Irish Regions Office Brussels
European affairs has a larger than appreciated impact at sub-national level, with much EU legislation ultimately implemented by councils and with access to available EU funding assuming a greater priority. Consequently, Local Authorities need to maintain strong working linkages with the European Institutions. As one of over 250 offices representing specific regions and cities at the very heart of Europe, and the only one working on behalf of Irish interests in this field, the Irish Regions Brussels Office (IRO) responds to these needs by providing an inside track on EU developments.
Originally established in 2000 as a resource to assist the work of the Irish members of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), and their Regional Authorities, in providing grassroots input into the EU policy-making process, its activities have been expanded over time to cater more broadly to the requirements of all Local Authorities also. It performs wide-ranging oversight, liaison and advisory roles in relation to EU affairs in order to inform its stakeholders’ understanding of, and to facilitate their active engagement in, European initiatives.
This is achieved through such support services as policy analysis and briefings; identification of and assistance with networking and funding opportunities; representation of interests, including promotional assistance and advocacy activities; and general communication including a widely-circulated monthly electronic newsletter.
The IRO is supported by the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government as well as the Regional Authorities and Assemblies
In July 2012, Micheal O hEanaigh (Director of Services) and Seamus Neely (County Manager), along with staff from the EU policy and funding unit of Donegal County Council travelled on a study trip to Brussels. This trip was hosted by the Irish Regions Office and Mr. Pat the Cope Gallagher, MEP. The trip provided an opportunity to learn of ongoing discussions and progress regarding the new EU funding programming period 2014-2020. Officials from across the various EU DGs provided advice across many areas (including regional policy, transportation, energy, rural development, education etc.) This initiative is developing international networks of benefit to the county.