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Relations with the Council

One of the directorates in the Secretariat-General has general responsibility for relations with the Council. It also coordinates the codecision procedure, through contacts with the Council and the European Parliament. This involves the dual function of coordination and information:

  • action by representatives of the directorates-general in Council bodies must be coordinated in order to ensure that the Commission position is coherent as well as institutionally and procedurally orthodox;
  • the Commission must be briefed on debates in the Council itself and on discussions during meetings of the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper I and II) and the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA).

The directorate is composed of three units: one for each Coreper and a third for the codecision procedure, which also provides the GRI (Inter-institutional Relations Group) secretariat, in close cooperation with the directorate in charge of relations with Parliament. It also coordinates the Commission's participation in the G8.

The units dealing with relations with the Council are organised in a way that reflects the organisation of the Council and the arrangements the Commission has adopted for representation at Coreper meetings.

While formally the Council is a single body, in practice its meetings are organised in different compositions. Under Article 207 of the Treaty, "a committee consisting of the Permanent Representatives of the Member States shall be responsible for preparing the work of the Council and for carrying out the tasks assigned to it by the Council". Coreper meets in two parts - Coreper I (Deputy Permanent Representatives) and Coreper II (Ambassadors), and they divide between themselves responsibility for the Council's nine compositions:

Preparation by Coreper II:

  • 1. General affairs and external relations (including European security and defence policy and development cooperation)
  • 2. Economic and financial affairs (including the budget)
  • 3. Justice and home affairs (including civil protection)

Preparation by Coreper I:

  • 4. Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs
  • 5. Competitiveness (internal market, industry, research, tourism)
  • 6. Transport, telecommunications and energy
  • 7. Agriculture* and fisheries
  • 8. Environment
  • 9. Education, youth and culture (including audiovisual affairs)

(* This concerns animal health and welfare, food safety, and veterinary and plant protection affairs. The Special Committee on Agriculture prepares the other agricultural business.)

The Commission is represented at Coreper II meetings by the Deputy Secretary-General and at Coreper I meetings by the Director responsible, within the Secretariat-General, for relations with the Council, both having liaised with the relevant directorates-general on the items to be considered.

The unit which coordinates the codecision procedure also provides the GRI secretariat.