Each EU member state has a permanent representation in Brussels, which represents the country’s interests vis-à-vis the EU institutions.
Once Spain’s treaty of accession to the EU came into force in 1986, the Permanent Representation of Spain to the EU was created by Royal Decree 260/1986 of 17 January, and amended by Royal Decree 240/2000 of 18 February.
REPER is headed by the permanent representative ambassador, the highest authority of this body, who is appointed by the government on the proposal of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In addition, the diplomatic mission has a deputy permanent representative.
The Permanent Representative and the Deputy Permanent Representative are responsible for the counsellors, secretaries of embassies and attachés required to perform the functions of the Permanent Representation.
Each of the ministries has at least one adviser, whose mission is to inform, represent the country’s position and negotiate in the EU Council working parties on issues within their competence that are dealt with in the different EU institutions, such as the European Commission and the Parliament, among others.
REPER is in constant contact with all interlocutors on EU-related issues:
- Autonomous communities.
- Deputies and senators.
- Local authorities.
- Business representatives.
- Trade unions.
- Associations and NGOs.
It also liaises with all the actors involved in the decision-making process, always seeking a balance between Spain’s interest and the common European interest.
REPER is also the channel through which all official communications between the Spanish Administration and the EU institutions are sent and received.
Two levels of work: counsellors and ambassadors
This work is done at two levels: that of advisers and that of ambassadors.
The REPER advisers meet with their counterparts from the member states in the so-called working groups (there are more than 150), wherein they defend Spain’s positions. They also prepare the meetings of the second level, that of the ambassadors.
The permanent representative ambassadors meet at least once a week in the so-called Permanent Representatives Committees (COREPER), a body that brings together the ambassadors of all EU member states on a weekly basis to prepare EU Council decisions.
In this chain of work, the ambassadors prepare the meetings of the ministers, relying on the work done by the advisers, and negotiate positions on as many of the issues already advanced to the thematic Councils in which the ministers responsible for the matter take part. It is at these Councils, chaired by the ministers of the country holding the rotating presidency, that decision-making is formalised.