Permanent Representations play a key role in ensuring the day-to-day follow-up of all matters handled at Council levels, both as regards the supplying of information and analysis to their national government and as regards the communication of the position of their government to the relevant EU institutions. Their main task is to act as an “extended arm” of their national government in Brussels and to ensure that the interests and policies of their country are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Permanent Representations are headed by a Permanent Representative that carries the title of Ambassador, assisted by a Deputy. Both play a crucial role through their presence in Coreper I and II, the body that prepares the dossiers discussed at Council.
Many of the civil servants working in the Permanent Representations are actually posted there by various national ministries. Their titles vary from First Secretary, Counselor, Attaché, etc, not taking into consideration the military staff present in each Permanent Representation.
In many cases, although the decision making power lies very much at the national level in terms of the Council (in other words, it is more effective to lobby directly at the level of the national ministries), the staff of the Permanent Representations are worth meeting as they sit in most of the Working Groups and are more likely to pay attention to an issue for which they received some detailed explanation by stakeholders.