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British-Irish Council

 

British-Irish Council

British-Irish Council
Logo of the British-Irish Council
Abbreviation BIC
Formation 2 December 1999 (1999-12-02) (14 years ago)
Type IGO
Legal status British-Irish Agreement
Headquarters Edinburgh, Scotland1
Coordinates

55°56′45″N 3°13′21″W / 55.94584°N 3.22262°W / 55.94584; -3.22262

Region served British Isles2
Membership



 Northern Ireland




Website
Remarks 1 This is the location of the Standing Secretariat of the British-Irish Council.
2 Owing to a dispute over name of the archipelago, the BIC uses a number of euphemisms to avoid this term in its documents.

The British–Irish Council (BIC) is an international organisation[1] established under the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Its membership comprises representatives from:

The Council formally came into being on 2 December 1999. Its stated aim is to "promote the harmonious and mutually beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the peoples of these islands". The BIC has a standing secretariat, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, and meets in semi-annual summit session and more frequent ministerial meetings.[2]

Membership and operation

Membership of the Council consists of the following administrations (with current heads of administrations as of June 2013):

Member Administration Representative(s) Title
Guernsey Deputy Peter Harwood Chief Minister
Isle of Man Allan Bell, MHK Chief Minister
Ireland Enda Kenny, TD Taoiseach
Jersey Senator Ian Gorst Chief Minister
Northern Ireland[3] Peter Robinson, MLA First Minister
Martin McGuinness, MLA deputy First Minister
Scotland Alex Salmond, MSP First Minister
United Kingdom David Cameron, MP Prime Minister
Wales style="background:"| Carwyn Jones, AM First Minister

The nine heads of government meet at twice yearly summits. Additionally, there are regular meetings that deal with specific sectors and are attended by the corresponding ministers. Representatives of members operate in accordance with whatever procedures for democratic authority and accountability are in force in their respective elected legislatures. Because England does not have a devolved government, it is not represented on the Council as a separate entity.[4]

The work of the Council is financed by members through mutual agreement as required.[5] At the ninth meeting of the Council, it was decided that with devolved government returned to Northern Ireland that an opportune time existed "to undertake a strategic review of the Council's work programmes, working methods and support arrangements." This decision included the potential for a permanent standing secretariat, which was established in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 4 January 2012.

At its June 2010 summit, the Council decided to move forward on recommendations to enhance the relationship between it and the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA). The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly is made up of members from the parliaments and assemblies of the same states and regions as the members of the British–Irish Council. The Council tasked its secretariat with moving this work forward in conjunction with the BIPA's secretariat.

Work areas

The Council agrees to specific work areas for which individual members take responsibility. The Belfast Agreement suggested transport links, agriculture, environmental issues, culture, health, education and approaches to the European Union as suitable topics for early discussion. However, these work areas can be expanded or reduced as the Council decides. It is also open to the Council to make agreement on common policies. These agreements are made through consensus, although individual members may opt not to participate in implementing any of these.

The current list of work areas and the member responsible are:

  • Collaborative spatial planning (Northern Ireland)
  • Demography (Scotland)
  • Digital inclusion (Isle of Man)
  • Early years policy (Wales)
  • Energy (United Kingdom - Elec Grids, and Scotland - Marine)
  • Environment (United Kingdom)
  • Housing (Northern Ireland)
  • Indigenous, minority and lesser-used languages (Wales)
  • Misuse of Substances (drugs and alcohol) (Ireland)
  • Social inclusion (Scotland and Wales)
  • Transport (Northern Ireland)
  • Creative Industries (Jersey)

Demography was adopted as a work area at the 2006 meeting of the Council. It was proposed by the Scottish Executive, who also took responsibility for it. During the 2007 meeting of the Council the Scottish Government further proposed that energy become a work area of the Council. Past work sector areas included knowledge economy, e-health / telemedicine and tourism.

Name of the Council

Initial suggestions for the council included the names Council of the British Isles or Council of the Isles, and the council is sometimes known by these names. However, owing to sensibilities around the term British Isles, particularly in Ireland, the name British-Irish Council was agreed.

The official name of the Council is represented in minority and lesser-used languages of the council as:

See also

External links

  • Twitter

References

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