Council Meetings Preparation

Council Meetings Preparation in Europe

Preparation for Council Meetings

Content about Council Meetings Preparation from the publication “The ABC of European Union law” (2010, European Union) by Klaus-Dieter Borchardt.

Preparatory work for Council meetings is carried out by two permanent bodies within its organisational structure: the Permanent Representatives Committee and the General Secretariat.

Context of Council Meetings Preparation in the European Union

The Permanent Representatives Committee, which is referred to as Coreper, a contraction of its French title Comité des représentants permanents, prepares the ground for the Council’s work and performs the tasks assigned to it by the Council. To enable it to carry out all these tasks, it is divided up into Coreper I (comprising the Deputy Permanent Representatives and primarily responsible for preparatory work on more technical matters dealt with by the various Councils) and Coreper II (comprising the Permanent Representatives themselves and basically responsible for all policy matters). Agriculture is the one area not subject to this division of tasks; a Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA, also known by its French abbreviation CSA – Comité spécial de l’Agriculture) was set up in 1960 and assumed Coreper’s tasks on agricultural matters.

More about Council Meetings Preparation in the European Union

Preparations for Council meetings by Coreper and the SCA are of two kinds. Firstly, efforts are made to reach agreement at committee level, in connection with which the committees can draw on the assistance of around 100 permanent sector-specific working parties within the Council. They may also call on the services of ‘ad hoc groups’, which are assigned to deal with a particular problem within a specified period. Secondly, preparatory work must ensure that the issues to be discussed and decided on at Council meetings have been worked out in advance, and that the Council members are properly briefed. These dual approaches are reflected in the agenda of meetings: issues on which it was possible to reach agreement are referred to as ‘A items’ and those questions which are undecided and need to be discussed further are known as ‘B items’.

Other Aspects

The General Secretariat provides administrative assistance to the Council (and also to Coreper and the SCA). In particular, it handles the technical side of preparations for meetings of the Council, is in charge of providing interpretation facilities (the representatives of the Member States speak in their own language), ensures that any required translations are provided, provides legal advice to the Council and the committees, and administers the Council’s budget.






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