When it comes to the Department’s international responsibilities, our major commitment in this regard is EU affairs, which represents a core and important part of our work.

Individual divisions hold responsibility for EU matters of relevance to their respective areas. In the event that policy matters cross divisional or departmental boundaries, a high degree of consultation and co-ordination can be required. 

Our International Policy Division (IPD) plays a central role in this regard as well as supporting both the Minister and the Department in discharging our EU responsibilities. 

We also have staff in the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU in Brussels, and the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and you can learn more about the work of our division and these offices here. International Policy Division.

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 a list of measures where Ireland exercised an opt-in pursuant to the Protocol since the Lisbon Treaty came into force:


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 our International Policy Division

This Council is made up of a number of working groups which are serviced by staff from various divisions of 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. The Presidency is currently held by Luxembourg.

High Level Working Groups serviced by the Department of Justice

EU bodies / agencies which contribute to JHA policy

Useful Links