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The Council is supported by the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the European Union (Coreper) and more than 150 highly specialised working parties and committees, known as the 'Council preparatory bodies'.

The preparatory bodies can be divided into two main categories:

  1. Committees set up by the treaties, intergovernmental decisions or by Council act - they are mostly permanent and often have an appointed or elected chairperson
  2. Committees and working parties set up by Coreper - these deal with very specific subjects and are chaired by the delegate of the country holding the rotating 6-month presidency of the Council.

In addition, ad hoc committees can be created for a specific purpose and cease to exist when their task is fulfilled.