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ESF Policy and Operations Unit

ESF Policy & Operations Unit


The role of the Unit is to oversee all matters relating to the ESF in Ireland and to represent Ireland's position at European level in relation to the ESF. Specifically, it is responsible for programme development, the ongoing monitoring and implementation of programmes and the sound and efficient financial management of all ESF activity in Ireland.

This work is directed at supporting the Partnership Agreement which sets out how the  European Structural and Investment Funds are utilised Ireland. The Partnership Agreement also outlines Ireland’s development needs and defines national priorities to support its National Reform Programme (NRP) and the achievement of national targets for delivering the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The Department of Education & Skills is the designated Managing and Certifying Authority for the European Social Fund in Ireland for both the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020 and the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme (HCI-OP) 2007-2013.

Further Information

Role of the Managing Authority

The Managing Authority is responsible for the efficient management and implementation of Operational Programmes, which includes the HCI OP 2007-2013 and the PEIL 2014-2020.

The functions of the Managing Authority with regard to the management and monitoring of the PEIL 2014-2020, as defined in Article 125 of Common Provisions Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013, are:

  • Ensuring proper financial management of the ESF within the programme;
  • Certifying and/or validating ESF Expenditure Certification reports and submitting them to the ESF Certifying Authority for payment. All claims must be routed through and signed-off by the Managing Authority before transmission to the Certifying Authority;
  • Satisfying itself that the required verification checks are being undertaken. The Managing Authority is responsible for ensuring that any questions raised during the checking of claims or during audits are also fully investigated and answered/addressed appropriately;
  • Providing the secretariat for the Programme Monitoring Committee of the Operational Programme, and assisting the Monitoring Committee in carrying out its functions;
  • Drawing up and submitting annual and final implementation reports on the Programme activity to the Monitoring Committee and the European Commission;
  • Collating data on each ESF measure for monitoring and evaluation of the Operational Programme, including data on individual participants in measures, where applicable.

The functions of the Managing Authority of the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme 2007-2013 are defined in Article 60 of Council Regulation (EC) 1083/2006.

Role of the Certifying Authority

The ESF Certifying Authority is responsible for ensuring the sound and efficient financial management of all Operational Programmes including the HCI OP 2007-2013 and the PEIL 2014-2020.

In accordance with Article 126 of the Common Provisions Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013, the Certifying Authority is responsible for:

Submitting Payment Applications
  • drawing up and submitting payment applications to the European Commission, and certifying that they result from reliable accounting systems and  are based on verifiable supporting documents and have been subject to verifications by the Managing Authority;
Drawing up the Accounts
  • drawing up the accounts referred to in point (a) of Article 59(5) of the Financial Regulation 966/2012;
  • certifying the completeness and accuracy of the accounts and that the expenditure entered in the accounts complies with applicable law and has been incurred in respect of operations selected for funding in accordance with the criteria applicable to the Operational Programme;
  • taking account when drawing up and submitting payment applications of the results of all audits carried out by, or under the responsibility of, the audit authority;
Ensuring the Existence of Computerised Records
  • Ensuring the existence of a computerised system and maintaining said computerised system that records and stores the accounting records of each operation in support of the submission of payment applications and drawing up of accounts.

The Certifying Authority is functionally independent of the Managing Authority and Audit Authority

The Certifying Authority also issues its own circulars on eligibility of expenditure and fund rules. Click here to view the circulars issued to date.

Role of the Audit Authority (Financial Control Unit)

The ESF Audit Authority (Financial Control Unit) is responsible for ensuring that audits are carried out on the proper functioning of the management and control system of ESF Operational Programmes.

In accordance with Article 127 of the Common Provisions Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013, the Audit Authority is responsible for:

  • drawing up an audit strategy within eight months of adoption of the Operational Programme, which outlines the audit methodology, the sampling method and the planning of audits in relation to the current accounting year and the two subsequent accounting years;
  • ensuring that declared expenditure is audited based on a representative sample using a statistical sampling method. The sample selected shall be sufficient to enable the Audit Authority to draw up a valid opinion;
  • drawing up an annual control report for the European Commission, setting out the main findings of the audits carried out during the year, including findings in regard to any deficiencies found in the management and control system and propose and oversee corrective actions.

The Audit Authority is functionally independent of the Managing Authority and Certifying Authority. Click here for more information on the role of the Audit Authority.