THIS WEBSITE IS AN ONLINE ARCHIVE OF THE DANISH EU PRESIDENCY 2012 AND WILL NO LONGER BE UPDATED

Council working parties

Before the ministers assemble in one of the Council configurations, the meetings are prepared in more than 150 working parties and committees. These committees are comprised of officials from the 27 Member States and are highly specialised, dealing with a number of issues varying from the working party on technical harmonisation of motor vehicles to the working party on fruit and vegetables. Below you can find a description of each Council working party.

If you wish to find out when the working parties meet, check out the calendar of the Council Secretariat.

Agendas for meetings of the working parties are published on the website of the Council Secretariat 

If you have any questions regarding working parties, please contact the Presidency.

COREPER and PSC

COREPER I

The Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) is responsible for preparing Council meetings at ministerial level. All issues must pass through Coreper before they can be included on the agenda for a Council meeting. Coreper meets in two configurations, Coreper II and Coreper I, dealing with different subject areas.

Coreper I consists of the Deputy Permanent Representatives at the permanent representations in Brussels. The matters dealt with concern the following areas:

  • Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs 
  • Competitiveness (internal market, industry and research) 
  • Transport, telecommunications and energy 
  • Agriculture and fisheries 
  • Environment 
  • Education, youth and culture

COREPER II

The Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) is responsible for preparing Council meetings at ministerial level. All issues must pass through Coreper before they can be included on the agenda for a Council meeting. Coreper meets in two configurations, Coreper II and Coreper I, dealing with different subject areas.

In Coreper II the Member States are represented by their permanent representatives, i.e. by their ambassadors at the permanent representations in Brussels. Coreper II deals with matters in the following areas:

  • General affairs and external relations 
  • Economic and financial matters 
  • Justice and home affairs 
  • Overall responsibility for preparation of summits

Political and Security Committee (PSC)

PSC is responsible for the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

The Committee monitors the international situation and issues proposals for policy objectives and recommendations for strategy 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). It exercises political control and provides strategic direction to the EU’s military and civilian crisis management operations.

Member States are represented in the PSC at ambassador level and meet twice a week, with extra meetings as required.

 

General Affairs (GAC)

Security Committee

The Security Committee examines and assesses any security matter and makes recommendations to the Council when appropriate. The Security Committee has established 3 expert sub-groups within the areas of Information Assurance, GNSS (Global Satellite Navigation System) and Security Accreditation.

High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration

The task of the group is to establish a comprehensive and integrated strategy for the EU’s 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, migration and development. The group also prepares conclusions and recommendations on asylum and migration to be adopted by the Council.

Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG)

Since 1999, this working party has been responsible for coordinating the EU’s international activity in the controlled drugs area, including liaison with international organisations.

Working Party on Structural Measures

This working party deals with issues concerning cohesion policy. The working party works mainly with the regulations governing all the structural funds (the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund). The group also discusses reports on implementation of the structural funds and policy development. During the Danish Presidency the main issue for discussion will be reform of the European cohesion policy.

Working Party on Outermost Regions

The Council may, at the proposal of the Commission and following consultation with the European Parliament, approve special measures on exemptions from Community 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. WPAQ handles all legal and technical initiatives within the nuclear field.

Working Party on Statistics

This working party aims at discussing the Commission’s proposals for new or revised legal acts in the area of statistics. These are adopted by the ordinary legislative procedure between the European Parliament and the Council. The number of meetings varies depending on how many legal acts are to be considered.

Working Party of Legal/Linguistic Experts

This working party is responsible for formal drafting of legal instruments adopted by the Council. The legal/linguistic experts check the conformity of the different language versions and monitor the editorial quality of the legal instrument. The working party is composed of the Council’s legal/linguistic experts (one for each official EU language) and representatives of the Member States (normally the expert who negotiated the legal instrument in the relevant working party).

Working Party on the Court of Justice

This group is responsible for issues concerning the court system of the European Union. It deals with 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 the Court of Justice and the General Court. General issues relating to the court system are also dealt with in the group.

Working Party on Staff Regulations

The working party deals with matters concerning the Staff Regulations that regulate the terms of employment of staff in the EU institutions.

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 and focuses on improving the economic integration of the island and on 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 towards fulfilling the benchmarks in the judicial area, which were adopted in relation to the establishment of the “Cooperation and Verification Mechanism” in December 2006 in advance of the formal accession to the EU of Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January 2007.

Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the EU

The working party prepares the Council’s Common Positions in questions relating to the enlargement of the EU, including membership applications, granting of candidate status, assessment of progress in negotiations and closing of 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, which have been closed.

Working Party on E-Law

This working party has been set up to promote the use of information and communication technology in the justice area. It is involved in projects such as developing the common European e-Justice Portal, which will provide information about the legal systems and laws of the Member States. Furthermore, the working party deals with issues such as electronic access to information about judicial practice.

 

Foreign Affairs (FAC)

Trade Policy Committee

The purpose of the Committee is to assist the Commission in negotiating and concluding agreements with states or international organizations. The Committee deals with a number of on-going trade policy matters within three main areas:

  1. WTO issues
  2. Bilateral trade relations
  3. New EU legislation within the trade policy area as part of the processing in the Council.

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. Furthermore, the deputies of the committee meet once a week.

The Trade Policy Committee (Services and Investments)

This committee assists and advises the Commission when it is negotiating for the EU in the WTO and with third countries for agreements on trade in services, investment and investment protection. The Committee follows the Commission's activities in negotiations on the services and investment parts of the free trade agreements as well as the conclusion of separate investment protection agreements between the EU and third countries.

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 the 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 continually addresses 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 reporting on the performance of the mission. Furthermore, the CIVCOM handles the development of concepts for civilian crisis management and civilian capabilities, etc.

Working Party of Foreign Relations Counsellors (Relex)

The group deals with legal, financial and institutional issues in the external field with predominant focus on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Specific matters are:

  1. The financing of external activities
  2. EU crisis management operations
  3. Non-proliferation
  4. Sanctions
  5. EU Special Representatives 
  6. Other crosscutting issues

Working Party of Foreign Relations Counsellors – Sanctions

The group was established in 2004 with a view to sharing best practices in ensuring effective and uniform implementation of various EU sanction regimes, as well as revision and implementation of common guidelines for sanctions implementation.

Working Party on Public International Law

The working group 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 field.

Working Party on Public International Law - International Criminal Court

The group is devoted to issues concerning the International Criminal Court (ICC). It deals with cooperation with the ICC, promotion of participation in the ICC and exchange of information, and it seeks to coordinate the Member States’ approach to various issues that continually arise in relation to the ICC. The working party meets informally with the NGOs at each meeting. It is also customary to have guests from the ICC or other tribunals.

Working Party on the Law of the Sea

The working group deals with 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, such as 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 the 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:

  1. Promoting a stronger UN
  2. International peace and security
  3. Reform of the UN system
  4. UN agencies, programmes, funds and conferences

Working Party on the OSCE and the Council of Europe

The group deals with the EU’s relations to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Development in Europe) and the Council of Europe. The 27 European Member States represent a substantial part of the 56 OSCE members and the 47 members of the Council of Europe. The main purpose of the group is to coordinate a common European position on the issues debated in the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

Working Party on Human Rights (COHOM)

The mandate of this working party includes responsibility for shaping the EU’s human rights policy in its external relations. It is composed of experts from the Member States and members of the Commission. COHOM’s assignment is to monitor developments in the area of Human Rights throughout the world and prepare guidelines and assessments of the EU’s approach to certain issues and individual events.

Working Party on Transatlantic Relations (COTRA)

This group 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 on-going issues on the transatlantic agenda and prepares the annual summits with the USA and Canada.

Working Party on Eastern Europe and Central Asia

This working party works on EU relations with countries in Eastern Europe (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). It deals with all aspects of EU cooperation with these countries. This also includes formats 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). The group also deals at a general level with Arctic issues.

Working Party on EFTA

The scope of this working party is EU relations to the EFTA countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). The field of work covers a wide range of issues, e.g. tax issues, participation in the Schengen cooperation, certain matters relating to fisheries, and food trade. In addition, the EFTA working group prepares issues regarding the European Economic Area (EEA), including meetings of the EEA council.

Working Party on the Western Balkans Region (COWEB)

This group 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 with the stabilization and association processes and the financial Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).

Ad hoc Working Party on the Middle East Peace Process (COMEP)

This group deals with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy with regard to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Middle East/Gulf Working Party (COMEM)

This group deals with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (and also issues of Community competence) with regard to Iran, Iraq, Yemen and the Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Oman, the Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait).

Mashreq/Maghreb Working Party (COMAG)

This group deals with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy 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 covers the Union for the Mediterranean, i.e. EU cooperation with countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Africa Working Party (COAFR)

The main responsibility of this group is to follow and analyse the development in the Sub-Saharan African countries, including questions regarding prevention and management of conflicts, and to secure a coordinated and coherent EU policy in relation to the countries and regions concerned. Furthermore, the group is in charge of communication with the African Union and other sub-regional organisations. Finally, the group prepares Africa-related discussions in the Political and Security Committee, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) and the Council (external affairs).

ACP Working Party

The 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 European Union and developing countries. The agreement provides a framework for cooperation within the pillars of development and trade as well as a political dimension.

Asia-Oceania Working Party (COASI)

This group has overall responsibility for issues concerning EU relations with Asia and Oceania. The group meets four times a month and 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 with regard to individual countries and regions in Asia.

Working Party on Latin America (COLAT)

This group is responsible for issues concerning EU relations with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its work covers a broad range of issues including policy, economics and trade (issues 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 is the main forum for information exchange and EU coordination on the international aspects of the fight against terrorism. One of its main tasks is to carry out threat analyses with regard to third countries in order to enhance EU cooperation with these countries on combating international terrorism. The working group also prepares meetings for the dialogue on terrorism which the EU is conducting with third countries.

Working Party on Non-Proliferation

In this working party the EU Member States cooperate to promote non-proliferation, to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands as well as to ensure that international agreements on non-proliferation are implemented. The actions and dialogues on non-proliferation issues with third countries are also coordinated.

Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports

This group works on issues concerning export controls for conventional arms. The Member States communicate and share information on their export policies towards third countries and on national denials of applications for export licences to third countries. Another important aspect of the work of this group is discussions on outreach activities and the establishment of political dialogue with third countries. Furthermore, the group is engaged in the on-going UN process for the adoption of an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

Working Party on Global Disarmament and Arms Control

This working party coordinates the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) within the field of global disarmament. The group discusses questions relating to the international agreements on prohibitions of special conventional weapons, land mines, cluster munitions, biological and chemical weapons as well as UN related matters. The working party further deals with EU support for various projects in those regards.

Working Party on Dual-Use Goods

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 on dual-use goods is the EU Dual-Use Regulation, including the control list. The working party works on revising the regulation, updating the control list, technical issues of how to apply it and the coordination of EU proposals within multilateral export control regimes.

Politico-Military Group (PMG)

This group is responsible for handling the politico-military aspects of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).  The PMG, among other things, monitors the progress of military and combined civilian/military operations.  The PMG consists of Member State officials. The group prepares matters that are to be referred to the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

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 it in its work on the military aspects of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

Working Party on Trade Questions (WPTQ)

This group is a forum for discussion between the Member States and the European Commission on EU legislation concerning trade policy and trade defence (primarily measures against dumping and subsidies). Furthermore, the WPTQ is a forum for discussions on horizontal trade policy issues, including orientations from the Commission concerning negotiations and decisions in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Working Party on the Generalised System of Preferences

This working group negotiates the Commission's proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation applying the scheme of generalized tariff preferences.

Working Party on Development Cooperation

The working party 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 and reproductive health and crosscutting issues such as trade & development and environment.

Working Party on Preparation for International Development Conferences

This working party meets when necessary, depending on the international meeting agenda. During the Danish EU Presidency, the main focus is expected to be preparations for the Thirteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII) on “Development-centred globalization: Towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development”, which will take place on 21-26 April 2012 in Doha, Qatar.

Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid

This Council working party allows for exchange of views on the humanitarian strategies and policies of the European Union as well as response to humanitarian crises. The working party aims at:

  1. promoting the European consensus on humanitarian aid
  2. highlighting causes and consequences of humanitarian crises
  3. improving EU coordination of humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction
  4. strengthening coordination between humanitarian assistance, relief, reconstruction and development assistance.

Working Party on Commodities (PROBA)

This working party is responsible for discussions on commodity policies and issues, including those related to sustainability, commodity dependence, supply security and trade and development. Furthermore, the working party coordinates and prepares the EU position with a view 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

This working party is composed of representatives from consular departments of EU Member States and normally convenes 2-3 times per presidency in Brussels. The mission of the working party is to coordinate consular cooperation among EU Member States, in particular assistance to EU citizens during crises in third countries.

Working Party on CFSP Administrative Affairs and Protocol

This working party consists of two sub-groups: one for certain administrative issues including training (e.g. the European Diplomatic Programme and the European Security and Defence College), and one for protocol issues.

Nicolaidis Group

This group prepares the meetings of the Political and Security Committee (PSC). The group is therefore equivalent to the Antici and Mertens Groups, which undertake preparations for the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER). The Member States are represented by close associates of the PSC Ambassadors. The Nicolaidis Group meets twice a week, always on the day before a PSC meeting.

Working Party on the Application of Specific Measures to Combat Terrorism

The working party processes applications for listing and delisting of individuals, groups and entities involved in terrorism under the Common Position concerning sanctions against such actors. The working party also prepares the regular review of the list.

 

Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN)

Economic Policy Committee

The Committee is responsible for economic policy with 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 areas such as labour, product and service market reforms, the quality and sustainability of public finances, growth and employment etc.

Financial Services Committee (FSC)

This committee was set up to provide for cross-sectorial strategic reflection separate from the legislative process; to help define the medium- and long-term strategy for financial services issues; to consider sensitive short-term issues; to assess progress and implementation; and to provide political advice and oversight on both internal and external issues. The FSC works closely with the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), especially as regards preparing meetings in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

Working Party on Own Resources

This working party deals with matters that concern the Council’s own resources decision (which regulates the EU budget financing system) and the implementing regulation for the own resources decision.

Working Party of Financial Counsellors

This working party’s 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 Party is responsible for negotiating financial market issues such as banking, securities, infrastructure, and insurance questions.

Working Party on Tax Questions

This working party meets in two subgroups. The subgroup on indirect taxation deals with harmonised indirect taxes – value added tax and excise duties on alcohol, tobacco and energy. The subgroup on direct taxation deals with the taxation of savings, interest and royalties, administrative cooperation, etc.

Code of Conduct Group (Business taxation)

This group works to combat harmful tax competition in corporate taxation. The Code is not a legally binding instrument but it does have some political force. By adopting the Code, the Member States have undertaken to 1) roll back existing tax measures that constitute harmful tax competition, and 2) refrain from introducing any such measures in the future.

High Level Working Party on Tax Questions (HLWP)

This working party 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.

Budget Committee

This committee is responsible for Community budget matters. The budget work is cyclical in nature and thus every year the Committee deals with the same issues concerning the process of completing and improving the budget for the coming year. In addition to these duties, the Committee handles current issues on the implementation of the current budget, e.g. transfers and budget amendments. The Committee also handles matters concerning financial regulation, and modernisation of the European Commission’s internal accounting.

Working Group on Combating Fraud

This working group 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 on 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 plus various annual reports on the protection of the financial interests of the Union.

Export Credits Group

In this group the Member States coordinate their position on export credit issues that are negotiated in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This cooperation aims to ensure that the countries do not undercut each other and create unfair competition. Accordingly, the countries lay down common rules and standards for guarantees and loans. Among other things, the agreement defines frameworks for minimum premiums, repayment profiles, maximum credit terms and minimum interest rates.

 

Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)

Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI)

COSI was created to strengthen operational cooperation regarding the internal security of the EU. Thus, the key objective of the Committee, 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)

This committee 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

This working party deals with issues related to entry, exit and integration. 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 integration collaboration focuses on promoting and supporting national integration policies.

Visa Working Party

This working party deals with broad issues connected with the establishment of a common visa policy in relation to third country citizens and the procedures and conditions for issuing visas.

Asylum Working Party

This working party deals with asylum issues. The group 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. All these legislative measures constitute the Common European Asylum System, which is to be finalized by the end of 2012.

Working Party on Frontiers

This working party deals with the legislation regulating the crossing of external borders of the EU, the 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 also addressed in this group.

Working Party on Civil Law Matters (JUSTCIV)

This working party deals with legislative initiatives in the area of civil law cooperation. It also 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)

This working party considers initiatives to prevent and fight terrorism. At TWP meetings, relevant national experience and initiatives as well as information about current terrorism-related incidents are exchanged between the Member States.

Customs Cooperation Working Party (CCWP)

This working party is responsible for the coordination of customs cooperation between Member States. The group works continuously to improve cooperation between customs authorities and between customs and police. The group adopts action plans, projects etc. and proposals for Joint Customs Operations (JCO).

Under the CCWP a group of experts is tasked inter alia with making proposals pertaining to JCOs for approval by the CCWP.

Working Party on Cooperation in Criminal Matters (COPEN)

COPEN deals with initiatives (typically legislative initiatives) regarding cooperation between the Member States in criminal matters, 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 related to criminal procedure.

Working Party on Civil Protection (PROCIV)

This working party deals with the Union's efforts to prevent and manage natural and manmade disasters, such as floods, forest fires and earthquakes. The work addresses issues concerning mutual disaster assistance between the EU Member States as well as the EU coordination of joint disaster assistance to third countries outside Europe. Moreover, work also includes cross-sector cooperation on the protection of European critical infrastructure and security cooperation on efforts in the area of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear materials (CBRN) in the fight against terrorism.

Working Party on Fundamental Rights, Citizens Rights and Free Movement of Persons (FREMP)

This working party has been established to secure compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, also in connection with preparatory work in the legislative procedures of the Council. FREMP also considers the question of the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Working Party on Information Exchange and Data Protection (DAPIX)

DAPIX addresses issues relating to information exchange and data protection. On the information exchange side, this working party draws up EU strategies for ensuring the exchange of information between the law enforcement authorities of the 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 purpose of this working party is to ensure 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 when 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 prepares the work of the Council in the areas of criminal law and law enforcement cooperation. This means that a variety of cases from the relevant Council working parties are discussed from a more strategic and coordinating perspective in the Committee before being put before the Permanent Representatives Committee (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

This working party meets in four different formations, each dealing with particular areas within the Schengen system. These are: evaluation mechanisms which are dealt with in the SCHEVAL Group, the Schengen Information System which is dealt with in the SIS SIRENE Group, technical questions which are dealt with in the SIS-TECH Group, and the Schengen rules which are dealt with in the 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. In addition, this working party plans evaluations of the Member States’ compliance with international obligations in this area.

 

Agriculture and Fisheries (AGRI)

Special Committee on Agriculture (CSA)

The Special Committee on Agriculture prepares the meetings of ministers of agriculture and fisheries with regard to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Fisheries, foodstuffs, veterinary policy and phytosanitary issues are prepared in the Committee of Permanent Representatives, COREPER I. Prior to this, these issues have usually been discussed at a lower level in one of the CAP working parties. The Special Committee on Agriculture usually meets once a week.

High Level Group on Agriculture

In this group, senior officials from Member States discuss matters concerning agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy.

Working Party on Agricultural Structures and Rural Development

This group is responsible for issues in the area of rural development within the framework of the second pillar of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

Issues falling under the Special Committee on Agriculture that are linked to support to 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. Certain other issues linked to sustainable and rural development under the Agriculture and Fisheries Council are prepared by this group.

The group meets in subgroups covering the following issues:
- Agriculture and Environment
- Rural Development
- Agricultural Structures
- Aegean Islands

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Horizontal Agricultural Questions

This is a joint working group for the simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy from the perspective of producers and agencies.

It is also used as a forum in which general issues related to the Common Agricultural Policy are discussed.

The group meets in subgroups covering the following issues:
- Simplification of the CAP
- Strengthening of controls

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on the Promotion of Agricultural Products

Support is given for promoting 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.

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Genetic Resources in Agriculture

This group 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 re-sources of agriculture
- to contribute to the implementation of the Biodiversity Action Plan for Agriculture
- to promote the exchange of information and close cooperation between Member States
- to 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 for organic agriculture, geographical indications and designations of origin, and certificates of a specific nature.

The group meets in subgroups covering the following issues:
- Organic Farming
- Geographical Indications and Designations of Origin
- Certificates of Specific Character

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Animal Products

This is a joint working group for beef and veal, sheepmeat and goatmeat, pigmeat, eggs and poultry, milk and milk products and beekeeping and honey.

The group is responsible for the Common Market Organisation in each area.

 The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Arable Crops

This Working Party is responsible for issues related to cereals, oilseeds, rice, protein crops, fodder and seeds.

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Sugar and Isoglucose

The group is responsible for issues concerning sugar, isoglucose and insulin syrup. The issues it prepares include draft legislation for common market regulations.

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Fruit and Vegetables

This group is responsible for issues concerning fresh fruit and vegetables and processed products made of fruit, vegetables and bananas. The issues it prepares include draft legislation for common market regulations.

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Olive Oil

The group is responsible for issues related to olive oil and table olives. The issues it prepares include draft legislation for common market regulations.

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Wines and Alcohol

This is a joint common working party for issues concerning wines, wine products, aromatised wines, vinegar, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), spirit drinks and agriculture-based ethanol.

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Special Plant Products

This group is responsible for issues concerning floriculture, hops, tobacco, cotton, linen, hemp and silkworms. The issues it prepares include draft legislation for common market regulations.

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

Working Party on Products not listed in Annex I

All the agricultural and food products included in the Common Agricultural Policy are listed in An-nex I of the Treaty. This working party deals with questions related to processed goods, which are not included in Annex I. Support to these products is regulated in a special Council regulation.

The working party reports to the Special Committee on Agriculture.

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

This working party deals with forest-related issues, as regards 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 fledgling process of negotiation on a legally binding agreement on forests in Europe (LBA). LBA will be one of the key issues for the group over the next two years.  In recent years the EU-internal discussions have mainly been focused on the development of new EU regulation of timber trade (an import licensing system and a general regulation (EUTR)). The Forest Group typically meets 5-6 times per half year.

Working Party on Agricultural Questions

This group consists of subgroups and works with labelling 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

This group discusses general, overall issues in the area of plant protection.

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

Working Party on Plant Health

This group is responsible for issues involving protection and inspection and propagating and planting materials in the area of plant protection.

This 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 as regards the plant and phytosanitary sectors. The group meets in subgroups covering the following issues:

- Protection and Inspection
- Propagating and Planting Materials
- Roosendaal Group

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

Working Party of Chief Veterinary Officers


This group 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 is to draw up guidelines for expert working groups, analyse proposals from working parties before they are brought up in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) and work with core issues in the field of veterinary medicine in connection with discussions between the EU and third countries. This group generally meets once a month.

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

Working Party of Veterinary Experts


This working party works with public health, animal health and welfare, animal husbandry and fishery products. In addition, the group coordinates questions of principle and prepares texts for veterinary agreements between the EU and third countries. The group meets in subgroups covering the following issues:

- Public Health
- Animal Health
- Animal Welfare
- Animal Husbandry
- Fishery Products
- Potsdam Group

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

Coordination Working Party

This group is responsible for coordination of multilateral issues, and meet when the Member States are to coordinate their positions in connection with 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 name of the regulatory framework for food products, drawn up in the UN framework under the name the FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.

The Programme is common to the FAO and WHO, but the FAO has a broader responsibility, both practically and economically. Codex Alimentarius is an international, worldwide organisation with the task of producing international standards in the field of food products. Its purpose is to protect consumer health and guarantee good standards in the international food trade.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is the highest decision-making body. Under the Codex Commission are some thirty committees that prepare matters for the Commission. These committees usually meet once a year. All the EU Member States and the EU (represented by the European Commission) are members of Codex Alimentarius. Before each Codex meeting, coordination takes place in this Council Working Party in preparation for joint EU positions. Follow-up from previous meetings also takes place at these meetings.

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

Working Party on External Fisheries Policy


This group deals with EU external relations in the area of fisheries.

Its work includes preparations ahead of bilateral negotiations with other states (at present the EU has 23 such agreements, i.e. third country agreements) and multilaterally within the framework of international organisations such as 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 draws up EU positions ahead of meetings with these organisations.

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

Working Party on Internal Fisheries Policy

This working party deals with issues involving the EU’s internal fisheries policy.

These issues involve resource policy including issues concerning total allowable catches (TAC), technical conservation measures, etc. Other issues include structural policy, market and trade policy and fisheries controls.

There is a link between the external and internal fisheries policy. 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.

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

Working Party of Directors-General of Fisheries Departments

Every country holding the EU Presidency convenes a meeting of the EU Directors-General for Fisheries. These meetings are of an informal nature. The issues discussed at these meeting are often those that are generally on the EU agenda. Issues that will be dealt with at a later date in the EU are also discussed at the group’s meetings. The results of these discussions often provide the basis for further discussion and decisions.

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

Ad hoc Working Party on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

This working party deals with legislation and regulation of cultivation and marketing of genetically modified organisms.

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

 

Competitiveness (COMPET)

Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth

The main responsibility of this group is issues such as the single market, industry policy, better regulation and competitiveness in the EU. The group treats matters in 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, respectively Single Market, Industry and Better regulation. The composition of these groups varies according to the agenda. The group primarily prepares council conclusions and recommendations in the policy area, which are later treated in the Competitiveness Council.

The Working Party on Copyright

Based on initiatives from the Commission, among others, the Working Party on Copyright prepares the work of the Council. The Working Party on Copyright discusses proposals and other matters regarding copyright and related rights. The European work and strategies in international fora such as WIPO are also prepared and coordinated by this working party.

The Danish Presidency looks forward to dealing with the following main themes:

  • The Commission proposal for a directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works.
  • Possible negotiations on a new regional instrument regarding protection of the rights of broadcasters.
  • A Future Commission initiative on collective rights management.
  • WIPO

Working Party on Public Procurement

This 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. The group prepares Council conclusions and recommendations in the policy area, which are later treated in the Competitiveness Council.

Working Party on Intellectual Property

This working party is responsible for questions concerning intellectual property. The function of the working party is primarily preparing legislation, but it also deals with other questions. Iit is inter alia responsible for the work on trademark legislation and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Coordination meetings on patent and copyright issues before meetings in the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) are also held. The group prepares council conclusions and recommendations in the policy area, which are later treated in the Competitiveness Council.

Working Party on Company Law

This working party is responsible for corporate law issues. They negotiate various proposals in the field of corporate law, inter alia proposals concerning European Corporate Forms as well as matters concerning e.g. corporate governance, accounting and auditing. Council conclusions and recommendations within the policy area are also discussed in the group. The Company Law working party refers mainly to the Competitiveness Council.

Working Party on Establishment and Services

The working party is responsible for establishment and services, including the Services Directive and regulation regarding mutual recognition of professional qualifications. Thus the group discusses how regulation in the area can become more homogenous, transparent and flexible. Additionally, aspects of online betting and online gaming are discussed, and the group prepares progress reports, Council conclusions and recommendations, which are later treated in the Competitiveness Council.

Working Party on Technical Harmonisation

This working party decides on common rules for the design and naming of products or 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. The group prepares Council conclusions and recommendations in the policy area, which are later treated in the Competitiveness Council.

Working Group on Technical Harmonization – Motor Vehicles

This working group deals with drafts of proposals for legislation on type approval of cars and their trailers, of mopeds and motorcycles as well as agricultural and forestry vehicles.

Working Party on Customs Union (Customs Union Group (CUG))

This 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 is the group that processes matters in the research area before they come up for decision at Council meetings. The work is centred on the research framework programmes as well as the more general framework conditions for European research.

Joint Working Party on Research/Atomic Questions

The main responsibility of this working group is to negotiate research related to issues under the EURATOM Treaty. Issues include research in nuclear safety, radiation protection and radioactive waste.

Working Party on Space

This working party 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).

 

Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (TTE)

Working Party on Land Transport

This working party deals with items concerning road and rail transport. During the Danish Presidency, among the main topics to be negotiated are the recast of the first railway package and revision of the regulation on recording equipment in road transport (the digital tachograph).

Working Party on Shipping

Shipping constitutes the foundation for a global economy and a service that contributes substantially to European income and employment. 80 % of world trade is transported by sea and European companies own 41 % of the fleet worldwide. Among the topics covered by the working party are regulation that will ensure shipping of a high quality characterized by a high level of security at sea and good education and training  and living conditions for seafarers, while keeping in mind the competitiveness of European companies internationally. Primarily, the group prepares and negotiates acts and directives, which are later treated in the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council.

Working Party on Aviation

This working party deals with items concerning aviation within the EU and the EU’s external aviation policies. During the Danish Presidency, among the main topics to be negotiated are revisions of legislation regarding airports and a number of aviation agreements with third countries.

Working Party on Transport - Intermodal Questions and Networks

This working party deals with items covering several different modes of transport. Topics expected to be on the agenda during the Danish Presidency include revision of the guidelines for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), the joint EU satellite navigation system Galileo etc.

Working Party on Telecommunications and Information Society

This 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

This working party prepares matters related to energy for the EU Council of Ministers. The working party handles matters from the time they are introduced by the Commission and negotiates, as far as possible, agreement on the technical aspects involved. Thereafter the negotiations proceed in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), and further at the Council of Ministers meetings.

 

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO)

Social Protection Committee (SPC)

The 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 as well as health care and long-term care exists within the framework of the “Open Method of Co-ordination”. According to the Open Method of Cooperation, the Member States together agree on broad political objectives, which the Member States implement 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 Denmark and Cyprus).

Working Party on Social Questions

This working party deals with labour legislation and work environment issues, gender equality and social matters.

Working Party on Public Health

This working party discusses issues concerning public health, health and medical care.

Working Party on Consumer Protection and Information

This working party primarily deals with issues in the area of consumer policy. The group takes decisions on issues such as the EU consumer policy programme and various legal acts in the area of consumer protection. The group prepares Council conclusions and recommendations in the policy area, which are later treated in the Competitiveness Council.

Working Party on Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices

This working party works on draft legislation regarding pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Working Party on Foodstuffs

This group deals with several different issues within the area of food products.

The working party reports to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).

 

Environment (ENVI)

Working Party on the Environment

This group’s main responsibility is negotiating issues within the area of the environment in the EU. A broad range of issues is dealt with by the group, including, air pollution, chemicals, waste, resource efficiency, natural resources, biodiversity, water and the marine environment.

Working Party on International Environment Issues

This group’s main responsibility is to negotiate and coordinate environmental issues within the framework of international negotiations conducted in the area of 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)

Education Committee

This 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. The work carried out in the committee is intended to support the Member States’ work on education and training.

Working Party on Youth

This working party prepares the items for decision by EU ministers for youth. The work includes such horizontal youth issues 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. The work is coordinated with other relevant working parties.

Committee on Cultural Affairs

This committee is responsible for cultural affairs. The Committee evaluates and discusses all proposals relating to EU cultural cooperation and EU initiatives in the area of culture and prepares the work of the Council. The Committee’s work is based on the overall European Cultural Agenda and the Work Plan established by the EU ministers for culture for the period 2011–2014.

Audiovisual Working Party

This 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, including the creative and cultural content of the Internet, and media literacy.

Working Party on Sport

The working party deals with EU sports issues and prepares the work of the Council in the field of sport. The work of the working party is connected to the European Union Work Plan for Sport from 2011. 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).