What is the National Parliament Office?
The Oireachtas National Parliament Office (NPO) in Brussels is the office which represents both Houses of the Oireachtas at EU level. Established in 2004, it is staffed by one full-time official (the “Oireachtas representative”) from the Houses of the Oireachtas Service. The NPO is based in the European Parliament complex in Brussels. It is independent of the European Parliament and also of the Irish Government’s Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels.
The main role of the NPO is to support the EU-related work of the Houses of the Oireachtas and their Committees. The Oireachtas representative acts as the "eyes and ears" of the Houses in Brussels, working closely alongside the national parliament representatives of 25 other EU Member States, and building effective networks with fellow representatives and with relevant officials in the EU institutions. The NPO therefore is in a position to provide on an ongoing basis early warning of issues of particular interest or importance to the Houses of the Oireachtas and to supply targeted, summary information on European legislation and other matters which are of specific relevance to the Irish context.
The NPO is a key support mechanism for the enhanced role of the Houses of the Oireachtas under the Lisbon Treaty, as it enables regular, early, and informal information exchange on the results of other national parliaments’ scrutiny activities and particularly on the subsidiarity provisions of the Treaty.
What services does the National Parliament Office provide?
The principal customers of the NPO are –
- the Chairs of both Houses in the context of their attendance at Conferences of Speakers of EU Parliaments,
- the Joint Committee on European Affairs (JCEA) and the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny (JCES), including their participation in COSAC (the Conference of EU Affairs Committees of the national parliaments of the EU Member States), and
- Chairs and Members of other Oireachtas Committees.
This Week in the European Institutions
The NPO provides a range of services as follows:
- “Latest developments in the European Parliament and the EU” bulletin, which is prepared every 2-3 weeks and circulated to Members of the JCES and JCES, Committee Clerks, and the Chairs of both Houses;
- Briefing of the Secretary General and the Chairs of both Houses in the context of annual Conferences of Secretaries-General and Speakers of EU Parliaments;
- Reports for Oireachtas Committees on the European Commission’s Annual Policy Strategy and Annual Legislative Work Programme, analysing legislative initiatives by sectoral area;
- Attendance at meetings of the JCEA and JCES as required to brief them on relevant developments;
- Input on legislative proposals selected by the JCES for detailed scrutiny, to ensure that the JCES has up to date information on the progress of legislative proposals in the Council and the European Parliament, as well as on the views of other Member States;
- Facilitation of access to EU institutions by Oireachtas Committees and their members, including arranging direct access to relevant EU Commissioners, officials, European Parliament Committees, and rapporteurs, as well as Irish MEPs;
- Facilitation of inter-parliamentary meetings by liaising with EU presidency and parliamentary officials in Brussels;
- Feedback on issues emerging at weekly meetings of national parliament representatives;
- Planning and co-ordination for the parliamentary dimension of Ireland’s next presidency of the EU (January to June 2013);
- General query handling from Committees, the Secretary General and Chairs of both Houses;
- Promotion of the work of the Oireachtas on EU matters, by disseminating reports and other information to EU institutions and other national parliaments;
- Facilitation of study visits to Brussels by staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service.
Contact details for the NPO, Brussels
Ms Cáit Hayes
Permanent Representative of the Houses of the Oireachtas to the EU
B - 1047 Brussels, Belgium.
Tel: 0032 (0) 2 2842038
GSM: 0032 (0) 47499371
Fax: 0032 (0) 2 2832515