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The Permanent Representatives Committee or Coreper (Article 16(7) of the Treaty on European Union — TEU and Article 240(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — TFEU) is responsible for preparing the work of the Council of the European Union.

Each EU Member State is represented in Coreper by a Permanent Representative (Coreper II) and a Deputy Permanent Representative (Coreper I) with the status of ambassador to the European Union.

Coreper occupies a pivotal position in the EU’s decision-making system. It coordinates and prepares the work of all meetings of the Council and attempts to find, at its level, an agreement which will be subsequently submitted for adoption by the Council. It also ensures consistency of the EU’s policies and actions and sees to it that the following principles and rules are observed:

  • the principles of legality, subsidiarity, proportionality and providing reasons for acts;
  • rules setting out the powers of EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies;
  • budgetary provisions;
  • rules on procedure, transparency and the quality of drafting.

It ensures adequate presentation of each file to the Council and, where appropriate, it presents guidelines, options or suggestions.

The agendas for Council meetings reflect the progress made in Coreper. Coreper’s agenda is divided into 2 parts:

  • Part I includes items which do not in principle require discussion, and which will normally be ‘A’ items on the Council's agenda (i.e. items which, as prepared by Coreper, could be approved by the Council without discussion);
  • Part II requires discussion.

However, if Coreper reaches an agreement on a Part II item on its agenda, that item will normally be included as an ‘A’ item on the Council’s agenda, which consists of:

  • A items, to be approved without discussion following agreement within Coreper;
  • B items, which require discussion.

Coreper is divided into 2 parts:

  • Coreper I prepares the work of 6 Council configurations:
    • Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Affairs;
    • Competitiveness (Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space);
    • Transport, Telecommunications and Energy;
    • Agriculture and Fisheries;
    • Environment;
    • Education, Youth, Culture and Sport.
  • Coreper II prepares the work of 4 Council configurations:
    • General Affairs;
    • Foreign Affairs;
    • Economic and Financial Affairs;
    • Justice and Home Affairs.

In principle, Coreper meets every week. Preparations for its work are made the day before by the closest collaborators of the members of Coreper who meet under the names:

  • Mertens Group for Coreper Part 1;
  • Antici Group for Coreper Part 2.

These groups review the agenda for Coreper I and II, respectively, and settle technical and organisational details. This preparatory stage also makes it possible to form an initial idea of the positions which the various delegations will take at the Coreper meeting.

Coreper may adopt procedural decisions listed in Article 19(7) of the Council’s Rules of Procedure (for example, decision to hold a Council meeting in a place other than Brussels or Luxembourg, decision to use the written procedure).