Wednesday, 8 July 2009

EU Council: COREPER and General Secretariat (240 TFEU)

The original Treaty of Lisbon replaced the text of Article 207 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) by a new Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Hence, the only difference between the original ToL and the consolidated TFEU is that the provision was renumbered, becoming Article 240 TFEU (OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/154):

Article 240 TFEU
(ex Article 207 TEC)

1. A committee consisting of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States shall be responsible for preparing the work of the Council and for carrying out the tasks assigned to it by the latter. The Committee may adopt procedural decisions in cases provided for in the Council's Rules of Procedure.

2. The Council shall be assisted by a General Secretariat, under the responsibility of a Secretary-General appointed by the Council.

The Council shall decide on the organisation of the General Secretariat by a simple majority.

3. The Council shall act by a simple majority regarding procedural matters and for the adoption of its Rules of Procedure.



We note the following differences between Article 207 TEC and Article 240 TFEU:

• The Permanent Representatives are now described as representing the Governments of the Member States (instead of the Member States).
• There are small changes to the wording in the French and German treaty versions with regard to the responsibilities, but they are not material. The English version replaces ‘by the Council’ with ‘by the latter’.
• The top of the General Secretariat is reorganised by the Treaty of Lisbon. The High Representative becomes the chair of the Council configuration Foreign Affairs Council as well as one of the Vice-Presidents of the Commission. The Secretary-General of the Council (Secretariat) becomes a separate function. The Deputy Secretary-General is not mentioned specifically. The internal organisation, procedural matters and the Rules of Procedure will be decided by a simple majority. (There has been even less public discussion about the appointment of the new extremely influential position of Secretary-General than about the other top positions of the European Union.)
• The Article 207(3) TEC basic provision on access to documents has been removed from Article 240 TFEU. The corresponding provisions are found in the amended Article 16(8) TEU concerning the Council and Article 15(3) TFEU, with general application.


In the next posts we are going to look at preparatory work concerning the Lisbon Treaty, available information about the Council, as well as details concerning COREPER, the General Secretariat and the Council’s Rules of Procedure.

Ralf Grahn