Millions of EU aid for local redundant workers to be returned to the EU- Cllr Eoin Ó Broin
Sinn Féin Councillor Eoin Ó Broin has claimed that millions of euros earmarked for redundant workers from Lufthansa Technik plant in Rathcoole is set to be returned unspent to the European Commission. Up to €3m could be left unspent with 60% of that being returned to Brussels.
Cllr Ó Broin said:
‘The European Globalisation Fund (EGF) is a European Commission programme that provides training and employment supports to redundant workers. In 2014 the Irish Government applied for EGF funding for 424 workers made redundant following the closure of Lufthansa Technik in Rathcoole, Co Dublin in 2013.
‘In April 2015 the European Commission agreed a programme worth €4.14m for the 424 Lufthana Technik workers with supports to be provided to an additional 200 young people not in education training and employment.
‘The Commission contributes €2.49m to the fund, the remainder of which is to be funded by Government. Any EU funds not spend by September 2016 must be returned to the Commission.
‘To date participation in the programme has been much lower than expected. Though 77% of the former Lufthansa workers have engaged with the programme the actual number who have availed of financial and training supports is significantly lower. More worryingly the participation rate for the young people is less than 40% and again many of these have not availed of significant supports.
‘The Minister responsible for the EGF programmes, Damien English, has repeatedly refused to tell the Dáil how much of the €4.14m has been spent to date. However it is clear that the spend is significantly lower than previous programmes at this point.
‘There have been seven previous EGF programmes run by the current and previous governments. On average 40% of the EU funds were returned unspent at the end of the programmes. Of the €63m provided by the Commission to these previous seven programmes a total of €25m was returned unspent.
‘On the basis of the information we have on the Lufthansa Technik programme from the two EGF implementation reports it appears that this programme will struggle to have 50% of its funding spent by September 2016.
‘If significant progress is not made in increasing the participation of young people in the programme, the spend could be as low as 25%.
‘This would result in up to €3m being unspent and 60% of that being returned to the European Commission.
‘I am calling on the Minister to come clean on the spend to date on the Lufthansa technik EGF fund so that we know the scale of the potential loss of funding to the local community. There is also a need for the EGF to engage with as wide a range of local labour activation, community and youth providers to ensure that those who can avail of the EGF funding are given a real opportunity to do so. It is simply not acceptable that much needed funds for training and employment supports could be returned unspent to Brussels when so many local people’