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EU Matters.ie - Information about Ireland's membership of the EU


The EU has always been committed to Education. Ireland’s membership of the European Union has given Irish people unprecedented opportunities to study and train in other European countries –broadening their horizons, adding to their skills and knowledge and giving them an international focus which is crucial to Ireland’s continued economic success. 

We believe that the success of the Union, and all of its Member States will be driven by having the smartest, best-educated and most competitive people coming out of our schools and colleges. That goal has provided great gains for students in Ireland over the last thirty years. The most notable EU project had been Erasmus – giving European citizens access to global education.

Education is going to be a big driver of our future economic success. Our economy and the EU economy will rely on the further development of knowledge-driven industries, supported by a vibrant and well-funded research and innovation community.

The European Union recognises that education is not something you provide only to post-graduates in University. It is something that should be provided to every citizen, regardless of age, or where they live or how much money they have. Since joining the EEC in 1973, Ireland has received over €6 billion in funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) to improve all aspects of our education system.

The present ESF Human Capital Investment Programme for Ireland for example runs from 2007 to 2013 and over €375 million of ESF funding will be invested in the programme. (National matching funding will be €982 million, private matching funding €3 million, giving total of over €1.36 billion).

The programme targets a range of areas; skills training, higher education, basic education and skills for employment and measures to improve employment prospects for urban and rural areas. It will also have programmes for vocational training of early school leavers.

The Human Capital Investment Programme is part of a drive among EU members to work more closely together in education and training to contribute to the achievement of the EU’s Lisbon Strategy. That Strategy said that collaboration in education is vital if the EU is to become a world-leading knowledge-based economy.

There are major EU programmes which support that view.