Tuesday, 29 November 2016
Department of Education and Skills
209. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department has put in place a plan to address the issues facing the education sector by the proposed exit of Britain from the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37323/16]
The Government has a contingency framework in place which maps the key issues that will be most important to Ireland in the coming weeks and months. The Government has published the key actions that will be taken to address the contingencies arising from the UK's decision to leave the EU.
My Department participated fully in and contributed to the preparation of this framework for the education sector. Contingency planning and stakeholder consultations are being led and managed by the EU/International unit of the Department. This Unit reports regularly to the Management Board, the Secretary General and myself on Brexit planning. Their role included participation in cross-Departmental planning and co-ordination Groups.
Following the British Prime Minister’s announcement of the intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by March 2017 the Government on 4th October 2016 detailed further actions to ensure continuing effective management of, and engagement on, Brexit issues. Six working groups were established to deepen the analysis already undertaken by Departments of the sectoral implications of Brexit. Their purpose is to advise Government on the sectoral and thematic contexts and priority recommended Government actions both in terms of negotiation process and policy measures.
Among these, the Economy and Trade Workgroup has five sub-groups concerned with specific sectoral issues including education. Chaired by my Department and representative of a number of agencies and other Departments, the Education subgroup met on 28 October 2016 to consider key issues and priorities for the Irish education sector in the context of the future discussions and negotiations should the UK Government proceed as announced to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in early 2017. Further meetings of the Education Subgroup will be held in the coming weeks and will reflect on the outcomes of the stakeholder engagement process that is under way.
In seeking to respond to these issues dialogue and consultation with stakeholders and interested parties form an integral part of our Brexit planning. In that regard I opened a Brexit information event for the education sector on 14 November 2016 in Dublin. At this event I set out the latest Government position and actions to prepare for Brexit, and outlined the format of further consultations to take place to confirm our priorities in preparation for the negotiation phase in 2017.
To that end I have asked my Department to convene consultative fora for the schools sector, the further education and training sector and the higher education sector in December 2016 and January 2017. My intention is that these events will facilitate the widest possible involvement of stakeholders across our education system and help us achieve a fuller understanding of their issues and concerns as we continue to plan for the UK's exit from the EU.