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Government delays could mean unemployed miss out on €35million EU aid

The “clock is ticking” for Ireland to win support from a European fund, an EU official has said.

File photo
File photo
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THERE ARE FEARS that thousands of unemployed construction workers could miss out on €35million in EU aid because of delays to the government’s funding application.

Earlier this month, the EC approved an Irish application for money from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGAF) to help 5,987 construction workers get back into employment.

However, it still needs to pass through the European Parliament for final approval – and the money must be spent by June 2012. The original application was made in June 2010, and EGAF rules mean that funds must be paid out within two years. “The clock is ticking for eligibility for the actual spending to take place,” spokesperson for the EU employment commissioner Cristina Arigho said this morning.

She said that the application had only been completed by the Irish government in June this year, hence the delay in its approval.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Arigho added that the funds could only be paid if the Irish government had already begun supporting and retraining the workers in question. The total €55million fund is co-financed, with 35 per cent of the money coming from the Government and the remaining €35million from the EU.

“Spending by governments is expected to begin immediately, with the funding to follow on from the Globalisation Fund,” Arigho said. “Did the Irish authorities actually start supporting some of the workers? That’s what we will have to check.”

Read more: Unemployed construction workers to get €35m in EU aid>

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Michael Freeman

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