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ga - ESF in Ireland 2007-2013

ESF In Ireland 2007 - 2013

Since Ireland's accession the EU in 1973, it is estimated that the ESF has invested over €6 billion in education, training and employment creation in Ireland. The Human Capital Investment Operational Programme (HCI OP) was the only ESF programme for Ireland for the period 2007 to 2013 and the funding for the Programme for the period was €751m in total, with €375m of it ESF. Though the Programme period has expired, expenditure in respect of Programme activities is still eligible until end-2015. The focus of the operational programme was on labour market activation of the unemployed and on education and equality programmes.

Response to the Crisis

When the economic crisis hit fully in 2009, the ESF, sought approval from the European Commission to revise the focus of investment of the Operational Programme to shift from those at work and disability training to the unemployed and to lower skilled young people facing barriers to inclusion in the labour market. Proposals were agreed by the European Commission in October, 2009. It offered some new innovative training and education measures such as Labour Market Action Fund and recently Momentum which offered the unemployed access to contracted private training providers with targeted training courses to meet the current training and education needs of the unemployed and the labour market.

Also in 2009, the operational Programme was reduced from the overall forecast size of €1.35bn to a spend of €900m; the EU contribution to the ESF remained at €375m. The co-financing rate was increased from a total Operational Programme co-financing rate of 27.6% to 41.4% it was then agreed to increase the rate to the current rate of 50% and frontload the drawdown to the greatest extent possible.

Policy Document 2007-2013

The main policy documents which have provided the shape of ESF for Ireland 2007-2013 are:

Ireland's €184 billion National Development Plan for the period 2007-2013 built on the significant social and economic achievements of the NDP/CSF (2006-2006). Entitled, Transforming Ireland-A Better Quality of Life for All, this seven year plan consolidated, the achievements of the previous Plan, and provided €54.6 billon for investment in economic, infrastructure, €49.6 billion for social inclusion measures (children, people with disabilities, etc) €33.6 billion for social infrastructure (housing, health, justice, etc); €25.8 billion for human capital (school, training, higher education, etc); and €20 billion for enterprise, science and innovation.

EU Structural funds played a complementary role in relation to the NDP 2007-2013 and the ESF particularly  focused on supporting niche interventions specifically relating to the upskillilng of workers, support for increased participation by marginalised groups in the workforce and activities to support equality and prevent discrimination in the workforce.

The ESF Regulation sets out the scope and eligible activities for ESF support. In the case of the period 2007-2013, the Regulation was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on 5th July 2006.

The General Structural Funds Regulation.

This Regulation set out the general provisions on the ESF;ERDF and Cohesion Fund. The regulation was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on 11th July 2006.

The National Strategic Reference Framework (NSFR)

This document set out Ireland's national strategy for investments through the ESF and the ERDF for the period 2007-2013. The purpose of the NSRF is to provide broad policy guidance in relation to investment of EU funding to Ireland.

Contact Us

ESF Policy and Operations Unit
Department of Education and Skills
Block 1, Floor 3
Marlborough Street
Dublin 1
D01 RC96 
+353 (0)1 889 2003


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