Ireland’s policy on EU opt-outs need to be part of wider Brexit debate – Hayes
In a speech to a Slaughter and May conference on The Future of Europe in Brussels, Brian Hayes MEP today said that in light of Brexit, Ireland must review its policy of opting out of various EU policy areas.
“Ireland’s historical policy of opting out of EU policy areas and legislation, especially in the Justice and Home Affairs area, needs to be reviewed in light of Brexit. Traditionally we have followed the UK where they seek an opt-out from EU legislation, particularly because of our close ties and the existence of the Common Travel Area between both countries.
“However, our opt-out policy puts us at a remove from the core countries of the EU. But without the UK at the table, could we become increasingly isolated as we adopt an à la carte approach to the EU? I believe this question needs to be addressed by all parties in Ireland.
“Effectively we need to do a cost-benefit analysis, setting out the pros and cons of each of the existing opt-outs and justifying why we would continue with that policy.
“Through the Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties, Ireland and the UK secured protocols allowing for opt-outs on immigration, asylum, civil law legislation, police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
“In the past, it always made sense for us to opt-out of policy areas along with the UK, as we were so interconnected on issues like migration, civil law and judicial cooperation. Yet, now the goalposts have drastically shifted with Brexit. Our future is as a fully committed member of the EU. But our continued membership of the EU needs to reflect a more grown up response in the area of common EU action, especially in the new post-Brexit world.
“It would be better to have a national debate on this issue now while the Brexit” negotiations are underway, so that we can arrive at a balanced approach. We should look again at the Schengen free travel area, police and justice cooperation and migration issues, as part of a broader Brexit debate. But our decision to opt in, must be based on clear national benefits to Ireland as a consequence of a change in policy.
“The fact is that there are many sensible pieces of EU legislation that would make our laws more progressive and would put them more in line with international standards. We have to look at this and ask whether Irish citizens or authorities are not missing out from being part of a common EU approach.
“Ireland can at any stage decide to opt in to an EU measure that has already been agreed, however, it does require Commission approval before it can be adopted into Irish law.
“We saw one example recently of Ireland using its opt-in policy to good effect. In 2015, we opted into the EU’s refugee relocation programme, which was a key tool for the EU to address the Syrian refugee crisis. We could have opted out along with the UK and Denmark but took a sensible approach and worked with our EU partners in the solution for one of Europe’s biggest crises.”
Examples of legislation that Ireland could opt into:
|“EU Blue Card” Directive (2009/50/EC): Contains measures to facilitate the admission and mobility of highly qualified migrants to the EU’s labor market by harmonising entry and residence conditions throughout the EU and by providing for a legal status and a set of rights.||Opt-out|
|Regulation (810/2009) on establishing a establishing a Community Code on Visas: Contains measures establishing the procedures and conditions for issuing visas for transit through or intended stays in the territory of the Member States not exceeding three months in any six-month period.||Opt-out|
|Return Directive (2008/115/EC): on common standards and procedures for returning illegally staying third-country nationals||Opt-out|
|Employer Sanctions Directive (2009/52/EC): This legislation provides for minimum standards on sanctions and measures against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals||Opt-out|
|Regulation (1052/2013) establishing the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur): This system was set up for cooperation between Member States to improve awareness and increase reaction capability at external borders. The aim is to prevent cross-border crime and irregular migration and contribute to protecting migrants’ lives.||Opt-out|
Unacceptable that the Commission cannot give clarity on impact of CCCTB – Hayes
Brian Hayes MEP today said that it is unacceptable that the Commission cannot give a full country-by-country impact assessment of the CCCTB proposal. Commissioner Moscovici sent a letter in response to Brian Hayes request that the Commission conducts a country-by-country assessment of the impact of CCCTB.
“We have on one hand the Commission telling us that the CCCTB will deliver huge savings to the EU and all Member States. On the other hand, the Commission now says that they are not in a position to do a proper evaluation of the overall impact of CCCTB on each Member State.
“We must remember that this is the Commission’s proposal, they have ownership of it. If they want to convince Member States to back it, they need to have the necessary evidence available.
“How can any Member State logically sign up to a proposal like this when they don’t know the exact impact it will have on their tax revenues? The Commission needs a dose of reality if they want this file to make real progress.
“I believe that the government should continue to engage on this file but ultimately we cannot sign up to anything when we don’t know the full impact on our tax revenue.
“There are still divergent views between IBEC and the Commission on the ultimate impact of CCCTB. At a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance in January, Commissioner Moscovici said that CCCTB would constitute an estimated loss of around 0.2% on Irish tax revenue. However, earlier this year IBEC said that there would be a loss of around 7.7% of Irish tax revenues if CCCTB was implemented.
“For this reason, we need a public study on the full impact of CCCTB. It is extremely confusing for Irish people to get two drastically different estimates about the impact of this major proposal on our tax revenues. While the Commission is of course on a charm offensive to sell CCCTB, we have to ensure that there is no misleading data.”
Published in the Irish Independent on 19th June 2017
Ireland behind the curve in embracing car-sharing culture
Sharing gets you further, says Hayes
Local authorities can do more to provide alternative modes of transport said Brian Hayes MEP today.
“Car sharing is a concept which is becoming increasingly popular across Europe,” he explained. “Car sharing allows people to hire cars for as little as an hour, using a booking system to reserve the vehicle and in-car technology to unlock the car and drive. It is ideal for people who only need occasional access to vehicle and don’t want to own one. Fuel, tax, insurance and maintenance are all included.
“With just 215 shared cars operating in Dublin and Cork currently, Ireland is lagging behind other small European countries in terms of provision and take-up of this service. Switzerland, for example, has a fleet over 3000 cars, while Italy, Spain, Germany and France also have much higher numbers of car sharing users.
“Car sharing reduces car dependency, congestion, noise and air pollution, and frees up land traditionally used for parking spaces. Each shared car replaces approximately 15 private cars, as well as increasing use of public transport.
“GoCar has been providing car sharing in Ireland since 2008, and has over 10,000 people registered, but with cars in just two of the major cities in Ireland, penetration of the market is limited.
“I am calling on local authorities to engage with service providers to make available space for additional cars. Culturally, there is still a leap to be made with regard to the concept, but with greater numbers of European citizens living and working in Dublin, their habits around car use can and should influence ours. The benefits to car sharing are numerous, for commuters, the environment and the state. Sharing gets you further.”
Note to Editors:
Drivers can visit GoCar.ie/Locations to request a GoCar in a new location, or contact email@example.com
Published in the Irish Sun on 15th June 2017
Roaming charge abolition is good for consumers
and good for business – Hayes
The days of costly surcharges been charged by mobile operators are now over
Dublin MEP Brian Hayes has today (Wednesday) reminded Irish citizens that from tomorrow the 15th June the EU’s new “Roam Like at Home” rules come into force. Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg the Fine Gael MEP said that the days of fearing your mobile bill when you return from holidays are over. The abolition of roaming charges is good for consumers and good for business.
“The EU has been battling to abolish roaming charges for the last decade. From Thursday this will become a reality for all Europeans. For far too long we have been ripped off for using our mobile phones in another EU country.”
“Roam Like at Home means that when you are abroad in another EU country the cost of calls, texts and data usage will now be deducted from your home price plan. You will no longer be charged for receiving calls or pay additional costs to make a call or send an SMS. You will now have a generous data usage allowance which will be sufficient for checking social media, using Spotify or looking up websites. The days of costly surcharges been charged by mobile operators are now over.”
“The new rules apply to every EU Member State and will shortly be extended to Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. All mobile operators in these countries must respect the rules. Some operators have attempted to find loopholes in the new law that simply do not exist. The fundamental principal of “Roam Like at Home” must be respected.”
“I encourage any citizen who believes their operator is not respecting the new law from June 15th to report the case to COMREG, who has the power to take action.”
“The abolition of roaming charges shows that Europe can be practical and useful in citizens’ everyday life. It is pro EU citizens and pro-consumer” concluded MEP Hayes.
EU proposals take control of London’s euroclearing operations – Hayes
Brian Hayes MEP today (Wednesday) said that new proposals published by the European Commission give EU authorities huge control over London’s lucrative euroclearing institutions (Central Counterparty Clearing house (CCP)).
“The new set of proposals are a bombshell in the context of the current Brexit negotiations. Euro clearing activity is dominated by London, primarily due to the strong EU securities and derivatives market in the city of London.
“With these new proposals, the UK will now longer be able to ensure that euro clearing activity stays in London post-Brexit.
“While it was previously expected that the legislative proposals would require an automatic relocation of all euro clearing houses to Eurozone territory, the Commission has not gone to that extreme. That is a good thing because this would have been seen as the nuclear option by the British.
“We now have a set of proposals that are a good basis for negotiations. There is a long way to go and substantial changes could still be made. The proposals will be scrutinised and amended by the European Parliament and European Council before a final vote. Obviously, the UK will try to influence these negotiations as much as possible.
“There needs to be a cooperative line of communication between both sides. There should be acknowledgement from the British side that all euro clearing operations cannot be done in a non-EU Member States. Equally, there should be recognition on the EU side that London has built up a strong euro clearing infrastructure over almost 20 years and this cannot simply be taken apart in one fell swoop.
“Under the proposals, the EU would allow for third countries to conduct euro clearing operations, however, discretionary power would be given to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and central banks to recommend that certain clearing houses are of ‘substantial systemic significance’ and should be moved to the Eurozone. The Commission would have the final say on any clearing house relocation.
“While Ireland does not have a highly developed securities and derivatives market, we could benefit from a major relocation of clearing houses to the Eurozone. In that scenario, there is potential for financial services firms that depend on clearing houses to move their operations to Eurozone locations – this could certainly boost our financial services industry.
“There’s no doubt that this will become a major point of tension in the Brexit negotiations. Some voices in Germany and France are already vying for the euro clearing business. But we need Irish voices involved in these discussions arguing for constructive negotiations.”