Dáil Éireann - Volume 611 - 06 December, 2005
Written Answers. - EU Funding.
Mr. Eamon Ryan Mr. Eamon Ryan
133. Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the nature of the over-claim of Ireland’s European Social Fund; and the person who was responsible for the irregularities that led to the withdrawal of €15.6 million by the European Commission. [37922/05]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin: Arising from audits by the European Commission in 2000, the Commission took a decision in February 2003 to reduce ESF aid to Ireland by €15.614 million in respect of three operational programmes from the 1994 to 1999 period, namely, the human resources development operational programme, the tourism operational programme and the industrial development operational programme. The sum involved represents less than 1% of the amount allocated to these programmes for the period.
Arising from the audits, the Commission alleged that the National Training Development  Institute, NTDI, had not declared the total amount of national resources available for its operations and, as a consequence, the NTDI had overclaimed the contribution due from the ESF. The Commission also found that my Department, after applying the ECU conversion rate to expenditure declared in Irish pounds by various implementing bodies, carried out adjustments to the ECU amounts to maximise its ESF drawdown in respect of three programmes.
I should emphasise that the Commission accepts that all expenditure under the programmes in question was eligible and no allegation of fraud has been made. My Department has always believed that our approach in these matters was valid and that the expenditure was eligible for ESF co-financing. Our belief in the procedures was such that, supported by legal advice, we pursued this matter all the way to the European Court of Justice where, unfortunately, that court finally agreed with the Commission’s technical arguments.
Dáil Éireann 611 Written Answers. EU Funding.