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Home Background

Formal Purpose

To promote the harmonious and mutually beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the peoples of these islands… the BIC will exchange information, discuss, consult and use best endeavours to reach agreement on co-operation on matters of mutual interest within the competence of the relevant administrations”.

From Strand 3 of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement


The British-Irish Council Member Administrations are:  Government of Ireland, UK Government, Northern Ireland Executive, Scottish Government, Welsh Government, Isle of Man Government, Government of Guernsey and Government of Jersey.

The Council is an inter-governmental forum in which these eight Member Administrations participate to promote positive and practical relations across these islands.


On Friday 10 April 1998, after two years of intensive negotiations, the British and Irish governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland approved a comprehensive political agreement – the Agreement reached in the Multi-Party Negotiations.

This political agreement is more commonly known as the Belfast Agreement or the Good Friday Agreement.

The British-Irish Council was created as an institution under the Strand 3 of the Agreement. The Council was formally established when the British-Irish Agreement (which gave effect to the provisions of the Multi-Party agreement) signed by the two governments came into force on 2 December 1999.


The British-Irish Council was established to:

  • further promote positive, practical relationships among the people of these islands;
  • to provide a forum for consultation and co-operation.

In the political domain, Council meets at summit level with Heads of Administration, and at Ministerial level.


The British-Irish Council operates by consensus, and aims to provide a forum where members can consult, co-operate, and exchange views with a view to agreeing common policies or common actions in areas of mutual interest for the benefit of all.


The Council currently meets biannually at Heads of Administrations (Summits) or their representatives’ level and at individual sector level both at officials (usually three times a year) and at Ministerial level (usually every two years, subject to agreement).