Our engagement with the EU
Our membership of the European Union has helped to transform Ireland. We are committed to keeping our country at the heart of Europe by developing and strengthening our relationship with other EU member states and with the Institutions of the EU.
- How we work
Our relationship with the EU
As a small country, we understand that an effective European Union is essential for us to achieve our goals, both at home and on the international stage.
So we are committed to enhancing our standing as a constructive partner in Europe. We do this by working through the EU to make an impact in international affairs that affect Ireland and by engaging on the full range of policy priorities in the Union to ensure that Ireland’s interests are being taken into consideration.
Benefits of the EU
- As an Irish citizen, you can move freely between EU countries either for work or pleasure
- If you’re a small business owner, you can access 500 million consumers in the Single Market
- As an Irish graduate, your qualifications can be fully recognised in 28 other countries
- You can play your part in developing EU policies through the European Citizen’s Initiative, by calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal
- Our membership of the EU gives us a stronger voice on the world stage
- EU policies across many areas, such as the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), Structural and Cohesion Funds and the Single Market, help to improve the lives of people in Ireland and all across Europe
- The EU is the largest donor of development aid in the world
- It has been a leading advocate for greater action on climate change
How we work
Our Ministers, government officials and elected representatives at the European Parliament and the Oireachtas are involved in representing Ireland and our interests in the EU.
They work primarily through the EU’s Institutions to raise Ireland’s concerns with our partners and to influence EU policy.
Council of the European Union
Irish Government ministers regularly meet with their counterparts in the Council of the European Union (the Council of Ministers) to discuss policy developments in the Union and to help shape a response.
The Taoiseach meets with Heads of Government from the other 27 member states in the European Council to guide the EU’s upcoming work.
The Department of the Taoiseach is responsible for managing Ireland’s relationship with the EU. They work with us in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, our network of Embassies and our Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels.
The Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, is responsible for dealing with EU issues and supports both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in their work.
Permanent Representation to the EU
Our Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels represents Ireland’s interests in the EU on a day-to-day basis. It brings together civil servants from nearly every Irish government department, making it Ireland’s biggest diplomatic mission abroad.
There are 12 MEPs representing Ireland at the European Parliament. They are responsible for ensuring that the Irish people’s concerns are taken into account when formulating EU policy. The European Parliament plays a bigger role in EU affairs since the Lisbon Treaty.
The European Affairs Committee of the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament) plays a key role in informing debate on the European Union in Ireland by:
- Considering important EU developments and initiatives that affect Ireland
- Ensuring that EU legislation and proposals are properly studied
- Holding the Government to account in Ireland’s relations with Europe
The Committee also regularly engages with EU institutions to monitor and influence the political and strategic direction of the Union as a whole.
European Citizens’ Initiative
The European Citizens' Initiative allows Irish people to join with one million EU citizens to take part directly in developing EU policies.