEB activities are designed and implemented across all sectors: climate action, gender equality, and digitalisation.

The Strategic Framework 2023-2027 serves as the reference framework for the CEB’s activity and sets its strategic directions in light of the operating context.

For the period 2023-2027, the CEB pursues three overarching objectives:

  • Respond to evolving social development and inclusion challenges in a flexible manner;
  • Invest in the assistance and integration of refugees and migrants, in their host communities, and in preparedness for future migratory dynamics;
  • Support the reconstruction and rehabilitation needs of Ukraine’s social sectors.


The CEB has its origins in the political upheavals that Europe experienced following the Second World War, leading to a flood of refugees and displaced persons into Western Europe.

The oldest European multilateral development bank, the CEB was established in 1956 by eight Member States of the Council of Europe on the basis of a partial agreement in order to bring solutions to the problems of refugees. Signed on 16 April 1956 by eight countries, the Bank is the first of the Partial Agreements to have been concluded.

Key dates in the history of the CEB

1956: the CEB was created in the form of a Resettlement Fund with a capital of less than 7 million US dollars.

1960s-1980s: over the decades, the CEB steadily increased its membership, financial resources and scope of action in line with changes in social priorities. Born in the aftermath of a divided Europe, the CEB experienced particular impetus with the reunification of the European continent after the fall of the Berlin Wall. More specifically, three Council of Europe Summits of Heads of State and Government, helped shape what the Bank is today.

1993: the Vienna Summit signalled a wave of new members from the countries of Central, Eastern, and then South-Eastern Europe joining the Bank, which at the time was still a Fund.

1997: the Strasbourg Summit widened the CEB’s mandate to include strengthening social cohesion, alongside the priorities set out in its Articles of Agreement.

2005: the Warsaw Summit, whilst continuing to support the Bank’s traditional mission, also invited the CEB to contribute in its own way to the development of a free, democratic and more inclusive European society.

Since 2008, the protracted crisis in Europe and its impact on the lives of populations have made the CEB’s mandate and action as a social development bank more relevant than ever.

Relations with the Council of Europe

Eugène Claudius Petit adressing the Council of Europe
Eugène Claudius Petit adressing the Council of Europe
Working to strengthen social cohesion in accordance with its mandate, through its lending activity the Bank promotes the values and principles of the Council of Europe. It is nevertheless a separate legal entity and financially independent.

As evidence of these institutional links, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe issues an opinion on admissibility in terms of compliance with the Council of Europe’s political and social objectives for all the projects that the Bank submits to its Administrative Council for approval.