COREPER, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (the name COREPER comes from the French acronym – Comité des représentants permanents), is a committee of senior diplomats based in the Council that works beneath minister level to negotiate on behalf of national governments.
The COREPER members are based permanently in Brussels and are, in effect, national ambassadors to the EU. The vast amount of Council decisions are worked out at COREPER level and ministers often only have to negotiate on very difficult issues that COREPER is unable to resolve.
There are in fact two COREPERs: COREPER I and COREPER II.
COREPER I deals with the less sensitive areas of policy such as the environment or transport. It is made up of the Deputy Permanent Representatives and support staff. COREPER II works on higher-level political and economic issues and is thus deemed the more important of the two. COREPER II is made up of the Permanent Representatives and support staff and, like COREPER I, COREPER II meets usually once a week.