The General Secretariat of the Council (GSC) is the body of staff responsible for assisting 2 EU institutions:

  • the European Council
  • the Council of the EU, including its presidencies, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) and the other Council committees and working parties

The GSC helps organise and ensure the coherence of the Council's work and the implementation of its 18-month programme. It assists the European Council and its President and also supports the Council presidency in negotiations within the Council and with the other EU institutions.

Main tasks

The main tasks of the GSC are:

  • to assist, advise and help coordinate the work of the Council and the European Council, including the implementation of the Council's 18-month programme
  • to support the Council presidency in negotiations within the Council and with other EU institutions
  • to provide logistical support and handle the practical organisation of meetings (including meeting rooms, document production and translation)
  • to prepare draft agendas, reports, notes and minutes of meetings at all levels

When necessary, the GSC also handles the practical organisation of high-level meetings with heads of state and government or ambassadors from non-EU countries.

In addition, the GSC legal service gives opinions to the Council and its committees, in order to ensure that Council acts are lawful and well-drafted. It also represents the Council in judicial proceedings before the European Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal.

The GSC also has a number of very specific responsibilities.

Support for certain Council committees and working parties 

Council preparatory bodies

The Council is assisted by more than 150 working parties and committees, known as 'preparatory bodies'

In addition to handling the practical organisation of meetings and the preparation of related meeting documents, the GSC also chairs the following Council committees and working parties:

  • Security Committee, and its subareas (Information Assurance, GNSS experts, Security Accreditation Board)
  • Working Party on Information
  • Working Party on E-Law
  • Coordination Committee for Communication and Information Systems
  • Working Party on Codification of Legislation
  • Working Party of Legal/Linguistic Experts

The Council also provides the secretariat for the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC), its 2 working parties and its steering board.

ERAC is one of the Council's preparatory bodies responsible for supporting the implementation and monitoring of progress of the EU's Innovation Union initiative and developing the European Research Area.

It is supported by 2 ad hoc working parties, called the High Level Group on Joint Programming (GPC) and the Strategic Forum for International S&T Cooperation (SFIC).

The GSC is responsible for the logistical/administrative organisation of ERAC meetings and for drafting summary conclusions of meetings.

Public register of authentic identity and travel documents online (Prado)

The GSC is responsible for the development and hosting of Prado, a dedicated multilingual website giving information on the security features of identity and travel documents from the EU, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Prado aims to provide accurate information to specific sectors such as:

  • employers
  • post services
  • banks, credit authorities
  • security and guarding companies
  • vehicle hire agencies

Archives

The GSC is responsible for the  management of the Council's archives. Most of the files relate either to the different Council configuration meetings, Coreper meetings, meetings of other committees and working parties, or to the preparation of EU legislation

The Council has a central archives department which collects, processes and provides access to, the documents produced or received by the Council in the exercise of its functions.