European Affairs Division
We are responsible for co-ordinating and monitoring the Department's European business, particularly cross cutting issues, which may involve a number of Functions and other government departments.
While the office is based in Dublin, we work closely with our staff in Brussels and Strasbourg.
The Division supports both the Minister and the Department in discharging our EU and Council of Europe responsibilities, and in communicating and representing Ireland's interests at various meetings and events.
Role in the Department
We also monitor progress on key legislative and policy proposals arising in the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) area. We keep abreast of key developments, engaging with other Functions on any issues that may need our attention, ensuring that any requiring our input are identified and are addressed at an early stage.
We coordinate and provide accurate and comprehensive briefing material to Ministers to ensure that the Department’s policy positions are maintained and promoted, and that our contribution at meetings is optimised.
We agree policy lines with other Functions as required. We determine overall policy stances on cross-cutting issues, ensuring that these are conveyed in a clear and appropriate fashion at the relevant meetings and events.
Central to our Division’s attendance at Ministerial meetings is the provision of assistance and advice to the Minister, ensuring she is fully briefed so as to be able to make a full contribution.
The European Affairs Division is also responsible for monitoring the application of Ireland’s treaty rights under Protocol 19, 20 & 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (the Lisbon Treaty). Ireland has an option, provided for in Article 3.1 of Protocol 21 annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon, to opt-in to individual proposals in the area of freedom, security and justice. The Protocol provides that Ireland has three months, from the date a proposal or initiative is presented to the Council, to notify the Presidency of the Council in writing of its wish to take part in the negotiation, adoption and application of any such measure. The exercise of this opt-in is subject to the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Ireland may also, at any stage after a measure has been adopted, indicate its wish to participate, though the Commission has to give its approval.
Below you will find the list of measures where Ireland exercised an opt-in pursuant to the Protocol since the Lisbon Treaty came into force and the list of measures that automatically apply to Ireland by virtue of Council Decision 2002/192/EC :
51 Saint Stephens Green
European Affairs Division’s main office in Dublin is responsible for servicing and co-ordinating briefing material for meetings of the Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Council (JHA Council), and briefs other EU Ambassadors based in Ireland on Irish policy positions in advance. Here's a Guide to How the European Union works.
The office also represents Ireland at various working parties of the Council of the European Union including: the Article 36 Committee (CATS), which is a coordinating Committee in the area of Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal matters. European Affairs also services the Council of Europe’s European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), and other working parties dealing with cross-cutting JHA matters as required.
It is also the responsibility of European Affairs to assist in facilitating greater governmental and Oireachtas engagement on JHA matters in line with the provisions of the Programme for Government.
The Houses of the Oireachtas have a central role in examining EU affairs. We ensure we fulfil the necessary obligations, and that the Minister is fully briefed and supported in her EU-related Oireachtas business, including her appearances before the Joint Committee on Justice to discuss relevant matters
The Department of the Taoiseach also has a central role in fostering EU engagement, and our staff attend Ministerial and interdepartmental co-ordination meetings on EU matters, always ensuring the Department’s interests are represented. These include the Cabinet Committee on European Affairs (CCEUA), the Senior Officials Group (SOG) and the Interdepartmental Committee on EU Engagement (ICEE).
European Affairs Division works closely with the Departmental staff seconded to Ireland’s Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels, an office which comes under the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Permanent Representation to the EU
The Permanent Representation brings together under one roof civil servants from nearly every Irish government department, making it Ireland's biggest diplomatic mission abroad. Its role is to represent Ireland's interests in the European Union, and to support the Permanent Representative (Ambassador) to the EU, in particular at Coreper (the Committee of Permanent Representatives).
The Permanent Representation offers assistance to Ministers and other delegates during their visits to Brussels, and is responsible for advancing Irish policy objectives and the Department’s mission in EU matters under the direction of the Department of Justice in Dublin.
Staff of the Permanent Representation participate in the various Council working groups dealing with Justice and Home Affairs issues and ensure good communication between the Department in Dublin and contacts in the EU institutions and other Member States.
Justice and Home Affairs Council
The bulk of the Department’s involvement in the EU area takes place within the Council of the European Union. The Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA Council) is the highest level meeting appropriate to this Department, and is attended by the Minister and co-ordinated by European Affairs.
This Council is made up of a number of working groups which are serviced by staff from various Functions in this Department. These groups are dedicated to progressing the agenda in the areas falling within the remit of the Council and can also involve staff from other government departments depending on the issue. Items discussed by the working groups are chosen to feature on the agenda of the JHA Council for Ministerial discussion or agreement.
The country hosting the Presidency of the Council of the European Union is responsible for chairing the JHA Council and working groups.
High Level Working Groups serviced by the Department of Justice
- Standing Committee on Internal Security (COSI)
- Coordinating Committee on the area of Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters (CATS)
- Strategic Committee on Immigration Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA)
EU bodies / agencies which contribute to JHA policy
- CEPOL, the European Police College
- European Union’s Judical Cooperation Unit (Eurojust)
- European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
- European Asylum Support Office (EASO)
- European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
Strasbourg office – Council of Europe
Also linked to European Affairs Division is the Department’s Justice Attaché who works in the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, an office which comes under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The role of the Justice Attaché is to provide effective representation of Ireland's policy interests at the Council of Europe and its various committees. This broadly entails ensuring that Irish policy objectives are articulated and pursued in the relevant committees and that Council of Europe texts reflect, as much as possible, Ireland's key national priorities.
The role requires effective liaison with the Department of Justice and other government departments on justice related issues (including equality and integration) in order to ensure that Ireland's interests in these areas are properly represented and secured.
Council of Europe international conventions and monitoring bodies
The most prominent features of the Council of Europe are its international Conventions (e.g. European Convention on Human Rights) and its monitoring bodies:
Group of States against corruption (GRECO)
Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA)
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) and
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
The Department is involved in various working groups of the Council of Europe including:
- European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC)
- Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PC-OC)
- European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ)
- Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO)
- Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA)
- Council for Penological Co-operation (PC-CP)