Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Department of Education and Skills
Question 167: To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will allocate some funding from the national allocation of European Globalisation Fund funding to enable former SR Technic workers to complete educational courses they have undertaken in order to update their skills to help them find alternative employment; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the EGF funding provided for this purpose is due to expire in October 2011 which is 12 months earlier than the workers anticipated; is it the case that the initial application for funding was made by the former Government in October 2009 and the application was only signed off in October 2010 which meant that the period for funding commenced from the actual date of the application and not the date of approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17512/11]
The Irish authorities submitted the application for EGF co-financing support for redundant workers at the S R Technics aircraft maintenance facility at Dublin Airport on 9 October 2009. The European Commission approved the EGF application in September 2010 while the formal decision from the EGF Budgetary authority approving the application was made on 8 December 2010. That decision provides for a maximum 65% EGF co-financed contribution of €7.4m to be used for EGF programme measures from 25 March 2009, the date when programme supports commenced nationally, up to 9 October 2011, the EGF programme end date.
The significant lapse of time between EGF application submission by the EU Member State and EU approval is a feature of the EGF and one which Ireland has raised with the European Commission. Notwithstanding the fact that EU approval is received several months after an EGF application submission, the cost of eligible measures provided immediately after, or even prior to, the redundancy of an EGF eligible person, may be claimed from the EGF if included in the relevant application from the EU member state.
As I have previously stated in the House on a number of occasions in recent weeks on this issue, the end date of EGF co-financing of relevant supports for the SR Technics redundant workers must cease on 9 October 2011 in accordance with the European Commission decision. This end-date has always been made clear to both the providers of supports to the redundant workers including in written correspondence and to the redundant workers wishing to avail of those supports including at public meetings and at meetings with worker representatives. In this context, it was always made clear to the former S R Technics workers and their representatives both at public meetings and at meetings held at their request with officials of my Department, that the full duration of third level education courses would not be funded through the EGF programme and that funding would end before accreditation is achieved.
Under the EGF Regulation governing the Fund, EU co-financing for a maximum amount of 65% of the total cost of an EGF programme of measures is available for a maximum of 24 months from the date of submission of an application by a Member State. The nationally funded EGF allocation is used for the sole purpose of providing the remaining minimum 35% national co-financed contribution for eligible measures forming part of the overall EGF programme for the duration of the programme only. No additional national funding is available to fund continued study on EGF-related education courses after 9 October 2011 outside the normal funding available to all students.