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In diplomatic matters, a formally informal paper that will not itself be on the agenda of, or tabled at, a formal meeting.

A non-paper may or may not identify its author, originating body, etc.

A non-paper can be used for many purposes. For example

  • To float an idea or a variety of ideas to see how others respond, gauging likely support or opposition or perhaps current opposition but possible support at a later date or in other circumstances.
  • To contribute to others' impression that an idea is gathering support, that, soon its "time will come".
  • To gather others' input to making the matter more practical or more widely acceptable.
  • To promote hostility to the idea that one State or body may know, suspect or fear may be proposed by another State or body.
  • To help discover arguments against the positions taken in the paper.
  • To record, informally, the results of an informal discussion, so that States/bodies involved know others' expectations in relation to the matter of the discussion.
  • To leak to lobbyists, etc. to get them to lobby for or against proposals, concepts, etc. in the paper.
  • To have available to leak later to influence evolution of the matter while being able to deny it was ever other than an old, unused draft.

In the European Union, non-papers may be issued not only by representatives of Member States but by the European Commission, by Agencies, by groupings in the European Parliament, Council, etc.

See also