The European Centre was established as the European Centre for Social Welfare Training and Research in 1974 in Vienna, based on an Agreement between the United Nations and the Federal Government of Austria as the Host Government. It is set up as a non-profit institution subject to the law and jurisdiction of the Host Country. Agreements signed in 1978 and 1981 between the Host Government and the United Nations have reconfirmed the European Centre as an autonomous intergovernmental organization affiliated to the United Nations. Statute amendments and an adjustment of the Centre's name to its present form were implemented in 1989.Regarding the UN affiliation the statutes of the European Centre define among others:
"The Centre shall be an autonomous institution and shall be based on cooperation
between the Federal Government of Austria and the United Nations, especially the
governments of the other UN member states, the members of the Specialized Agencies
or of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in particular those in Europe."
"The Centre shall promote cooperation between the governments of the UN-European region, public bodies, intergovernmental and other international and non-governmental organizations, as well as the private sector, active in the field of social welfare, with special emphasis on policy and research. In this pursuit, the Centre will closely collaborate with the United Nations Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs in carrying out the European Social Development Programme in particular."
"Membership of the Board of Directors is open to candidates nominated by States in Full Cooperation status with the Centre. Following nominations by the States concerned, the Board shall propose candidates for appointment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations."
"After the competent authorities of the Host Country, the Cooperating States and the United Nations have confirmed which funds shall be available for the relevant budget period, the annual budget of the Centre shall be drawn up by the Executive Director."
"The Chair of the Board shall be the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations."
"The Executive Director shall be nominated by the Austrian Federal Government in consultation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations; his appointment shall be approved by the Board."
- United Nations European Social Development Programme (UN-ESDP) (1972 - 1974)
- Conference of Ministers for Social Affairs, Warsaw 1987
- Inter-Regional Consultation, Vienna 1987
- Conference of Ministers for Social Affairs, Bratislava 1993, "Welfare in a Civil Society"
- World Summit for Social Development (WSSD), Copenhagen 1995
- Regional Follow-up to the WSSD, Vienna 1998, "Innovative Employment Initiatives"
- Assistance to the Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) for the Second World Assembly on Ageing, Madrid 2002, and the International Plan of Action on Ageing (IPAA)
- Assistance to UN-ECE Geneva for the Ministerial Conference on Ageing, Berlin 2002, and the Regional Implementation Strategy (RIS)
- Mainstreaming Ageing: Indicators to Monitor Implementation (MA:IMI/I), in co-operation with UN-ECE, Geneva, 2003 - 2007
- Mainstreaming Ageing: Indicators to Monitor Implementation (MA:IMI/II), in co-operation with UN-ECE, Geneva, 2008 - 2012/14