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Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (341)

Neale Richmond

Question:

341. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of his Department’s strategy to increase the number of persons working in European Union institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61179/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government’s strategy to increase Irish representation in European Union Institutions and Agencies, A Career for EU, was launched in May of this year. This strategy contains a number of measures to ensure that more Irish people secure roles in the EU’s Institutions over the coming years. Many Irish officials have shaped policies and decisions that have had a positive impact on our lives in Ireland and on the lives of all EU citizens. With a number of Irish officials set to retire over the coming years, this new strategy seeks to safeguard the presence of Irish voices in the Union for years to come.

The strategy contains a number of commitments that will promote career opportunities in the EU and equip Irish people with the skills they need to succeed in obtaining positions in the EU institutions. In particular, the Government commits to expand the existing EU Jobs campaign, provide tailored support and training to Irish candidates, provide additional resources dedicated to supporting the use of Irish as an EU language, increase the funding of the Centrally Funded Scheme for Seconded National Experts, expand the current scholarship programme in the College of Europe and create a stream within the Irish civil service for EU specialists.

Implementation of this new strategy began over the summer with a number of meetings with other Government Departments and stakeholders. Following discussions with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, it was agreed that the number of annual scholarships for Irish students to the College of Europe would be increased from three to six for the academic year 2022-23. I would hope that this will increase to 10 scholarships thereafter.

Actions linked to the strategy have been expanded, including outreach to third level institutions and regular webinars on forthcoming job opportunities in EU Institutions which have been hosted by Ireland’s Permanent Representation to the EU. Training and supports for Irish candidates applying for permanent positions in the EU are also available from the Department’s EU Jobs website. These supports are now available in Irish and further resources are currently being translated into Irish. Funding for the Centrally Funded Scheme for Seconded National Experts, which provides for the secondment of Irish civil servants to the EU Institutions, has been increased from €2 million to €3 million. From 24 Seconded National Experts under the scheme last May, the CFS now supports 35 and is building towards 50. This scheme is vitally important for building and expanding our EU expertise across the civil service and in areas of strategic priority for Ireland in the EU.

Preliminary work on the establishment of an EU specialist stream within the Irish civil service is also underway. Such a stream will develop expertise of European policy within the civil service, as well as providing a supply of Irish candidates qualified to sit the EU graduate level concours competitions. The Department, through the Permanent Representation in Brussels, is also campaigning for reform of the EU recruitment process in order to address geographical imbalances across Member States. We are following closely developments on the European Commission’s new HR Strategy and are working alongside like-minded Member States to make the case for reforms, including nationality-based competitions.

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