Irish ministers among best for attending Council of EU meetingsTuesday 07 May 2013 23.22
Irish ministers are among the best in Europe when it comes to attending meetings of the Council of the European Union.
An accountability report from the not-for-profit organisation European Movement Ireland shows Irish ministers attended 97% of the meetings, finishing in second position overall for attendance.
This is an increase of 11% on 2011 and a 20% increase on attendance in 2010 by the previous administration.
Only two of the 74 council meetings in 2012 had no minister in attendance, but Irish officials were present instead.
These were a meeting of ECOFIN on 4 December 2012, and a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 16 March 2012.
Council of Minister meetings involve ministers from all EU member states gathering together several times a year, grouped according to their portfolios, to discuss EU-wide issues.
However, while ministers have an almost perfect attendance record at the EU, the performance of Irish MEPs is in decline.
The average attendance of Irish MEPs at the European Parliament was 83% for 2012, a decline on 2011 (85%) and 2010 (86%) records.
Their performance at parliament is also declining, as the 12 Irish MEPs made just 365 speeches last year, which was down from 727 in 2011. They asked 455 questions, which was down from 683 in 2011.
Part of the declining statistical performance by the Irish delegation of 12 MEPs was attributed to the serious illness of one member.
However the report, launched today, also highlights that the attendance by politicians at Oireachtas level EU-related meetings was less than satisfactory.
Attendance at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs in 2012 was 64%, a decrease of 7% on the 2011 figure.
Best practice involves the relevant minister giving a briefing to the appropriate Oireachtas Committee before he or she attends a council meeting, however this only happened before 34% of meetings.
The European Movement Ireland organisation produces an Accountability Report each year, which it describes as an "Irish-EU scorecard", measuring 30 key indicators in six principle areas.