Against the background of blue sky, the stars form a circle, symbolising union. The number of stars is fixed, twelve being the symbol of perfection and completeness and bringing to mind the apostles, the sons of Jacob, the labours of Hercules, the months in the year. Since 1972, the European anthem has been an excerpt from the prelude to the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

The Council of Europe headquarters is in Strasbourg, France. It employs 2 200 people, and maintains external and liaison offices to other international organisations.It has several buildings, the Palais de l'Europe is the Council of Europe's principal building. Designed by French architect Henry Bernard and inaugurated in 1977. Its entrance is flanked by the flags of all the Council's member states. The outer layer of the Palais is a mosaic of contrasted colours, which are found on the concrete of the buttresses, the aluminium-covered façade and the vast windows of the conference rooms respectively. In front of the Palais the lawn was once the site of the predecessor to the Palais de l'Europe – the Maison de l'Europe. The European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest offer training for young people in democracy and human rights issues.