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Chapter

14. The Committee of Permanent Representatives:  

integrating interests and the logics of action

Jeffrey Lewis

The Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) originated as a diplomatic forum to meet regularly and prepare meetings of the Council of Ministers. It quickly and quietly evolved into a locus of continuous negotiation and de facto decision-making, gaining a reputation as ‘the place to do the deal’. This reputation is based on insulation from domestic audiences and an unrivalled ability to make deals stick across a range of issue areas and policy subjects. Most importantly, Coreper spotlights the process of integrating interests in a collective decision-making system with its own organizational culture, norms, and style of discourse. In actual operation, the Committee has much to offer institutional theorizing, as multiple ‘logics’ of action are discernible and often complexly entwined.

Chapter

This chapter examines the role of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) in the European Union. Coreper originated as a diplomatic forum to meet regularly and prepare meetings of the Council of Ministers. It evolved into a locus of continuous negotiation and de facto decision-making, gaining a reputation as ‘the place to do the deal’. Coreper is the site in EU decision-making where national interests and European solutions interact more frequently, more intensively, and across more issue areas than any other. The chapter first provides an overview of the origins of Coreper before discussing its structure and powers. It then considers how Coreper, as an institutional environment, gives rise to what neo-institutionalists call ‘logic of appropriateness’, which informs bargaining behaviour and influences everyday decision-making outcomes.