The Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels
The Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels (ONIEB), established in 2001, is the focal point for liaison between the Northern Ireland Executive and the Institutions of the European Union in promoting the Administration’s interests in areas of policy, legislation and funding. The office is part of the wider family of the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union which also includes the Scottish Government Office and the Welsh Assembly Government Office.
The ONIEB is one of two business units which constitute the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) European Division, with a fundamental vision to promote and deepen Northern Ireland’s engagement with the European Union. The Belfast based European Policy and Co-ordination Unit (EPCU) provides co-ordination on European policy issues and on the implementation of European Directives across the Northern Ireland Civil Service. EPCU also supports OFMDFM participation in the quarterly Joint Ministerial Committee (Europe) (JMC (E)).
In addition, Invest NI, Northern Ireland's regional business development agency, has two consultants based in the ONIEB.
- To assist the Northern Ireland Executive to further the aims of its Programme for Government through supporting Northern Ireland’s engagement with the EU.
- To assist Northern Ireland Departments to contribute to EU policy development and implementation in relation to their core business areas and increase Departmental engagement with elective European funding programmes.
- To raise the positive profile of Northern Ireland in the EU.
The ONIEB acheives its aims through providing:
Under direction from Departments the ONIEB monitors the work of the European Commission, Council and Parliament, and attends various working groups and plenary sessions on selected policy issues. This allows the sharing of information gained in Brussels on legislative proposals affecting Northern Ireland, and the provision of advice on policy developments and strategy with the European Institutions. This supplements the work of policy leads in the relevant Departments by adding local insight and allowing critical dates and timescales in the legislative process to be flagged up.
A Business Environment
The ONIEB provides a modern working environment for Ministers, Departments and Northern Ireland organisations conducting business in Brussels, allowing NI representatives to engage meaningfully and effectively with the European Institutions.
A Platform to Promote Excellence
Departments and other Northern Ireland organisations use the office to showcase their successes in Northern Ireland and thus contribute to European “best practice”. The ONIEB, in conjunction with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, has brought musicians, poets, authors, actors and artists to show off their work to a Brussels audience. Displaying our culture and creativity enhances the image of Northern Ireland.
Education and Capacity Building
The Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels provides a modern educational facility to be used in the EU education and capacity building of Northern Ireland Departments and for student groups.
As well as its important formal and informal relationships with those working in the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament, the ONIEB maintains and develops strong working relationships with a number of institutions and bodies including:
- The UK Permanent Representation to the EU
- The other Devolved Administrations’ Representations to the EU
- The Irish Permanent Representation to the EU
- The Committee of the Regions
- The Economic and Social Committee of the European Union
- Other regional offices
- Lobbying and interest groups