Written Answers. - Educational Programme.

Simon Coveney

Question:

17 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department will have a role in the formulation and preparation of the EU GATS offer as it pertains to education. [21731/02]

As the Deputy will be aware, the development of the common commercial policy of the Union is a Community competence. In relation to the general agreement on trade in services the relevant EU forum for negotiations is the article 133 services committee. The EU uses this forum to consult with member states via their trade ministries.

In recent times, education Ministers have been increasingly involved in the debate on trade in education services. Indeed, the matter has recently been considered informally by the Education Council. The Irish position is that it is vital that education Ministers have a role in this matter.

It is also important that there should be links between education and trade ministries at national level and my officials are in regular contact with their counterparts in the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment.

The net effect of this combined effort at national and European level is that my Department is in a position to have an influence on the development of GATS negotiations.

The Deputy will be aware, however, that education is covered by the GATS since the Uruguay Round in 1994. In the current Doha round we are dealing with a situation where commitments have already been entered into and it is on this basis that we are negotiating in the current round.