Ireland is a parliamentary republic consisting of 26 counties. The head of government - the prime minister - is appointed by the president after nomination by the Lower House (Dail) and exercises executive power. The head of state - the president - mostly has ceremonial powers. The Parliament has 2 chambers (an Upper and Lower House).
The most important sectors of Ireland’s economy in 2016 were industry (38.9 %), wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food service activities (12.9 %) and public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (12.3%).
Intra-EU trade accounts for 51% of Ireland’s exports (United Kingdom 13%, Belgium 13% and Germany 7%), while 26% go to the United States and 5% to Switzerland.
In terms of imports, 68% come from EU countries (United Kingdom 29%, France 13% and Germany 10%), while outside the EU 15% go to the United States and 4% to China.
In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Irish government, depending on the policy area being addressed.
The Council of the EU doesn't have a permanent, single-person president (like e.g. the Commission or Parliament). Instead, its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months.
During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions.
Dates of Irish presidencies:
Jan-Jun 1975 | Jul-Dec 1979 | Jul-Dec 1984 | Jan-Jun 1990 | Jul-Dec 1996 | Jan-Jun 2004 | Jan-Jun 2013
The following link is a redirection to an external websiteCurrent presidency of the Council of the EU
The Commission is represented in each EU country by a local office, called a "representation".
Ireland has 9 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee. This advisory body – representing employers, workers and other interest groups – is consulted on proposed laws, to get a better idea of the possible changes to work and social situations in member countries.
Ireland has 9 representatives on the European Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. This advisory body is consulted on proposed laws, to ensure these laws take account of the perspective from each region of the EU.
Ireland also communicates with the EU institutions through its permanent representation in Brussels. As Ireland's "embassy to the EU", its main task is to ensure that the country's interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Member countries' financial contributions to the EU budget are shared fairly, according to means. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa. The EU budget doesn't aim to redistribute wealth, but rather to focus on the needs of all Europeans as a whole.
Breakdown of Ireland's finances with the EU in 2017:
More figures on the EU budget, revenue and spending:
The money paid into the EU budget by Ireland helps fund programmes and projects in all EU countries - like building roads, subsidising researchers and protecting the environment.
Find out more about how Ireland benefits from EU funding.