In 2001 CIMIC (Civil-Military Cooperation) Group North HQ (CGN HQ), was founded. By establishing an operational CIMIC HQ the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway and Poland followed a direct political requirement from the North Atlantic Council concerning the establishment of a dedicated capacity for Civil-Military Co-operation. The events in the Balkans, which clearly showed the necessity for such units, triggered NATOs request. The entire Group consisted of a deployable HQ with dedicated CIMIC units and functional specialists assigned from the nations. The Group was intended to function as a Theatre-Wide multinational CIMIC unit to be used primarily in international operations, including in NATO Collective Defence Operations.
In 2003 the Group was formally activated in this function. Later it became clear, that the operational use of the unit in a multinational context was not likely due to the changed operational environment of modern crisis response operations. It paved the way for a shift of its role into a CCOE (Civil- Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence). This appeared to be a unique opportunity, because CGN HQ already had gained a lot of essential experience for such a CCOE by conducting CIMIC courses and serving as an essential forum for CIMIC issues and consultations since 2002. This theoretical expertise was complemented by participation of the CGN HQ personnel in several CIMIC missions, such as ISAF.
Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and Allied Command Operations (ACO) stated their willingness to support this process, and in November 2004, the Sponsoring Nations took the initial decision to start the transformation of the HQ.
In November 2005, the final decision on the transformation of the former CGN HQ in to a CCOE was made by the Sponsoring Nations and supported by ACT and SHAPE. The Czech Republic and Norway withdraw their participation during this process.
The decision marked the start of a formalised accreditation procedure, which was concluded on 31 July 2007 when the North Atlantic Council granted the CCOE the status as a NATO accredited Centre of Exellence, with the status of an International Military Body, IAW Article 14 of the Paris Protocol.
In January 2008, Latvia joined the CCOE as a new Sponsoring Nation.
Although the CCOE is accredited as a NATO Centre of Excellence, its capacity and experience is also available to other international organizations like the European Union, Non Governmental Organizations and scientific institutions.
The centre is financed and controlled by the Sponsoring Nations and is not part of the NATO command structure. It is the objective of the CCOE to have as many Sponsoring Nations participating as possible, because this will enlarge the knowledge and experience level of the CCOE, and will strengthen the position of the CCOE as a body for creating (future) doctrine of Civil – Military Interaction.
Since April 2010 Slovenia is a sponsoring member of the CCOE and in Mai 2010 Hungary joined the CCOE as a Sponsoring Nation.