I propose to take Questions Nos. 346 and 348 together.
Following a call for proposals by Pobal on behalf of my Office for the years 2007 and 2008, projects entailing expenditure of €542,220 from the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals are being implemented. This is less than the amounts Ireland was entitled to receive which were, for 2007, €748,000 and, for 2008, €758,000. I am considering seeking further proposals in respect of the amounts unallocated for 2008. Because of concerns on the part of many Member States about their capacity to effectively exhaust the funds allocated to them, the European Commission proposes to extend the eligibility period for actions under the 2008 Programme from the end of this year to 30 June 2010.
I wish to ensure that Ireland's allocations are availed of as far as possible. I am aware that the availability of matching funding is an issue in this regard and I am considering if this might be addressed. One change I propose to make is that future calls for proposals will be directed at local authorities, other public bodies, NGOs and any other organisations that have the capacity to carry out the actions in question and not just at NGOs and partnership companies as was the case with the previous call for proposals. However, the rules applicable to the Fund as set out in the Council Decision establishing it and in subsequent Decisions of the European Commission must be observed.