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Organisation and Responsibilities

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PermRep Germany, © AA

14.02.2020 - Article

Who are we?

The Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the European Union in Brussels (PermRep) represents Germany within and vis-à-vis the various institutions of the European Union. The term Permanent Representation typically designates a mission to an international or supranational organisation. Permanent Representations are the equivalent of embassies, which maintain political, economic and cultural relations with their host country.

The German Permanent Representation to the EU is the largest German mission abroad.
In view of the upcoming German Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2020, PermRep staff was recently increased to about 350 members. 

Our structure

The PermRep is headed by the Permanent Representative, his Deputy, and the Head of the Political and Security Committee, with all three holding the rank of Ambassador. They oversee the Political, Financial and Economic divisions, which in turn are subdivided into departments.
Our staff come from all German Federal Ministries and a number of German Federal Agencies. Members are posted to Brussels for several years by the Federal Foreign Office.

Administrative tasks are handled collectively by administration staff that are responsible for all three German missions in Brussels: the PermRep, the German Delegation to NATO, and the Geman Embassy in the Kingdom of Belgium. 

Our responsibilities

PermRep staff represent the Federal Government in nearly 140 committees and working parties within the EU institutions. They contribute to Germany’s EU policies, keep the Federal Government up to date on current developments, support German interests with regard to personnel employed at EU institutions and address the public by giving presentations and hosting events on current European Topics.

A core task is preparing the decisions of the Council of the European Union, which is the organ of the member states and is also called the Ministerial Council. Therefore, unlike any other German mission, the PermRep is directly involved in a legislative process.

This starts at specialist level, in so called Working Parties (WP), where desk officers from the 27 Permanent Representations discuss European subjects from a technical point of view. Examples of the many Working Parties are WP COLAC, which shapes EU relations with Latin America, and WP Energy, which works, among other things, on European directives for renewable energies.

Subsequently, political decisions are prepared in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), where 27 Ambassadors agree on the agendas for various dossiers and make proposals regarding upcoming decisions at meetings of the Council of Ministers.

There are two COREPER formats: In COREPER II, the Permanent Representatives – i.e., the Heads of the Permanent Representations of the 27 member states – deal with economic, financial and trade policy, justice and inner affairs, as well as with foreign and general affairs. In COREPER I, their Deputies deal with political issues in the fields of competitiveness, agriculture, education, labour and social affairs, the environment and infrastructure.

Final decisions are taken at the Ministerial Councils by the respective member state Ministers. Under the direction of a six-month presidency of one EU member state (Germany will take over in the second half of 2020), Ministers negotiate in the following 10 Council formations:

 Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin)

  • Foreign Affairs Council, including Defence, Trade, Development, Cohesion (FAC)
  • General Affairs Council, including Brexit negotiations (GAC)
  • Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA)
  • Agriculture and Fisheries Council (Agrifish)
  • Competitiveness Council, including internal markets & industry, research, space (COMPET)
  • Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (EYCS)
  • Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO)
  • Environment Council (ENVI)
  • Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (TTE)

At least twice per half-year, the European Heads of State and Government meet in Brussels at European Councils and decide on the general political guidelines for the work of the Commission and the Council of the European Union.

If you have questions on a topic or department, feel free to contact us.

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