The aim of the study was to compare current policy, organisation and coverage of cervical cancer screening programmes in the European Union (EU) member states with European and other international recommendations. According to the questionnaire-based survey, there are large variations in cervical cancer screening policies and inadequacies in the key organisational elements of the programme such as registration and monitoring required for quality-assurance and fail-safe mechanisms. Based on data from available screening registers, coverage of the screening test taken within the population-based programme was below 80% in all programmes, ranging from 10% to 79%. The screening capacity is satisfactory in most EU member states, however, and there is even over-capacity in several countries. There are also countries which do not have an acceptable capacity yet. Control of proper capacity along with education, training and communication among women, medical professionals and authorities are required, accordingly. The study indicates that, despite substantial efforts, the recommendations of the Council of the EU on organised population-based screening for cervical cancer are not yet fulfilled. Decision-makers and health service providers should consider stronger measures or incentives in order to improve cervical cancer control in Europe.