THE EUROPEAN UNION has approved an application for over €35m in financial aid for thousands of Irish people who have been laid off from the construction sector.
The European Parliament’s budgets committee yesterday approved the payment of €35.7m in aid from the EU’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund.
The Irish government had made three separate applications for the aid, looking for funding to help retrain staff who had lost their jobs in construction, architecture, engineering and electrical testing.
5,987 people from those sectors may now be trained in alternative work from the fund.
The junior minister responsible for EU affairs, Lucinda Creighton, welcomed the payment, saying it demonstrated “a positive aspect of EU membership – the support of our neighbours”.
As a small export-oriented economy, Ireland suffered from the credit crunch’s impact on its major trading partners… Banks were severely hit, with knock-on effects on mortgage loans and building activity in the country.
Any funding that will help those who have lost their jobs is very welcome.
The committee’s approval of the funding overcomes a major obstacle in releasing the funds – but the funding must be spent before next June or else it will be forfeited.
A European Commission spokesperson last month said the “clock is ticking” for the government to spend the funding, which will be matched by just over €19m being paid by the Irish government.
Payments under the fund must be made within two years of a formal application being made.
It comes following three applications from Irish authorities for funding for over 9,000 workers made redundant from small and medium-sized businesses as a direct result of the financial and economic crisis and the fall in the property sector.
The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland estimates that some 166,000 people have lost their jobs in construction and related industries since the onset of the economic downturn.
Having employed 271,000 people at its peak, the industry now accounts for just 105,000 workers.