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What is COREPER?

COREPER is the designation of the two working groups/committees of officials whose task is the preparation of meetings of the Council. COREPER is an acronym made up of the initial letters of the French title for the Committee of Permanent Representatives, Comité des Représentants Permanents.

COREPER comprises the Permanent Representatives of the Member States (i.e. ambassadors to the EU) and their deputies. Owing to the large number of matters handled by COREPER, it is divided into two committees: COREPER I, which comprises the deputies of the ambassadors to the EU, and COREPER II, which comprises the ambassadors themselves and is therefore the more important of the two.

COREPER II normally concerns itself with the matters dealt with by the European Council as well as matters within the remit of the Councils for General Affairs and External Relations, Economic and Financial Affairs, and Justice and Home Affairs. COREPER I prepares general matters within the remit of the other Council configurations.

Within COREPER, officials discuss the political issues on the agenda for the next Council meeting, ahead of the meeting itself, and attempt to reach agreement on the matters wherever possible. Decisions are also taken within COREPER as to whether matters should be submitted to the Council of Ministers for decision or whether they can be placed on the agenda as so-called ‘A points’. An A point is submitted to the Council for adoption without debate.

Officials from COREPER I and II also represent the Council on conciliation committees in the codecision procedure with the European Parliament, while the Presidency is represented at political level.

Working groups under COREPER

Generally, a proposal for a legal act which is to be adopted by the Council is initially dealt with in one of the 300 or so permanent working groups established under COREPER. The working groups cover the EU’s areas of cooperation. COREPER may also appoint ad hoc working groups to deal with a specific matter if it is assessed that none of the permanent working groups are suited to dealing with the matter.

The working groups under COREPER comprise representatives of the governments of the Member States, i.e. officials from the central administration of the Member States and/or officials from the countries’ Permanent Representations in Brussels . Officials from the Commission also participate in the meetings.

When the Commission has presented a proposal for a legal act which is to be adopted by the Council, the proposal is sent to the Council’s General Secretariat, which sends it on to the Member States’ Permanent Representations to the EU. As a rule, COREPER then decides which working group under COREPER should prepare the proposal to be dealt with by the Council.

The task of the working groups is to try to arrive at a proposal on which it will be possible to reach agreement in the Council. The working groups undertake a technical review of the proposals, and proposals for amendments to the original proposals are negotiated and drafted in order to arrive at a proposal which will be acceptable to the Council. As a result of the discussions in the working groups, an overview of the negotiating situation is achieved, and the working groups draw up a report on the matter. When a working group has completed its work on the matter or the negotiations have reached an impasse, the matter proceeds to COREPER