Government Departments in the Permanent Representation
Almost all Departments of Ireland’s Government have an officer assigned to the Permanent Representation.
In addition, the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners are represented.
The Houses of the Oireachtas also have a staff member assigned to the Permanent Representation, but based in the European Parliament.
- Department of the Taoiseach; Foreign Affairs and Trade; Defence
- Department of Finance; Public Expenditure and Reform
- Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
- Department of Justice, Equality and Defence
- Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
- Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
- Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs
- Department of Education and Skills; Health; Social Protection
- Office of the Attorney General; Revenue Commissioners
The Department of the Taoiseach, supports the Taoiseach (Ireland’s Prime Minister) in his role as a member of the European Council, and supports the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the exercise of his overall responsibility for the co-ordination of EU affairs. The Division also assists the Minister of State for European Affairs, E.U. Digital Single Market and Data Protection.
The Department takes a strategic approach to Ireland’s engagement with the EU, including through bilateral engagement and alliance building. It works to improve engagement with the institutions in Brussels and with the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament), and to communicate more effectively about EU issues.
The Department also plays a role in promoting EU Jobs for Irish People.
For more information visit the Department of the Taoiseach European Union Division webpage.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade works to promote Ireland’s central role in Europe. Ireland helps to shape the EU through our input into economic and social policies and use our EU membership to make a valuable contribution to world affairs. Furthermore, we promote and protect Ireland’s interests in the EU through the work of the Permanent Representation to the EU, in cooperation with the Department of the Taoiseach and the various individual Departments, and through our Embassies in Europe and the wider field.
The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) allows the EU to act in a unified way on foreign policy and security issues and increases political co-operation between EU member states. The CFSP allows the EU to adopt external responses to international security or defence situations, in accordance with the UN Charter, including:
- Peacekeeping, crisis management and reconstruction efforts in troubled regions across the world through the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)
- Diplomatic or economic sanctions to promote peace and security
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade works closely with other Irish Departments of Government to manage Ireland’s involvement in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) activities. In this regard, the Department of Defence supports measures relating to capability development and the deployment of members of the Permanent Defence Forces in CSDP Missions and Operations such as, for example, EUTM Mali and EUFOR ALTHEA.
In Ireland, the Department of Finance has a central role in implementing Government policy, in particular the Programme for Government, and in advising and supporting the Minister for Finance and the Government on the economic and financial management of the State and the overall management and development of the public sector. In formulating this advice the Department is guided by its mission which is:
'To support the achievement of the Government’s economic and social objectives by promoting a sound, sustainable economic and budgetary environment, continuing improvements in the efficiency of public services, and an effective framework for financial services'
The Department of Finance Division in the Permanent Representation supports both the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance in their dealing with the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN). The Division promotes the strategy, coordination and promotion of national interests in formation of EU Economic Policy Coordination within ECOFIN.
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) is represented in the Permanent Representation through various Council formations and associated working groups. The Department’s role is to lead and coordinate Ireland’s interests in the Internal Market, Single Market, Research and Innovation, Employment, and Trade. In carrying out this work, the DJEI team liaises with relevant policy units within DJEI and acts as a communications link with the EU institutions and other Member States.
The Competitiveness Council’s (COMPET) role is to enhance competitiveness and increase growth in the EU. It deals with four major policy areas: Internal Market, Single Market, Industry, Research and Innovation, and space. In the Internal Market, it works to remove barriers that hinder cross-border flows of products, labour, capital and services. In the field of Industry, the Council combines an across-the-board approach, which aims to integrate industrial policy concerns into all other related EU policies, with a sector-specific approach that heeds the particular needs of each sector. This Council also works to improve the business environment, especially for SMEs, such as by improving access to funding, cutting red tape and fostering innovation. On Research and Innovation, and Space, the Council aims to strengthen the scientific and technological base of European industry, thus boosting its international competitiveness and driving growth and jobs.
The EPSCO Council (EPSCO) works to increase employment levels and improve living and working conditions, including health & safety. In the fields of employment and social policy, the Council is responsible for drawing up annual employment guidelines which the member states take into account in their national policies. It also adopts legislation, together with the European Parliament, aimed at improving working conditions, social inclusion and gender equality.
The FAC Trade Council in which the Department is responsible for the identification, formulation and development of Ireland’s international trade policies. It promotes Ireland’s trade interest at EU level trade policy negotiations. The EU fora include the Trade Policy Committees (TPCs) which assists the Commission in trade negotiations. Other EU trade committees, including those dealing with Anti-Dumping measures, are the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for developing countries and Market Access barriers and the Working Party on Trade Questions and Trade Defence Committee (Ask for new text in light of important area).
For more information visit the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation website
Staff from the Department of Justice, Equality and Defence deal with Justice and Home Affairs and Equality (JHA) issues in the Permanent Representation. Their function is to ensure that Ireland’s position in Justice and Home Affairs and Equality is well represented within the EU. Staff work closely with Department personnel in Dublin to ensure that the Permanent Representative and the Deputy Permanent Representative are well advised and assisted in COREPER on JHA issues. JHA staff represent Ireland at Counsellors’ meetings and other Council Working Groups and Committees.
The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council is the forum in which Justice ministers and Interior ministers meet to discuss the development and implementation of cooperation and common policies in the area of Justice, Freedom and Security. These include: cooperation in police and judicial criminal matters; asylum; migration; and, safeguarding the rights of EU citizens. The JHA Council aims to progressively achieve an area of freedom, security and justice.
Ireland, the United Kingdom and Denmark do not participate fully in a number of JHA matters. In particular, Ireland does not take part in the Schengen rules on free movement of persons, external border controls and visa policy.
For more information visit the Department of Justice EU/International webpage
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is represented in the Agriculture and Fisheries Unit of the Permanent Representation. It works to ensure that Irish interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU. In carrying out this work, the Unit acts as the day–to-day communication link between the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine and the EU institutions, NGOs and other Brussels-based organisations.
The core work of the unit revolves around EU legislation in the following areas: Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Food Safety, Animal Health and Welfare, Plant Health, Pesticides, GMOs and Forestry.
Cross-cutting legislation in areas such as environment, climate change, finance, research and innovation, though mainly the responsibilities of other Government Departments represented in the Permanent Representation, is also pursued to ensure that our agriculture and fisheries interests are protected.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council is the main legislative forum, in conjunction with the European Parliament and the EU Commission. Since December 2009, co-decision between the Council and European Parliament has been extended to agriculture and fisheries legislation. Accordingly, Irish MEPs and others are regularly updated by the Permanent Representation on the Government position relating to such legislation.
For more information visit the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine website
For more information on fisheries visit the Department's Sea Fisheries webpage
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is represented across several units of the Permanent Representation, including the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications units with relevant attachés.
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment works in the Environment Unit to advance Irish interests and national policy during the development of and implementation of environment policy/legislation agreed at EU level. The work of the unit includes participating in Working Party meetings on EU legislation in areas such as Climate Change, Air Quality, and Waste within the Environment Council (ENVI). ENVI works to promote a greener Europe through more efficient use of available natural resources, while also debating and working to develop solutions to the environmental challenges faced by Member States. In carrying out this work, the Unit acts as the day–to-day communication link between policy units within the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the EU institutions. The Unit also regularly meets with NGOs and other key European stakeholders.
For more information visit the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment website
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is responsible for all matters relating to energy in the Permanent Representation. At the EU level, energy issues are dealt with at the Energy Council. When contributing in the Energy Council, the key aims are to promote and pursue Ireland’s key energy goals and policy objectives through the accurate, timely and effective articulation and representation of Ireland’s position, in addition to promoting and pursuing our energy objectives with the EU Commission, European Parliament and other EU institutions and at European and international gatherings and other fora.
For more information visit the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment energy webpage
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is also responsible for all matters relating to Telecommunications and Information Society. At the EU level, Telecommunications and Information Society issues are dealt with at the Telecommunications Council. The Telecommunications attaché in the Permanent Representation is responsible for all matters relating to telecommunications, audio-visual and postal policy. All Commission legislative and non-legislative proposals in these policy areas are examined in the Council Working Party on Telecommunications and Information Society and major policy proposals are also debated by Ministers in the Telecommunications Council.
For more information visit the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment communications webpage
The Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs is particularly concerned with the Education, Youth and Culture (EYC) Council which brings together education, culture, youth and communication Ministers three or four times a year.
The Permanent Representation manages the relationship between the key Departments concerned including the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs as well as the Department of Education and skills, with various entities including the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and their sub-committees, working parties and management committees, as well as the European Parliament.
In particular, the PermRep maintains a broad overview of EU policy developments of relevance to both Departments and assesses the significance and impact of specific EU policies and programmes in relation to education, youth, culture and sport. It transmits necessary information, advice and reports to the respective Departments as appropriate. The Attachés also represent Ireland at a broad range of work meeting formations.
For more information visit the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs website
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) is serviced by a number of Government Departments, including the Department of Health, the Department of Social Protection, and the Department of Education and Skills.
Within the Permanent Representation, EPSCO Council issues are divided along the following lines:
- Employment Policy and Labour Law issues (including health and safety at work, corporate social responsibility, social dialogue, restructuring) are dealt with by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
- Equal Opportunities issues (including gender and disability equality, anti-discrimination) are dealt with by the Department of Justice, Equality and Defence.
- Health issues (including public health, pandemic preparedness planning, food safety and medicines, issues relating to cross-border health care) are dealt with by the Department of Health. Health Ministers generally meet twice a year.
- Social Protection issues (including pensions, social security, poverty and social inclusion) are dealt with by the Department of Social Protection
- (Occasionally, consumer policy issues feature on the agenda of the EPSCO Council, but they are usually on the agenda of the Competitiveness Council).
Within the Council, Member States may exchange ideas, information or share the results of the respective national experiences. This is done, in particular, within the framework of the Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee.
The EU’s mission in these areas is to raise the standard of living of its citizens, especially through high-quality employment as well as a high level of social protection, health and consumer protection, while ensuring at the same time equal opportunities for all its citizens.
The EPSCO Council approves European rules to harmonize or coordinate national legislation in issues such as working conditions (health and safety of workers, social security, and employee participation in the running of businesses) and reinforcement of national policies that promote health, prevent illness and combat major health scourges and protection of consumers’ rights. However, since policies on employment and social protection are still the specific responsibility of Member States, the contribution of the EU is confined to a definition of common objectives, the analysis of measures taken on a national level and the adoption of recommendations addressed to Member States.
The Office of the Attorney General is represented in the Permanent Representation in the legal section. Staffed by an attaché assigned by the Office of the Attorney General, the legal section provides legal advice to the Permanent Representative to the EU, his Deputy and other staff.
For more information visit the Office of the Attorney General website
The representatives of Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners in the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU work exclusively on Customs-related issues. Revenue attachés work within the Permanent Representation towards maximising Ireland’s contribution and influence on international tax and customs administrative issues.
International co-operation between tax and customs administrations is a necessary response to the worldwide mobility of wealth and economic activity. It is also a vital response to cross-frontier tax fraud and to the deepening international security concerns of recent years.
Revenue shares the responsibility for the external frontier of the EU with other Member States. It conducts joint operations with other administrations and shares its knowledge, expertise and experience. In doing so, Revenue is conscious of the need to ensure that it strikes the right balance between security and trade facilitation.
Within the Permanent Representation, Revenue focuses its contributions on the development of Customs policies at the EU and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) by:
- Fully participating in the formulation of EU policy and legislation both at Council and Commission level.
- Reflecting Government policy at the World Customs Organisation
- Developing close co-operation with international agencies in the fight against drug smuggling and other forms of transnational crime
- Assisting in the development of international security standards for Customs controls of maritime container traffic.
- Progressing recommendations of the EU and the WCO relating to supply chain security.
For more information visit the Revenue Commissioners website