Following elections in early 2011, the Houses of the Oireachtas re-established a Joint Committee on European Union Affairs in June 2011. In the last Parliament (2007-2011), scrutiny of EU legislative proposals was carried out by the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny. This committee has not been re-established, and in the current Parliament, scrutiny of draft EU legislative proposals is performed by the relevant sectoral committee.
Joint Committee on European Union Affairs
Legal base: The Committee’s Orders of Reference derived from the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann.
Composition: The Committee brings together Members of both Houses of the Oireachtas (9 Members of Dáil Éireann; 5 Members of Seanad Éireann).
The Joint Committee on European Union Affairs carries out oversight and monitoring of broad EU policies and programmes, including the objectives of EU policy development at the pre-legislative stage of the policy-making process.
Prior to meetings of the General Affairs Council, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade briefs the Committee on the items for discussion and decision on the agenda of the Council meetings and the Government’s approach in relation to these matters. This enables the Committee to make its views known in advance of the Minister’s participation in meetings of the Council.
Following its examination of the issues the Committee prepares reports, setting out its opinions and observations and including recommendations, to the Houses of the Oireachtas and to the European Commission.
For further information on the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs, click here.
Scrutiny of EU Legislative proposals
Detailed scrutiny of EU legislative proposals which are presented by the European Commission is performed by the appropriate sectoral committee ‘downstream’ in the policy-making process. The European Union (Scrutiny) Act 2002 provides the legislative framework for the work of the committees. Under the Act the relevant government department provides an Information Note to the Oireachtas on each proposal which sets out certain specific information including the policy implications of the proposal, its consequences for Irish legislation and the likely impact of implementation on Ireland.
The Act also enables the Houses of the Oireachtas and its committees to make recommendations to Ministers on EU proposals which Ministers are legally obliged to take into consideration. Such recommendations do not bind Ministers.
For further information on the sectoral committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas, click here.