Thursday, 10 May 2018

Ceisteanna (94, 95, 96)

John Brady

Ceist:

94. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of EU funding made available to Ireland under the youth guarantee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20672/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

95. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount Ireland has drawn down from EU funding under the youth guarantee; if no such funds have been drawn down, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20673/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

96. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to draw down EU funding under the youth guarantee to assist in reducing the youth unemployment rate of 12%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20674/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 to 96, inclusive, together.

The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) is one of the main EU financial resources to support the implementation of the EU Youth Guarantee.  It is integrated into European Social Fund (ESF) programming as a dedicated priority axis within the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020 (PEIL).  The specific YEI allocation for Ireland of €68m is matched by equal amounts from our ESF allocation and from the Exchequer, giving an overall allocation of €204m.   

All ESF activities, including YEI activities, are fully funded up-front by the Exchequer with the EU (ESF/YEI) funding being claimed in arrears.  While no payment application has been made to date to the Commission under the PEIL, it is expected that the funding will be fully drawn down.

The ESF authorities must be designated in accordance with the EU regulations prior to making the first payment application.  This designation is based on the opinion of the Independent Audit Body (IAB) which must be satisfied across a range of criteria that systems are in place to allow the ESF authorities to perform their required functions.  These systems requirements include the provision of a computerised accounting and information system for EU funds to meet the 2014-2020 functionality requirements.  The final phase of the IT system went live at the end of March 2018.  The ESF authorities are engaging with the IAB and it is expected that designation will be completed in the coming weeks.  

Preparations are underway for the submission of a first payment application to the Commission in Q3 2018. The European Commission has advised that the potential decommitment at end 2018 is €127.7m, if not claimed in payment applications in the meantime.  The ESF authorities will ensure that sufficient payment applications are submitted to fully drawdown the EU funding allocations.

In accordance with the ESF Regulations, initial pre-financing of 3.5% and annual pre-financing for 2016 and 2017, of the EU support for the YEI priority axis, including the ESF matching financing, amounting to some €8.3m has been received to date. Separately, additional initial YEI pre-financing of €19.8m was also received in line with EU Regulation 799 of 2015 but was subsequently reimbursed as Ireland did not submit an interim payment application by May 2016 for at least 50% of the amount advanced.  The reimbursement of this amount has not resulted in any loss of EU monies to the Exchequer.