Brian Hayes MEP

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Provide all EU citizens with a free interrail ticket on their 18th birthday – Hayes

Provide all EU citizens with a free interrail ticket on their 18th birthday – Hayes

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes has today (Thursday) supported calls from the Leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) Manfred Weber, for the European Commission to introduce free interrail passes for EU citizens on their 18th birthday.

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The programme would be funded by the European Commission in co-operation with Member States and rail companies. The issue is expected to be discussed in the European Parliament in Strasbourg next week.

“I fully support the initiative proposed by the EPP, the group Fine Gael is affiliated to in the European Parliament. The EU have introduced many programmes which have benefited young people such as Erasmus +. The “18th Birthday Interrail Pass for Europe” program is another way that young people could benefit from the European Union and at the same time promote tourism and enhance social cohesion. It will also allow young people learn about other countries, make new friends and discover new opportunities.”

“Europe needs to reach out to a younger generation. Europe badly needs to dream again and celebrate the common bonds that tie us together. We need to move on from the failure of Brexit. We need to invite young people to travel across Europe – their European Union and experience the idea of unity through diversity.”

“The European Union has heavily invested in railway infrastructure across Europe. By 2020 almost €30 billion will have been invested. It makes perfect sense to encourage the use of this network. Almost every EU Member State is connected to the rail network. For countries that are not part of the network, tickets for transport such as a ferry to the nearest rail connection would be provided.”

“The “18th Birthday Interrail Pass for Europe” would give all young people, regardless of their social and educational background the opportunity to discover Europe,” concluded MEP Hayes.

Hayes questions EBA Chairman on possible move to Dublin

Hayes questions EBA Chairman on possible move to Dublin

Brian Hayes MEP today questioned European Banking Authority (EBA) Chairman Andrea Enria, in an ECON Committee meeting in the European Parliament, about the likelihood of the institution moving from London to Dublin following the Brexit referendum.

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“I wanted to stress to the EBA Chairman that moving the institution to Frankfurt or Paris would not make sense the main financial watchdogs (ESMA, ECB, EIOPA) are already based in those locations. Mr. Enria was clear in telling MEPs on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee that the decision on finding a new location for the EBA needs to be taken very quickly to give staff certainty. This is a decision that needs to be taken jointly by the European Parliament and Council through a legislative amendment to the EBA regulation.

“I believe the government needs to act quickly on this and needs to work hard in convincing European colleagues that Dublin is the ideal location for the EBA. We share the closest similarities with London; we have the same language, our business environment is very similar and our financial services activity is closely related to London’s. As a small Member State, we actually have real skin in the game in making the case for Dublin as the EBA’s new location – it would be a positive step for the EU to spread its financial supervisory expertise to a small country on Europe’s periphery, rather than opt for one of the large core Member States.”

New EU Insolvency Directive could be major boost for cross-border mortgages – Hayes

New EU Insolvency Directive could be major boost for cross-border mortgages – Hayes

Only 3 % of EU citizens have availed of a cross-border mortgage, credit card or insurance product

Brian Hayes MEP today said that the European Commission will soon propose an EU Insolvency Directive, aimed at harmonising practices between national insolvency regimes.

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“The new EU Insolvency Directive is coming down the tracks very soon. This could be a huge boost in establishing a cross-border mortgage regime in the EU. President Juncker through his recent State of the Union speech and Commissioner Dombrovskis have both made it clear that the Commission is rapidly pushing forward with legislative proposals to harmonise national insolvency laws.

“Cross-border mortgages will not become a reality unless we have harmonised insolvency practices across the EU. Citizens cannot avail of mortgages in other Member States because banks will not enter into cross-border mortgage agreements as there is such huge differences between national insolvency regimes.

“If we are to have a real internal market in the EU, cross-border mortgages should be the norm. We’ve already got Banking Union in place and one would think that if EU banks are under the same rules, cross-border mortgages should be a given. Yet, the Commission has carried out research that shows that only 3 percent of consumers in the EU have availed of a mortgage, credit card or insurance product in another Member State.

“A proper internal market for mortgages would be a huge boost for Irish citizens. There is a serious lack of competition in the Irish mortgage market with only five main providers in the market. Recent Central Bank of Ireland figures show that the average variable mortgage rate is still much higher than the Eurozone average.

“I expect that Commissioner Dombrovskis will propose an EU Insolvency Directive before the end of the year. This legislation has great potential and could cut out lengthy delays in insolvency proceedings and set a new EU benchmark for best practice on insolvency. The goal should be to have all national insolvency regimes performing at a minimum level of efficiency.

“Ireland made fundamental changes to insolvency rules through the Personal Insolvency Act 2012. Because of this legislation and the insistence of the Troika that reform in this area be applied, Irish citizens now have a number of realistic debt resolution options to deal with unsustainable debts. With our modernised insolvency regime in place, Ireland should be in a good position to deal with new EU rules should they come about.

“A key part of the insolvency plans will be on business restructuring and insolvency to speed up recovery of assets and give companies a second chance. The idea is to give business a chance to overcome bankrupcy in order to foster a dynamic business environment.

“Ideally, if a Directive becomes a reality it should provide clear guidelines on, for example, what rights creditors have in a restructuring plan and how and when insolvency regimes should be monitored.”

EU budget hike unlikely for Ireland next year following massive growth in 2015 GDP – Hayes

EU budget hike unlikely for Ireland next year following massive growth in 2015 GDP – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today said that recent speculation of a massive increase in Ireland’s contribution to the EU budget following the publication of the 2015 GDP figures is now highly unlikely.

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“Ireland is no longer a net recipient to the EU budget. That means that we are no longer relying on the EU budget from Brussels and our voice at the EU decision making table will be more significant in the future. It was in 2014 when we became a net contributor to the budget – the first time ever. With more contribution comes more political clout in devising the budget and setting the rules. It is also a good thing that we can now share with other newer Member States the benefits that we’ve gained over the past 40 years of EU membership. Since joining the EU we have received from the budget over €44 billion. 

“The speculation over the summer that we would see an increase in our EU budget contribution by €280 million next year, due to the once-off spike in our GDP growth rate for 2015 of 26% is now discredited. 

“Commissioner Georgieva (EU Commissioner for Budgets) has explained to me, (see below reply) that the EU budget is a GNI-based resource, ie Gross National Income. Our contributions are calculated on the basis of GNI, not GDP. In an open economy like Ireland, the difference between GNI and GDP can be huge. Our GDP growth rate will always be higher than GNI since GDP is heavily influenced by the multinational sector and profits are very often repatriated to the US and other locations. GNI does not account for repatriated profits.”

“Additionally, our budgetary contribution is based on a complex averaging method where other years are factored into the calculation. It is also dependent on the GNI performance of other Member States.

“Commissioner Georgieva has confirmed that the CSO has to inform the Commission of the final GNI figure for 2015 and this will be validated by Eurostat. The final decision on our GNI figure will be communicated in October and there will be no negotiation after that. 

“The bigger issue for Ireland’s contribution to the EU budget is not radical moves in Irish GDP but rather the likely impact of Brexit on future Budget Contributions. That’s why we need to be prudent in the upcoming budget. Our priority for the coming years must be to manage our public finances responsibly.”

Decline in University rankings “inevitable” as research funding lost due to Brexit – Hayes

Decline in University rankings “inevitable” as research funding lost due to Brexit – Hayes

Majority of EU funded research in Irish universities is jointly funded with a UK institution

Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes, has today (Tuesday) said that the recent fall in the global rankings of Irish universities is set to continue if the research community fails to collectively address the impact of Brexit on research funding. The MEP for Dublin, which contains five of the State’s nine ranked institutions, was speaking ahead of the publication tomorrow night (Wednesday) of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

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“We’ve already seen every university in Ireland, bar NUIG, fall down the table in the recent QS rankings. Tomorrow’s Times Higher Education World University Ranking is regarded as the most influential and is totally focused on ‘research-intense universities’. The omens are not good and we face the real possibility of having no university in the top 200. If our universities fall outside the elite top 200, our reputation as a global innovation and research centre would take a hammer blow.”

“The assessments of all the global ranking bodies are focused on the research capabilities of universities. Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will dramatically affect our ‘fourth level’ research sector. Nearly all our EU funded research projects are joint initiatives with UK universities.

“Until there is a coordinated national approach to tackling the impact of Brexit on our research funding it is inevitable that our rankings will fall further. A good ranking for Irish universities is essential to attract grants, donations and the best and brightest researchers.

“I’m calling for a national ‘fourth level’ forum to set out a clear message to the ranking bodies and the world about our research potential.

“We cannot expect ranking bodies to have faith in Irish research unless we set out how the loss of funding when UK universities leave the EU will be accounted for. Given the lead in times associated with preparing research grant applications we need urgent action,” concluded MEP Hayes

ECJ judgement on Minimum Price Alcohol policy doesn’t prevent Ireland from changing domestic law – Hayes

ECJ judgement on Minimum Price Alcohol policy doesn’t prevent Ireland from changing domestic law – Hayes

Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Sunday) said that he believes whatever opposition might come from the EU on minimum unit pricing of alcohol contained in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, that Ireland has the power to adopt such a policy irrespective of the opposition of the drinks industry or others. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is due to commence committee stage in the Seanad in October.

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“Earlier this year, the European Commission and eleven other member states expressed concerns that the legislation is a breach of single market rules. Whatever other member states do or whatever the industry ultimately does – I believe we have the power to implement this legislation under existing ECJ (European Court Justice) rulings.”

“We should not fear the threat of court action by the drinks industry who continually point to an alleged successful challenge to similar legislation in Scotland last year. In Scotland’s case the legislation was referred by the Scottish Courts to the European Court.  The European Court ruled that it was a matter for national courts but stated Member States should increase excise on alcohol as the first option. But crucially the ECJ recognised the supremacy of the national courts in reaching a final decision.”

“This is a public health issue and article 34 of the Functioning of the EU Treaty allows member states to restrict access to the single market for that purpose. Ireland must be allowed to introduce legislation in the interest of the protection of public health. The social and economic impact of alcohol on society is enormous. New research found that in 2013, 3 people died each day as a result of drinking alcohol. Misuse of alcohol in Ireland cost €2.35 billion in 2013 alone. There is also approximately 900 cases of alcohol related cancer diagnosis each year. We need to take this issue serious and tackle it head on.”

“Minimum pricing will set a floor price for alcohol. It targets the products that are currently very cheap but have a high alcohol content. Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs would be unaffected by the legislation. It only applies to the off-trade. Minimum pricing has successfully been introduced in a number of provinces in Canada.”

“The legislation is not about preventing people from drinking. It’s about reducing our consumption and improving our health. It’s not a silver bullet solution, but an important part of the consumption fight. Ireland was a European leader in introducing the smoking ban. We can once again become a leader by introducing minimum unit pricing on alcohol.” concluded MEP Hayes.

Hayes calls for national ‘fourth level’ forum to address Brexit

Hayes calls for national ‘fourth level’ forum to address Brexit

Irish & UK universities need reciprocal deal to keep researchers crossing the Irish Sea

Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes, has today (Friday) called for a national ‘forth level’ forum to address the challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit to fourth level research in Ireland. Over 30 bodies including HEI’s, State agencies and departments hold responsibility for research in Ireland. Brexit could result in lost funding and severed links with UK universities. The MEP for Dublin suggested new reciprocal deals between Irish and UK universities to keep researchers crossing the Irish Sea.

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“Research in Ireland needs a single voice to address the challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit. There are a plethora of Government departments, state agencies, institutions and bodies responsible. Societal, commercial and governmental priorities are also involved. As it stands there is no clear message about where Irish research will stand post Brexit.

“We need a national ‘fourth level’ forum to develop and set out a clear message to Europe about our potential.

 “Many existing and longstanding research ties between universities either side of the Irish Sea could be broken when Britain leaves the EU. As an English speaking country in the EU we could also stand to attract research that once flocked to the UK. Research is global, a clear message about how our research community will address Brexit must come from colleges, State agencies and departments.

 “UK and Irish Universities must work closer together, not drift apart. Already UK universities are being discounted for joint EU research grant applications because of Brexit. As it stands the Irish Universities Association (IUA) does a good job attracting and facilitating researchers from outside the EU to study in Ireland. The knowledge and skillset already exists to make it easier to research in Ireland.

“Irish and UK universities must step up, rather than walk away from their existing ties. As a first step I’m suggesting reciprocal, cost neutral arrangements between Irish and UK universities to maintain students crossing the Irish Sea,” concluded MEP Hayes