Council Working Parties
The Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) is made up of Ambassadors from EU Member States, based in Brussels, who are responsible for preparing Ministerial-level Council meetings. All issues must pass through COREPER before they are included on the agenda for a Council meeting. COREPER meets in two configurations, COREPER I and COREPER II, which deal with different subject areas. The Committee is chaired by the rotating Presidency (i.e. Ireland from January to June 2013).
In COREPER I the Member States are represented by their Deputy Permanent Representatives based at their Permanent Representation in Brussels. Ambassador Tom Hanney represents Ireland and is chairing COREPER I for the first six months of 2013. COREPER I deals with:
Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs
Competitiveness (internal market, industry and research)
Transport, telecommunications and energy
Agriculture and fisheries
Education, youth, culture and sport.
In COREPER II the Member States are represented by their Permanent Representatives, i.e. by their Ambassadors at the Permanent Representations in Brussels. Ambassador Rory Montgomery represents Ireland and is chairing COREPER II for the first six months of 2013. COREPER II deals with:
General affairs and external relations
Economic and financial matters
Justice and home affairs
Preparation of European Councils and other summits
The Political and Security Committee (PSC) is responsible for the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Member States are represented at the PSC by Ambassadors based in Brussels. It meets twice a week, with extra meetings as required, and is permanently chaired by the European External Action Service.
The PSC monitors the international situation and recommends strategic approaches and policy options to the Council of Ministers. The PSC provides guidance to the Military Committee (EUMC), the Politico-Military Group (PMG) and the Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM).
GENERAL AFFAIRS (GAC)
The Security Committee examines and assesses security matters and makes recommendations to the Council when appropriate. Three expert sub-groups are established under the Security Committee: Information Assurance, Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS) and Security Accreditation.
High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration
The High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration establishes a comprehensive and integrated strategy for EU cooperation with third countries in the area of asylum and migration. The objective is to strengthen the external dimension of the EU’s asylum and migration policies based on dialogue, cooperation and partnership with countries of origin and transit in the areas of legal migration, illegal migration, asylum applicants and development. The group also prepares conclusions and recommendations on the causes and consequences of asylum and migration, for adoption by the Council.
Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG)
The Horizontal Working Party on Drugs is responsible for coordinating the EU’s international activity in the controlled drugs area, including liaison with international organisations.
Working Party on Structural Measures
The Working Party on Structural Measures focuses on issues concerning cohesion policy and deals mainly with the regulations governing all structural funds (the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund). The group also discusses reports on policy development and the implementation of the structural funds.
Working Party on Outermost Regions
The Working Party on Outermost Regions deals with exemptions for certain areas in Europe. The Council may, at the proposal of the Commission and following consultation with the European Parliament, approve special measures on exemptions from EU legislation for the French, Spanish and Portuguese outermost regions. This applies in particular to areas such as customs, taxation, agriculture and fisheries. The regions concerned are French Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Madeira, the Azores and the Canary Islands.
Working Party on Atomic Questions (WPAQ)
WPAQ forms part of EU cooperation within the areas of nuclear radiation and radiation protection, and handles all legal and technical initiatives within the nuclear field.
Working Party on Statistics
The Working Party on Statistics discusses the Commission’s proposals for new or revised legal acts in the area of statistics. These are adopted between the European Parliament and the Council through ordinary legislative procedure.
Working Party of Legal/Linguistic Experts
The Working Party of Legal/Linguistic Experts is responsible for formal drafting of legal instruments adopted by the Council. Legal/linguistic experts from the Council check the conformity of the different language versions and monitor the editorial quality of the legal instrument. Representatives from Member States are also involved in this group, normally in the form of the expert who negotiated the legal instrument in the relevant working party.
Working Party on the Court of Justice
The Working Party on the Court of Justice is responsible for issues concerning the EU court system. It deals with general issues relating to the court system and rules concerning proceedings in the Court of Justice and the General Court, in particular the Protocol on the Statute of the Court of Justice and the rules of procedure of both courts.
Working Party on Staff Regulations
The Working Party on Staff Regulations deals with the regulatory framework that relates to the terms of employment of EU institutions’ staff. Matters covered under the Staff Regulations include recruitment processes, career paths, working hours, and remuneration and pension provisions.
Ad Hoc Working Party on the follow-up to the Council Conclusions on Cyprus of 26 April 2004
The working party follows up on the Council Conclusions on Cyprus of 26 April 2004 related to the decision of the Greek Cypriot people to reject the plan for unification of the island which prevented the EU accession of a unified island in May 2004. The group focuses on improving the economic integration of Cyprus and furthering contact between the two communities and with the EU.
Ad Hoc Working Party on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania
The working party assesses the progress of Bulgaria and Romania in fulfilling benchmarks in the judicial area (including the areas of judicial reform, corruption and organised crime) set out in advance of the countries’ accession to the EU. These criteria were established by the Commission under the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification for Bulgaria and Romania in December 2006.
Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the EU
The Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the EU prepares the Council’s common positions in situations relating to EU enlargement, including membership applications, granting candidate status, assessment of progress and closing negotiations.
Ad Hoc Working Party on Drafting the Accession Treaty with Croatia
The working party is responsible for drawing up the Accession Treaty with Croatia based on the results of the accession negotiations. Croatia will join the European Union on July 1st 2013.
Working Party on E-Law
The Working Party on e-Law promotes the use of information and communication technology in the justice area. It deals with issues including electronic access to information about judicial practice and is involved in projects such as developing the common European e-Justice Portal, which will provide information about the legal systems and laws of Member States.
Ad Hoc Group on Nuclear Security
The group considers ways to improve the security principles for existing and planned nuclear power plants in the EU.
Working Party on Information
This group looks at information and communication issues, including sharing best practice amongst member states on communicating the EU. It also deals with transparency issues, including public access to EU documents.
Working Party on General Affairs
This group deals with inter-institutional questions.
Working Party on Codification of Legislation
This group is responsible for codification of EU laws, a technical exercise whereby several iterations of Union legislation are brought together in a single unified version.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS (FAC)
Trade Policy Committee
The Trade Policy Committee works on trade policy with states or international organizations. The Committee deals with three main areas:
Bilateral trade relations
New EU legislation within the trade policy area
The Trade Policy Committee meets once a month at the level of full members, the "titulaires", as well as once every six months for an informal meeting in the country of the rotating EU Presidency . The deputies of the committee meet once a week.
The Trade Policy Committee (Services and Investments)
The committee works on negotiations with the WTO and third countries for agreements on trade in services, investment and investment protection.
Military Committee (EUMC)
The European Union Military Committee (EUMC) is the highest military body set up within the Council. It directs all EU military activities and provides the Political and Security Committee (PSC) with advice and recommendations on military matters. The EUMC is composed of the Chiefs of Defence (CHOD) of Member States, who are regularly represented by their permanent Military Representatives (MilReps). The EUMC has a permanent Chair, selected by the Chiefs of Defence of the Member States and appointed by the Council.
Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM)
CIVCOM is responsible for addressing current civilian missions. The Committee prepares and produces planning documents for new missions and makes recommendations to the Political and Security Committee (PSC) regarding the Heads of Mission’s six-monthly report on the performance of the mission. CIVCOM also deals with the development of strategies for civilian crisis management and civilian capabilities.
Working Party of Foreign Relations Counsellors (Relex)
The Relex group deals with legal, financial and institutional issues in the external field with the main focus on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Priorities include:
The financing of external activities
EU crisis management operations
EU Special Representatives
Other crosscutting issues
Working Party of Foreign Relations Counsellors – Sanctions
The primary task of the Sanctions group is to share best practice and revise and implement common guidelines to ensure effective and uniform implementation of EU sanctions regimes.
Working Party on Public International Law
The Working Party on Public International Law deals with general international law topics such as international humanitarian law (IHL), piracy, terrorism, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the EU's dialogue with the USA and other key international actors in the legal field.
Working Party on Public International Law - International Criminal Court
The working group is responsible for issues concerning the International Criminal Court (ICC). It deals with cooperation and exchange of information with the ICC, as well as promotion of participation in the ICC. It also seeks to coordinate the Member States’ approach to various issues that continually arise in relation to the ICC. The working party meets informally with NGOs at each meeting; it is also customary for guests from the ICC or other tribunals to attend.
Working Party on the Law of the Sea
The working party deals with the law of the sea, based in particular on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The group covers all aspects of this issue, including navigation rights, resource management and protection of the environment.
United Nations Working Party (CONUN)
CONUN develops common EU policy on UN issues of common interest to EU Member States. CONUN provides recommendations and guidance on strategic EU policy objectives at the UN, as well as thematic issues, in order to contribute to the process of setting long-term policy goals. CONUN addresses the EU’s UN policy within four main areas:
Promoting a stronger UN
International peace and security
Reform of the UN system
UN agencies, programmes, funds and conferences
Working Party on the OSCE and the Council of Europe
The working party deals with the EU’s relations with the Organization for Security and Development in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe and coordinates a common European position on the issues debated in these institutions. The 27 EU Member States represent a substantial proportion of the 56 OSCE members and the 47 members of the Council of Europe.
Working Party on Human Rights (COHOM)
COHOM monitors developments in the area of human rights throughout the world and prepares guidelines and assessments of the EU’s approach to certain human rights issues. The mandate of this working party includes responsibility for shaping the EU’s human rights policy in its external relations.
Working Party on Transatlantic Relations (COTRA)
COTRA is responsible for issues concerning EU relations with the USA and Canada. Its work covers a broad range of issues from security policy to economics and trade – some of the economic issues are also handled by the Trade Policy Committee. The working party also discusses ongoing issues on the transatlantic agenda and prepares annual summits with the USA and Canada.
Working Party on Eastern Europe and Central Asia (COEST)
The Working Party on Eastern Europe and Central Asia deals with all aspects of EU relations and cooperation with countries in Eastern Europe (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). Its work includes frameworks for multilateral cooperation, such as the Eastern Partnership, (which includes the EU Member States and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
Working Party on EFTA
The Working Party on EFTA deals with EU relations with the EFTA countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). It is responsible for a wide range of areas including tax issues, participation in Schengen and certain matters relating to fisheries and trade in food. The working group also prepares for Council discussion of issues relating to the European Economic Area (EEA) and organises EEA council meetings.
Working Party on the Western Balkans Region (COWEB)
COWEB is responsible for issues concerning the EU’s relations with the Western Balkans region: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo. The group deals with both general political and economic development in these countries as well as the stabilisation and association processes and the financial Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).
Ad hoc Working Party on the Middle East Peace Process (COMEP)
The working party deals with EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) as it relates to the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Middle East/Gulf Working Party (COMEM)
COMEM deals with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy and issues of Community competence relating to Iran, Iraq, Yemen and the Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Oman, the Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait).
Mashreq/Maghreb Working Party (COMAG)
COMAG deals with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Community competence with regard to Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Western Sahara conflict, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Tunisia. It also deals with EU cooperation with countries in North Africa and the Middle East, also known as the Union for the Mediterranean.
Africa Working Party (COAFR)
The main responsibility of the Africa Working Party is to follow and analyse developments in Sub-Saharan African countries, including questions regarding prevention and management of conflicts, and to secure a coordinated and coherent EU policy in relation to these countries and regions. The group is also in charge of relations with the African Union and other sub-regional organisations and prepares Africa-related discussions for the Political and Security Committee, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) and the Council (external affairs).
ACP Working Party
The ACP Working Party deals with European cooperation with African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) as established by the Cotonou Agreement. The Cotonou Agreement is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between the EU and developing countries and provides a framework for cooperation within the political sphere and the pillars of development and trade.
Asia-Oceania Working Party (COASI)
COASI deals with EU relations with Asia and Oceania. The group discusses both current foreign and security policy issues in the region and how the EU’s strategies and policies can and should be developed in the longer term. One important aspect is ensuring consistency in EU actions and proposing joint EU positions regarding individual countries and regions in Asia.
Working Party on Latin America (COLAT)
COLAT deals with EU relations with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its work covers a broad range of issues including policy, economics and trade, some of which are also handled by the Trade Policy Committee. The working party discusses both current issues and the EU’s more long-term strategies for cooperation with countries in the region and prepares summits between the EU and countries or groups of countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Working Party on Terrorism (International Aspects)
The Working Party on Terrorism is the main forum for information exchange and EU coordination on international aspects of the fight against terrorism. Its main tasks are preparing meetings with third countries to engage in dialogue on terrorism, and carrying out threat analyses in relation to third countries in order to enhance EU cooperation with these countries on combating international terrorism.
Working Party on Non-Proliferation
Through the Working Party on Non-Proliferation EU Member States cooperate to promote non-proliferation, to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands and to ensure that international agreements on non-proliferation are implemented. The group also coordinates actions and dialogues on non-proliferation issues with third countries.
Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports
The Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports works on issues concerning export controls for conventional arms. Member States communicate and share information on their export policies to third countries, and on national denials of applications for export licenses to third countries. This group also engages in outreach activities, the establishment of political dialogue with third countries and the ongoing UN process for the adoption of an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Working Party on Global Disarmament and Arms Control
The Working Party on Global Disarmament and Arms Control coordinates the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) within the field of global disarmament, including conventional weapons, land mines, cluster munitions, biological and chemical weapons as well as UN related matters. The working party also deals with EU support for various projects related to disarmament and arms control.
Working Party on Dual-Use Goods
The Working Party on Dual-Use Goods works on revising the regulation of dual-use goods, updating the control list, technical issues related to applying the list and the coordination of EU proposals within multilateral export control regimes. Dual-use items are goods that can be used for both civilian and military purposes, such as nuclear centrifuges, harmful viruses, or cryptography programmes. For this reason, dual-use goods are subject to controls. The legal basis for controls (and the control list) on dual-use goods is the EU Dual-Use Regulation.
Politico-Military Group (PMG)
The Politico-Military group (PMG) is responsible for handling the politico-military aspects of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and preparing matters that are referred to the Political and Security Committee (PSC). The PMG, among other things, monitors the progress of military and combined civilian/military operations.
Military Committee Working Group (EUMCWG)
The European Union Military Committee Working Group (EUMCWG) prepares many of the issues dealt with in the Military Committee (EUMC) and assists with work on military aspects of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
Working Party on Trade Questions (WPTQ)
The Working Party on Trade Questions (WPTQ) is a forum for discussion between Member States and the European Commission on EU legislation concerning trade policy and trade defence, primarily measures against dumping and subsidies. The WPTQ also discusses horizontal trade policy issues, including orientations from the Commission concerning negotiations and decisions in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Working Party on the Generalised System of Preferences
The working group negotiates the Commission's proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation to apply the scheme of generalised tariff preferences.
Working Party on Development Cooperation
The Working Party on Development Cooperation deals with general aspects of development cooperation such as international commitments, aid effectiveness and policy coherence. It covers a variety of topics including gender equality, reproductive health and crosscutting issues such as trade, development and environment.
Working Party on Preparation for International Development Conferences
The working party meets when necessary, depending on the international meeting agenda.
Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid
The Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid allows for the exchange of views on humanitarian strategies and policies of the EU, as well as the response to humanitarian crises. The working party aims to:
Promote the European consensus on humanitarian aid
Highlight causes and consequences of humanitarian crises
Improve EU coordination of humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction
Strengthen coordination between humanitarian assistance, relief, reconstruction and development assistance.
Working Party on Commodities (PROBA)
PROBA is responsible for discussions on commodity policies and other issues including sustainability, commodity dependence, supply security, and trade and development. The working party also coordinates and prepares the EU position relating to the work, meetings and conferences of International Commodity Bodies (ICBs), dealing inter alia with coffee, cocoa, tropical timber, olive oil, copper, nickel, lead and zinc.
Working Party on Consular Affairs
The Working Party on Consular Affairs coordinates consular cooperation among EU Member States, in particular in providing assistance to EU citizens during crises in third countries. The group is composed of representatives from consular departments of EU Member States and normally convenes 2-3 times per presidency in Brussels.
The Nicolaidis Group prepares the meetings of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and is equivalent to the Antici and Mertens Groups, which undertake preparations for the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER). The Nicolaidis Group meets twice a week, always on the day before a PSC meeting and Member States are represented by close associates of the PSC Ambassadors.
Working Party on the Application of Specific Measures to Combat Terrorism
The working party processes applications for listing and delisting individuals, groups and entities involved in terrorism under the common position concerning sanctions against such actors. The working party also prepares a regular review of the list.
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS (ECOFIN)
Economic and Financial Committee
The Economic and Financial Committee promotes policy coordination, providing opinions at the request of the Council or the Commission. It provides assessments of the economic and financial situation, coordination of economic and fiscal policies, financial market matters, exchange rate policies and relations with third countries and international institutions. This Committee also provides the framework for preparing and pursuing the dialogue between the Council and the European Central Bank. It is composed of representatives from Member States and the Commission, central banks and the ECB.
Economic Policy Committee
The Economic Policy Committee is responsible for economic policy with a particular focus on structural reforms, including EU coordination of economic policy within the Europe 2020 reform strategy and the European Semester. The committee deals with a range of areas including labour, product and service market reforms, the quality and sustainability of public finances, growth and employment.
Financial Services Committee (FSC)
The Financial Services Committee provides for cross-sectoral strategic reflection separate from the legislative process to:
help define the medium and long-term strategy for financial services issues;
consider sensitive short-term issues;
assess progress and implementation;
provide political advice and oversight on both internal and external issues.
The FSC works closely with the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), especially in preparing meetings in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).
Working Party on Own Resources
The Working Party on Own Resources deals with matters that concern the Council’s Own Resources Decision (which regulates the EU budget financing system) and the implementing regulation for the this mechanism.
Working Party of Financial Counsellors
The Working Party of Financial Counsellors’ responsibilities include issues related to the Economic and Monetary Union, the Euro, financial instruments, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and financial aid to countries outside the EU.
Working Party on Financial Services
The Working Party on Financial Services is responsible for negotiating financial market issues such as banking, securities, infrastructure, and insurance questions.
Working Party on Tax Questions
The Working Party on Tax Questions meets in two subgroups – indirect and direct taxation. The subgroup on indirect taxation deals with harmonised indirect taxes – value added tax (VAT) and excise duties on alcohol, tobacco and energy. The direct taxation subgroup deals with the taxation of savings, interest and royalties and administrative cooperation, among other issues.
Code of Conduct Group (Business taxation)
The working group works to combat harmful tax competition in corporate taxation. The Code of Conduct is not a legally binding instrument but it does have some political force. By adopting the Code of Conduct, Member States undertake to:
roll back existing tax measures that constitute harmful tax competition
refrain from introducing any such measures in the future.
High Level Working Party on Tax Questions (HLWP)
The High Level Working Party on Tax Questions deals with selected tax issues, including dossiers negotiated in other taxation working parties. The aim of the group is to have a discussion on a higher level than the level of delegates attending other taxation working parties. The HLWP has recently dealt with questions in relation to taxation on savings, the Common Corporate Consolidated Tax Base (CCCTB) and taxation on the financial sector.
The Budget Committee is responsible for Community budget matters. Budget work is cyclical in nature; every year the Committee deals with the same issues concerning the process of completing and improving the budget for the coming year. The Committee also handles matters concerning financial regulation and the modernisation of the European Commission’s internal accounting, and deals with current issues on the implementation of the current budget, e.g. transfers and budget amendments.
Working Group on Combating Fraud
The Working Group on Combating Fraud is responsible for matters concerning the fight against fraud and other illegal activities detrimental to the financial interests of the Union. First and foremost, the group considers issues relating to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the Supervisory Committee of the Office. The group meets when needed to consider the following types of cases: new legislation on combating fraud, appointment of the director general of OLAF and the members of the Supervisory Committee and various annual reports on the protection of the financial interests of the Union.
Export Credits Group
The Export Credits Group coordinates Member States’ position on export credit issues that are negotiated in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This cooperation aims to ensure that the countries do not undercut each other and create unfair competition, by laying down common rules and standards for guarantees and loans, and defining the frameworks for minimum premiums, repayment profiles, maximum credit terms and minimum interest rates.
Ad Hoc Working Party on Economic Governance
Established by COREPER II on 20 December 2011 to consider two legislative proposals by the Commission in the field of economic governance.
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS (JHA)
Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI)
COSI was created to strengthen operational cooperation in relation to the internal security of the EU. The key objective of the Committee, as set out in the Lisbon Treaty, is to promote the coordination of operational actions between the EU Member States, including in the area of law enforcement.
Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA)
SCIFA consists of senior level officials with the task of determining strategic guidelines for EU cooperation on immigration, frontiers and asylum.
Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion
The Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion deals with issues related to entry and exit of the EU. This includes the framework for legal entry and stay in the EU, questions on returning persons with illegal stay and the EU Commission’s negotiations with third countries on readmission agreements. The group also works on integration issues, promoting and supporting national integration policies.
Visa Working Party
The Visa Working Party deals with broad issues connected to the establishment of a common visa policy in relation to third country citizens and the procedures and conditions for issuing visas.
Asylum Working Party
The Asylum Working Party deals with asylum issues and is currently recasting some of the basic texts on asylum. This includes the Dublin Regulation and the Eurodac Regulation on the criteria for the country in which an applicant must have his case examined, and a number of directives concerning the conditions for asylum seekers in the EU.
Working Party on Frontiers
The Working Party on Frontiers deals with legislation regulating the crossing of external EU borders, external borders of the Schengen area and internal borders between Member States. Questions related to the EU agency for the management of external borders, Frontex, are also addressed in this group.
Working Party on Civil Law Matters (JUSTCIV)
JUSTCIV deals with legislative initiatives in the area of civil law cooperation and plays a coordinating role when a common EU position has to be established prior to meetings with other international bodies.
Working Party on Terrorism (TWP)
The Working Party on Terrorism considers initiatives to prevent and fight terrorism. At TWP meetings, relevant national experiences and initiatives as well as information about current terrorism-related incidents are exchanged between Member States.
Customs Cooperation Working Party (CCWP)
The Customs Cooperation Working Party is responsible for the coordination of customs cooperation between Member States and continuously improving cooperation between customs authorities and between customs and police. The group adopts action plans, projects and proposals for Joint Customs Operations (JCO).
Working Party on Cooperation in Criminal Matters (COPEN)
COPEN deals with initiatives, typically legislative, regarding cooperation in criminal matters between Member States, including mutual assistance in investigations, the surrender and transfer of sentenced persons and the enforcement of judicial decisions.
Working Party on Substantive Criminal Law (DROIPEN)
DROIPEN considers legislative initiatives regarding substantive criminal law, in particular initiatives to harmonise national provisions of substantive criminal law. In addition, the working party considers new legislation relating to criminal procedure.
Working Party on Civil Protection (PROCIV)
PROCIV deals with the Union's efforts to prevent and manage natural and manmade disasters, such as floods, forest fires and earthquakes. The group addresses issues concerning mutual disaster assistance between EU Member States as well as the EU coordination of joint disaster assistance to third countries. PROCIV also engages in cross-sector cooperation on the protection of European critical infrastructure and security cooperation in the fight against terrorism in the area of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials (CBRN).
Working Party on Fundamental Rights, Citizens Rights and Free Movement of Persons (FREMP)
FREMP secures compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and considers the question of the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. The group is also involved with preparatory work in the legislative procedures of the Council.
Working Party on Information Exchange and Data Protection (DAPIX)
DAPIX addresses issues relating to information exchange and data protection. On the information exchange side, it draws up EU strategies for ensuring the exchange of information between law enforcement authorities of Member States. In the area of data protection, the working party helps to ensure that data are exchanged in compliance with current principles and rules on personal data protection.
JAI-RELEX Working Party
The JAI-RELEX Working Party ensures that the EU’s external relations in the area of justice and home affairs (JHA) are appropriately coordinated. JAI-RELEX also plays a coordinating role in assisting other relevant Council working parties in making more strategic assessments within the external dimension of the area of justice and home affairs.
Coordinating Committee in the area of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (CATS)
CATS prepare the work of the Council in the areas of criminal law and law enforcement cooperation. A variety of cases from the relevant Council working parties are discussed from a more strategic and coordinating perspective in the Committee before they go to COREPER and the Council.
Law Enforcement Working Party (LEWP)
LEWP considers initiatives regarding criminal investigation and law enforcement. A number of expert groups associated with the working party discuss topics such as security at major sports events and issues related to radio communication and stolen vehicles.
Working Party for Schengen Matters
The Working Party for Schengen Matters meets in four different formations, each dealing with particular areas within the Schengen system. These are: evaluation mechanisms (SCHEVAL Group), the Schengen Information System (SIS SIRENE Group), technical questions (IS-TECH Group), and the Schengen rules (Schengen Acquis Group).
Working Party on General Matters including Evaluation (GENVAL)
GENVAL draws up some of the Community’s strategies and policies aimed at coordinating measures to prevent and counter organised crime. The working party also plans evaluations of the Member States’ compliance with their international obligations in this area.
Ad Hoc Working Party on JHA Financial Instruments
This working party was set up in January 2012 to examine the financial instruments relating to the Multiannual Financial Framework in the areas of Justice and Home Affairs.
AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (AGRI)
Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA)
The Special Committee on Agriculture prepares the meetings of ministers of agriculture and fisheries with regard to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Issues relating to fisheries, foodstuffs, and veterinary policy and phytosanitary issues are usually discussed in CAP working parties before being prepared in COREPER I.
High Level Group on Agriculture
Senior officials from Member States discuss matters concerning agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy in the High Level Group on Agriculture.
Working Party on Agricultural Structures and Rural Development
The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture on issues in the area of rural development within the framework of the second pillar of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.
Issues falling under the SCA linked to support for rural development from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) are prepared by this group. It is also responsible for issues relating to the Aegean islands and certain other issues linked to sustainable and rural development under the Agriculture and Fisheries Council.
Working Party on Horizontal Agricultural Questions
This is a joint working group reporting to the SCA on the simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from the perspective of producers and agencies. It is also used as a forum in which general issues related to the CAP are discussed.
Working Party on the Promotion of Agricultural Products
This working party reports to the SCA on measures to promote the consumption of a number of agricultural products within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy. This group is responsible for amendments to the Council regulation governing this support.
Working Party on Genetic Resources in Agriculture
The Working Party on Genetic Resources in Agriculture acts as a management committee for Council Regulation EC 870/2004 establishing a Community programme on the conservation, collection and utilisation of genetic resources in agriculture.
The purpose of the Regulation is to:
Establish a programme to fund transnational projects for the utilization of the genetic resources of agriculture
Contribute to the implementation of the Biodiversity Action Plan for Agriculture
Promote the exchange of information and close cooperation between Member States
Facilitate coordination with regard to international commitments on genetic resources in agriculture
The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.
Working Party on Foodstuff Quality
This is a joint working group reporting to the SCA on organic agriculture, geographical indications and designations of origin, and certificates of a specific character.
Working Party on Animal Products
This is a joint working group reporting to the SCA on beef and veal, sheep meat and goat meat, pig meat, eggs and poultry, milk and milk products and beekeeping and honey.
Working Party on Arable Crops
The Working Party on Arable Crops reports to the SCA on issues related to cereals, oilseeds, rice, protein crops, fodder and seeds.
Working Party on Sugar and Isoglucose
The working party reports to the SCA on issues concerning sugar, isoglucose and insulin syrup.
Working Party on Fruit and Vegetables
The working party reports to the SCA on issues concerning fresh fruit and vegetables and processed products made of fruit, vegetables and bananas.
Working Party on Olive Oil
The Working Party on Olive Oil reports to the SCA on issues related to olive oil and table olives.
Working Party on Wines and Alcohol
This is a joint common working party reports to the SCA on issues concerning wines, wine products, aromatised wines, vinegar, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), spirit drinks and agriculture-based ethanol.
Working Party on Special Plant Products
The Working Party on Special Plant Products reports to the SCA on issues concerning floriculture, hops, tobacco, cotton, linen, hemp and silkworms.
Working Party on Products not listed in Annex I
All the agricultural and food products included in the Common Agricultural Policy are listed in Annex I of the Treaty. The working party deals with questions related to processed goods, which are not included in Annex I. Support for these products is regulated in a special Council regulation.
Working Party on Financial Agricultural Questions
The Working Party on Financial Agricultural Questions (AGRIFIN) considers the budgetary effects of the Commission’s proposals under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER).
Working Party on Forestry
The Working Party on Forestry deals with forest-related issues regarding both international forest processes and the EU's internal debates. Discussions on international forest processes include the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), Forest Europe, the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO) and a process of negotiation on a legally binding agreement on forests in Europe (LBA).
Working Party on Agricultural Questions
The Working Party on Agricultural Questions consists of subgroups and works on the labeling of processed agricultural products, animal feed, seeds and propagating material, pests, pesticide residues, pesticides, plant protection products and plant breeder rights.
The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER).
Working Party of Chief Plant Health Officers
The working party discusses general, overall issues in the area of plant protection and reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER).
Working Party on Plant Health
The Working Party on Plant Health is responsible for issues involving protection, inspection, propagating and planting materials in the area of plant protection.
The working party meets regularly in different configurations of Member States to coordinate the EU's position and to assist and support the Commission in negotiations with third countries in relation to the plant and phytosanitary sectors. The group meets in subgroups covering the following issues:
Protection and Inspection
Propagating and Planting Materials
The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER).
Working Party of Chief Veterinary Officers
The Working Party of Chief Veterinary Officers is a strategic preparatory forum for veterinary issues in the fields of animal and public health, animal welfare and foodstuffs of animal origin.
Under its mandate, the group draws up guidelines for expert working groups, analyses proposals from working parties before they are brought up in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) and works on issues in the field of veterinary medicine in connection with discussions between the EU and third countries.
Working Party of Veterinary Experts
The Working Party of Veterinary Experts works on public health, animal husbandry, animal health and welfare and fishery products. In addition, the group coordinates questions of principle and prepares texts for veterinary agreements between the EU and third countries. The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER).
Coordination Working Party
The Coordination Working Party is responsible for coordinating multilateral issues and meets when Member States are coordinating their positions for meetings of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER).
Codex Alimentarius Working Party
Codex Alimentarius is the regulatory framework for food products, which was drawn up in the UN as part of the FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. Codex Alimentarius is an international, worldwide organisation tasked with producing international standards in the field of food products in order to protect consumer health.
30 committees prepare matters for the Codex Alimentarius Commission. All individual EU Member States and the EU (represented by the European Commission) are members of Codex Alimentarius. Before each Codex meeting, this working party coordinates and prepares work on joint EU positions.
Working Party on External Fisheries Policy
The working party deals with EU external relations in the area of fisheries. Its work includes preparations ahead of bilateral negotiations with other states, and ahead of multilateral negotiations eg in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The EU is also represented in regional fisheries organisations active in different parts of the world. The group prepares EU positions ahead of meetings with these organisations.
Working Party on Internal Fisheries Policy
The working party deals with issues involving the EU’s internal fisheries policy. These issues involve resource policy including issues concerning total allowable catches (TAC) and technical conservation measures. Other issues include structural policy, market and trade policy and fisheries controls.
There is also a link between external and internal fisheries policy. For example, negotiations within the context of regional fisheries organisations and with important bilateral negotiation partners often have consequences for internal policy areas such as resources, controls, structure and market.
Working Party of Directors-General of Fisheries Departments
Each country holding the EU Presidency convenes an informal meeting of the EU Directors-General for Fisheries.
Ad hoc Working Party on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
The Working Party on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) deals with the legislation and regulation of cultivation and marketing of genetically modified organisms.
Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth
The Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth deals with issues such as the single market, industry policy, better regulation and competitiveness in the EU. The group is responsible for questions relating to the single market, business and industrial issues, better regulation and overall growth strategy for the EU. The group is divided into three subgroups: Single Market, industry and better regulation. The composition of these subgroups varies according to the agenda.
Working Party on Competition
This group examines the revision of EU legislation in the field of competition.
Working Party on Public Procurement
The working party is responsible for legislation in the area of public procurement. It discusses proposals on ways to improve the procurement rules and make public procurement transparent for both the institutions tendering contracts and the companies bidding for contracts.
Working Party on Intellectual Property
The Working Party on Intellectual Property’s primary function is preparing legislation in the areas of patents, copyright, design, trademarks and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Coordination meetings are held on patent and copyright issues before meetings in the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
Working Party on Company Law
The Working Party on Company Law is responsible for corporate law issues. The group negotiates various proposals in the field of corporate law, inter alia proposals concerning European Corporate Forms and matters concerning corporate governance, accounting and auditing.
Working Party on Establishment and Services
The working party is responsible for establishment and services, including the Services Directive and the regulation regarding mutual recognition of professional qualifications. The group discusses how regulation in the area can become more homogenous, transparent and flexible. Aspects of online betting and online gaming are also discussed.
Working Party on Technical Harmonisation
The Working Party on Technical Harmonisation decides on common rules for the design and naming of products or product components, services, methods or systems. The aim of such legislation is to find common solutions to technical matters and thereby improve the free movement of goods in the internal market.
Working Group on Technical Harmonization – Motor Vehicles
The working group deals with drafts of proposals for legislation on type approval of cars and their trailers, mopeds, motorcycles, agricultural and forestry vehicles.
Working Party on Customs Union (Customs Union Group (CUG)
The working party deals with customs legislation and customs policy issues. The group coordinates EU and common positions in relation to international organisations such as the World Customs Organization (WCO), and in relation to third countries.
Working Party on Research
The Working Party on Research processes matters in the research area before they come up for decision at Council meetings. The work focuses on research framework programmes and more general framework conditions for European research.
Joint Working Party on Research/Atomic Questions
The working party’s main responsibility is to negotiate research related to issues under the EURATOM Treaty, including research in nuclear safety, radiation protection and radioactive waste.
Working Party on Space
The Working Party on Space deals with the development of a European space policy, in particular the European programme for the establishment of a European capacity for earth observation – Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES).
European Research Area Committee (ERAC)
This is a policy advisory body, set up to advise the Council and the Commission in the field of research and technological development.
Working Party on Consumer Protection and Information
The working party deals with issues in the area of consumer policy. It takes decisions on issues such as the EU consumer policy programme and various other legal acts in the area of consumer protection. The group prepares Council conclusions and recommendations in this policy area.
Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (TTE)
Working Party on Land Transport
The Working Party on Land Transport deals with items concerning road and rail transport.
Working Party on Shipping
The Working Party on Shipping prepares and negotiates acts and directives related to shipping. The working party deals with topics including regulation to ensure high quality shipping while maintaining the competitiveness of European companies.
Working Party on Aviation
The working party deals with items concerning aviation within the EU and the EU’s external aviation policies.
Working Party on Transport - Intermodal Questions and Networks
The working party deals with items relating to several different modes of transport.
Working Party on Telecommunications and Information Society
The working party deals with policy issues concerning information and communication technologies. Much of the work is related to the Digital Agenda for Europe, which aims to help create a coherent digital economy in Europe by 2020.
Working Party on Energy
The working party prepares matters related to energy for the EU Council of Ministers. It handles matters from the time they are introduced by the Commission and negotiates, as far as possible, agreement on the technical aspects involved.
Working Party on Postal Services
This Group is responsible for preparation of issues of EU concern relating to postal services, for discussion and the Telecommunications Council(TTE).
EMPLOYMENT, SOCIAL POLICY, HEALTH AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS (EPSCO)
The Committee prepares Council discussions of the employment package: the Employment Guidelines, Joint Employment Report and recommendations on the implementation of national employment policies. It formulates opinions and contributions at the request of the Council, the Commission or at its own initiative.
Social Protection Committee (SPC)
The Social Protection Committee serves as a vehicle for cooperative exchange of knowledge between Member States and the European Commission in the social field. Cooperation on issues such as the fight against poverty and social exclusion, pensions, health care and long-term care exists within the framework of the Open Method of Coordination. Under this framework Member States agree on broad political objectives which are implemented in national strategies.
SPC is composed of delegates from each Member State and the Commission. The Committee elects a Chairperson, who is aided by a “bureau” consisting of, inter alia, the Commission and Vice Presidents from the current and the succeeding Presidency (currently Ireland and Lithuania).
Working Party on Social Questions
The Working Party on Social Questions deals with labour legislation and work environment issues, gender equality and social matters.
Working Party on Public Health
The working party discusses issues concerning public health, health and medical care.
Working Party on Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices
The working party works on draft legislation regarding pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Working Party on Foodstuffs
The working party deals with several different issues within the area of food products.
Working Party on the Environment
The working party’s main responsibility is negotiating issues related to the environment in the EU. The group deals with a broad range of issues including, air pollution, chemicals, waste, resource efficiency, natural resources, biodiversity, water and the marine environment.
Working Party on International Environment Issues
The working party’s main responsibility is to negotiate and coordinate environmental issues within the framework of international negotiations related to the environment. These include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol, chemicals and biodiversity. The group meets in subgroups covering issues such as climate, biodiversity, chemicals, desertification and global environmental issues.
Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (EYCS)
The Education Committee prepares the items for decision by EU education ministers. Its work encompasses all levels of education and training, from preschool to higher education and adult education and training.
Working Party on Youth
The Working Party on Youth prepares the items for decision by EU ministers for youth. The work includes horizontal youth issues such as active citizenship and recognition of the value of informal and non-formal learning. The working party also deals with youth issues in relation to a number of other sectors, first and foremost education, employment, health and well-being and sport. This work is coordinated with other relevant working parties.
Committee on Cultural Affairs
The Committee on Cultural Affairs evaluates and discusses all proposals relating to EU cultural cooperation and EU initiatives in the area of culture. It prepares the work of the Council and bases its work on the overall European Cultural Agenda and the Work Plan established by the EU ministers for culture for 2011–2014.
Audiovisual Working Party
The Audiovisual Working Party is responsible for television, radio and film issues. It deals both with legislation, such as the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, and support and joint programmes in the area of film and television (including the MEDIA Programme 2007–2013). The working party also deals with other current issues, such as issues concerning the Digital Agenda, the creative and cultural content of the Internet and media literacy.
Working Party on Sport
The Working Party on Sport deals with EU sports issues and prepares the work of the Council in the field of sport. The working party also deals with other current issues and questions related to the fight against doping in sport, including in relation to WADA (World Anti Doping Agency).