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The General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, better known as Council Secretariat, assists the Council of the European Union and the EU Presidency. This institution is currently headed by Secretary-General Javier Solana, who is at the same time the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Pierre de Boissieu is currently the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council. The respective Secretariats of the Western European Union, Schengen Agreement and European Political Cooperation have in recent years been integrated with the Council Secretariat.

The tasks of the Council Secretariat are threefold (Christiansen 2002):
  • It "shall be closely and continually involved in organizing, coordinating and ensuring the coherence of the Council's work and implementation of its annual programme" . This involves 'traditional tasks', such as arranging rooms and translation, and making the minutes, but the Council Secretariat has also, due to its experience and continuity, gained a role as legal adviser and political counsellor to the EU Presidency.
  • The Council Secretariat also plays an important role in the EU's intergovernmental conferences (IGC), because it provides the IGC Secretariat. Apart from legal advice, it also tries to be an honest broker among member states. Close observer have argued that the Council Secretariat, together with the Presidency, is the most important actor in the IGC (Gray & Stubb 2001).
  • The Council Secretariat plays a particularly important role when it comes to the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Security and Defence Policy. Because the member states were afraid of losing sovereignty to the supranational European Commissionmarker, they have instead delegated authority to the Council Secretariat in this policy area. Within the Secretariat's directorates there are a substantial number of people working on foreign policy issues and the Secretariat is also home to the European Union Military Staff. Since January 2007 the Council Secretariat even has its own independent Operation Centre.

External links


References and further reading

  • Beach, D. (2004), ‘The unseen hand in treaty reform negotiations: the role and influence of the Council Secretariat’, Journal of European Public Policy, 11(3), pp. 408-439.
  • Christiansen, T. (2002a), ‘Out of the Shadows: The General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers’, Journal of Legislative Studies, 8(4), pp. 80-97.
  • Duke, S. & Vanhoonacker, S. (2006), ‘Administrative governance in the CFSP: development and practice’, European Foreign Affairs Review, 11(2), pp. 163-182.
  • Gray, M. & Stubb, A. (2001), ‘Keynote article: The Treaty of Nice – Negotiating a Poisoned Chalice?’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 39 Annual Review, pp. 5-23.
  • Hayes-Renshaw, F. & Wallace, H. (2006), The Council of Ministers, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Westlake, M. & Galloway, D. (2004), The Council of the European Union, London: John Harper.

See also

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