Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (178)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

178. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the Minister that participated in the strategic dialogue with the European Commission regarding the school transport scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26249/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

The European Commission commenced an investigation on State Aid to Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus in 2007. The Commission's Decision was issued on 16th October 2014 and published on 21st November. It found the School Transport Scheme was existing aid since it is based on a 1975 arrangement and for this reason was not unlawful at the time the complaint was made.

The Commission indicated that it would initiate an informal dialogue with Ireland to agree on appropriate measures to ensure that the School Transport Scheme is compatible with the internal market State Aid rules into the future. Ireland is currently engaged in an informal dialogue with the Commission in this regard.