PQ: EU Funding (Refugee and Integration)

Thu, July 4, 2013

224. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding European Refugee Fund, ERF, and European Integration Fund, EIF, funding. 

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): The European Refugee Fund and the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals operate on the basis of annual programmes submitted by Member States and approved by the Commission. The eligibility period for an annual programme extends for a year and a half after the end of the year in question. So, the eligibility period for the annual programmes up to and including 2011 has ended and it is not possible to allocate unspent monies under those programmes.

 Up to and including the 2010 Annual Programme (which is the latest for which final figures have been compiled), over €3.4 million, amounting to 40% of the national allocation, was unspent due to an insufficiency of suitable projects with the required level of matching funding.

 My Department intends to have a call for applications under the European Refugee and Integration Funds in the near future with the aim of making payments to successful projects before the end of the year. An issue which arises is how to accommodate the existing Funds with the Asylum and Migration Fund which will replace them. Specifically, the eligibility period for the Asylum and Migration Fund commences on 1 January 2014 and, for the reason outlined above, it will overlap with that of the existing Funds until 30 June 2015. My Department is in contact with the European Commission on this aspect.

 While the EU legislation on the Asylum and Migration Fund has yet to be adopted, preparations for the Fund are under way. My Department is due to undertake a policy or programming dialogue with the European Commission in October on the basis of which a national multiannual programme for expenditure from the Fund will be drawn up. This dialogue is with the Member State and there is no provision for civil society groups to be directly involved. However, the relevant draft Regulation contains an article on partnership with such groups and with other bodies in the preparation etc. of national programmes. The exact terms of this provision are still the subject of negotiation. However, it is my intention that appropriate consultation will take place with such bodies in the preparation of Ireland’s programme.