Many EU policies help to improve to the everyday lives of citizens, for example in the areas of the Single Market, freedom of movement, consumer protection, employee health and safety, recycling and food safety. Other measures have broader implications, such as the EU’s efforts to combat climate change.
In terms of practical and financial support for these policies, an overall financial framework of €864 billion has been agreed for the period 2007-2013. These funds will be committed to a series of EU programmes, policies and actions covering agriculture, rural development, cohesion, competitiveness, research, education, culture, justice and the Union’s external activities.
Ireland is represented at Ministerial level in the Council of Ministers, where Ministers from all the EU Member States discuss and negotiate EU policies and legislation in their area of responsibility. The European Parliament, where Ireland has twelve MEPs, also legislates jointly with the Council of Ministers across a wide range of policy areas.
The European Union Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with the Department of the Taoiseach and the Irish Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels, coordinates Irish EU policy. Individual Government Departments lead on the specific issues relevant to them.