The Permanent Representation of Austria to the EU
- represents the Austrian Federal Government in its relations with the Member States and the European Institutions and acts on the basis of instructions;
- represents Austria in the preparation of the legislative decision-making process within the Union on the level of ambassadors and deputy ambassadors as well as in Working Parties;
- negotiates compromises with other Permanent Representatives, the European Commission and with the European Parliament (e.g. budget, co-decision procedure...);
- draws up reports, analyses and previews to provide a precise basis for the formulation of Austrian positions in the Council of Ministers;
Its main task is to ensure that Austrian interests find their way into the policy of the Union
With a staff of more than 60 national experts, the Permanent Representation to the EU is Austria's largest diplomatic mission and consists of representatives of all Federal Ministries, the representative of the Austrian "Länder", the Austrian Association of Cities and Towns, the Austrian Association of Municipalities, Social Partners and the Austrian National Bank. Ambassador Walter Grahammer, who represents Austria at meetings of the Permanent Representatives Committee II (COREPER II) heads the Permanent Representation. His deputy, Harald Günther, is responsible for COREPER I.
The Austrian Representative to the Political and Security Committee is Ambassador Alexander Marschik.
How the Permanent Representation works
The decision-making process of the European Communities starts with a proposal of the European Commission.The deliberations until the final adoption of the proposal are split up into three phases:
- Examination and discussion of the proposal by the responsible Council Working Party
- Examination and discussion of the proposal by COREPER I or II
- Decision by the Council of Ministers
Delegates from the Permanent Representation, if necessary supported by experts from the capital, present Austria's position in their Working Parties (about 260 different formations hold more than 4000 meetings per year).
COREPER meets weekly in two different configurations:
COREPER II, on the level of the Permanent Representatives, deals with interinstitutional, international, financial and budgetary questions, development co-operation and issues concerning justice and home affairs. The meetings of the CORPER II are prepared by the "Antici"-group, named after the Italian diplomat who was the first chairman of this group.
COREPER I, on the level of Deputy Permanent Representatives, deals with the following issues: internal market, consumer protection, tourism, transport, telecommunications, research, industry, energy, social affairs, health, education, youth, culture, environment and fisheries. The meetings are prepared by the "Mertens"-group, named after the Belgium diplomat, who became the first chairman of this group.
The work of the Agriculture Council meeting is mainly prepared by the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA)
National ministers meet in the Council of ministers. The Council meets in ten different configurations about 100 times per year. The meetings usually take place in Brussels, meetings in April, June and October are held in Luxembourg. The Council adopts issues that have already been agreed on by the COREPER as so-called A-points and tries to reach an agreement on controversial questions that couldn't be solved at an earlier stage.
Transparency, Information and Press
One of the major concerns of the Permanent Representation is to bring Austria's role in the European Union closer to the Austrian citizens. Therefore, the Permanent Representation established a special service: a Visitors Service offers, free of charge, programmes for visitors from Austria consisting of lectures and discussions with experts on EU issues.
In addition, the Permanent Representation attaches great importance to the relations to the press, which has to get a transparent view of the decision-making process of the Union. More than 1000 correspondents are accredidated at the European Institutions. By organising press conferences and briefings before and after Councils or other major events like the European Council, preparing background information and answering requests, we try to contribute to a comprehensive media-coverage of the European Union.