Tuesday, 6 November 2018
Department of Education and Skills
324. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the EU Erasmus+ education and training programme is now being used for training in complex weapon systems and ballistics (details supplied); and if he will request the Higher Education Authority and all higher education institutes here to withdraw from all activities relating to this programme in view of the fact that Ireland is a neutral state. [45213/18]
Erasmus+ is the EU’s flagship programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport for 2014-2020. It aims to make a contribution to meeting the key challenges facing Europe to boost growth and jobs and to foster social equity and inclusion. Erasmus+ will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad. The Programme aims to boost skills and employability, while supporting the modernisation of education, training and youth systems. The programme is of huge significance to Ireland, with an allocation of €169m over the seven year duration. The funding for 2017 was in excess of €19m with significant increases expected annually to 2020.
The section of the Erasmus+ 2019 programme guide referred to, relates to the sector skills alliances supporting the design and delivery of joint vocational training curricula, programmes and teaching and training methodologies, drawing on evidence of trends in a specific economic sector and skills needed in order to perform in one or more professional fields. These actions under Erasmus+ are managed on a centralised basis by the Erasmus Executive Agency in Brussels.
The HEA and Léargas, as National Agencies for Erasmus+, are responsible for administering de-centralised funding, and therefore have no role in allocating funding under the section of the programme guide that the Deputy refers to.
The EU provides funding for education, training and skills development of its citizens, many areas of which are transversal in nature that may be applied to many areas of employment and enterprise. It is for each Member State to identify its own priorities in its education and training policies, and to apply EU funding accordingly. The funding of such education, training and upskilling seeks to improve the employability and competitiveness of EU citizens and does not imply any support for particular downstream uses of those skills or qualifications in the labour market.
With regard to the Deputy's reference to the fact that Ireland is a neutral state, the Irish Government is fully committed to Ireland’s longstanding policy of military neutrality, which is characterised by non-participation in military alliances.