The CEI Secretariat provides administrative and conceptual support to the CEI structure. It is also managing the CEI funds and instruments and takes appropriate initiatives aimed at promoting the realisation of the CEI mission and objectives.
The Secretariat was established in Trieste under the Austrian CEI Presidency in 1996 and upon an offer by the Italian Government to host its seat, with the aim to give a certain form of institutionalisation to the Initiative. The CEI Secretariat operates with the legal status of an International Organisation, based on a Headquarters Agreement concluded between the Italian Government and the CEI Presidency.
The seat in Trieste, via Genova 9, was made available to the CEI by the Italian Government through the Friuli Venezia Giulia Autonomous Region, free of charge and ties, under terms described in a Protocol concluded between the CEI Secretariat and the Region.
Since its establishment, the CEI Secretariat has been headed by Ambassador Paul Hartig (Austria) from 1996 to 2001; Ambassador Harald Kreid (Austria) from 2002 to 2007; Ambassador Pietro Ercole Ago (Italy) from 2008 to 2009; Ambassador Gerhard Pfanzelter (Austria) from 2010 to 2012. As of January 2013 the Secretary General is Ambassador Giovanni Caracciolo di Vietri.
The CEI Secretariat is made up of a team of professional and general service staff. The CEI professional staff is composed of highly-skilled individuals with specific educational background in international relations, economic and humanistic disciplines. The regular activities of the professional staff consist in providing – in coordination with the annually rotating CEI Presidency – administrative as well as conceptual support to the preparation and follow-up of the regular meetings of the Committee of National Coordinators (CNC), the high-level CEI meetings including the CEI Summit, the MFA Meeting and other CEI events. The staff of the Secretariat is also involved in the preparation, elaboration and circulation of pertinent documentation for the CNC as well as for other competent authorities of the CEI Member States and in the administration of relevant CEI funds and instruments. General Service Positions cover administration, accounting, secretarial and other office work.
The CEI Secretary General, his Alternate, the Deputy Secretary General and other staff members actively participate in many CEI, CEI-sponsored or other international events, and maintain regular contacts with other international organisations, international financial institutions and regional organisations.