Brian Hayes MEP

Hayes encourages more young Irish people to consider Erasmus programme

Hayes encourages more young Irish people to consider Erasmus programme

Irish students less inclined to partake in Erasmus than European counterparts

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes, has encouraged more young people to get involved in the EU’s Erasmus Programme, pointing out that less Irish students participate in the programme than other European students.

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“All universities in Ireland offer an Erasmus programme. But figures show that more than twice as many EU students come into Ireland for Erasmus, as Irish students go to other EU countries. On average 3,500 Irish students travel to universities in other EU countries, while about 8,000 students from universities in other EU countries come to Ireland.

“This year marks the 30th Birthday of the Erasmus programme. The programme was first established in 1987 and allows students living in the EU the opportunity to study in another European country during their time at university. Over the past 30 years, over 88,000 Irish students and teachers have participated in the programme.

“Students who go on an Erasmus exchange have a great opportunity to visit different countries. The programme allows students to experience these countries as opposed to just hearing and learning about them.

“The Erasmus programme is one of the most successful EU programmes. Its popularity continues to grow. Between 2014 and 2020 over €14.7 billion will be provided by the EU. There are great opportunities for Irish students to experience other EU countries. I encourage all students who are interested to speak with their University authorities about participating in the programme,” MEP Hayes concluded.

 

Ireland joining European Southern Observatory would boost SME sector – Hayes

Ireland joining European Southern Observatory would boost SME sector – Hayes

Membership would enable Irish astrophysics’ sector to pitch for international high tech contracts

Careful consideration must be given by the Government to Ireland joining the European Southern Observatory (ESO), said Brian Hayes.

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“The limited offer, which presents reduced fees, is due to expire very soon, and while the investment is not inconsiderable, the longer term benefits to the Irish economy must not be underestimated, he added.

“ESO is widely recognised as the most advanced, and scientifically productive, astronomical facility on the planet. For the last 10 years, ESO membership is regarded as the top priority of Irish astronomers.

“TCD, UCD, NUIG, NUIM, DCU, UCC all run astrophysics-related degree programmes, with an average of 10 students graduating in astronomy and astrophysics per institution, per year. Astronomy is an excellent motivator for the brightest students to enter STEM and provides an excellent source of transferrable skills, including analytical, computational, and problem solving.

“Irish membership in the ESO would include:

  • Irish researchers being guaranteed access to its facilities
  • Irish businesses being able to compete for contracts to develop and supply products and services to the ESO
  • A number of training and collaboration for students and researchers within the astrophysics sphere
  • The further promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects through the ESO’s very successful outreach programmes

“In addition to the large research community already in position to maximize scientific return from ESO membership, Ireland also has the industrial capability to bid successfully for contracts that will be available. ESO recognises Ireland’s potential to compete and deliver on major international research and industrial projects, and in a bit to encourage us to join, have offered a reduced joining and membership fee, and an option to spread this cost over a 10 year period.

“This cost is not insignificant. Member states are charged membership fees based on its GDP, but the current Director General of the ESO is freezing our joining fee at the 2015 GDP rate. Therefore, the current entrance fee is in the region of €14 million euro, with an annual fee of circa €3 million. However, the ESO target is to have a minimum industrial return coefficient of at least 70% for each Member State, with no upper bound.

“The vision in Innovation 2020 is for Ireland to become a Global Innovation Leader driving a strong sustainable economy and a better society.  Key to this vision is supporting excellent science, nurturing talent and delivering impact.

“Over the past 10 years, the 16 ESO member states have benefitted from contracts worth a total of €715 million. Can we afford on passing up a chance to share a slice of this pie?

“It is my understanding that the Department of Jobs, Trade, Enterprise and Innovation is currently engaged in discussions on the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan. I would urge a close study of the long-term benefits ESO membership would pose to our SME sector – and a timely completion of this review as the discounted offer is due to expire when the Director Steps down from the ESO at the end of this month.”

Purchased an item on holidays that turns out to be faulty? The European Consumer Centre can help – Hayes

Purchased an item on holidays that turns out to be faulty? The European Consumer Centre can help – Hayes

Fine Gael Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has highlighted to Irish citizens travelling abroad this Summer to be aware of their consumer rights and the support structures that are in place when purchasing goods in another EU country.

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“70% of Irish people who go on summer holidays remain within the EU. Those on holidays often purchase clothing and electronics or avail of services such as hotels and restaurants. However, not many people are aware of the services that the EU has in place to protect them against faulty products or poor services.

“Every EU Member State has a European Consumer Centre (ECC) whose job it is to resolve complaints between consumers and traders in different EU countries. When necessary the ECC can liaise directly with a trader via its sister centre in the country of purchase.

“For example – You are on holidays in Spain and purchase a camera which stops working when you return to Ireland. You have emailed the shop but have failed to receive an adequate response or have language difficulties. You can then contact the ECC who will advise you or make representations on your behalf via the Spanish ECC. The same entitlement applies if you purchase the product online.

“In the last annual report, the ECC in Ireland received 3,503 contacts from consumers. 695 complaints – that’s almost 20% of these complaints – required further assistance from the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net).  When these are examined further it is clear that air travel is once again the top area of complaint. Other areas of complaints that have made it into the top five are electronic goods, car rental, entertainment (for example, sporting tickets, vouchers, or TV broadcasting), and online services.

“When faulty items are purchased in Ireland you simply return it to the shop but this is not possible when the seller is in another country. The ECC provides a valuable service and I would encourage consumers to avail of their services if they find themselves in the position of purchasing faulty products” concluded MEP Hayes.

Blind and visually impaired people will benefit significantly from the new EU rules on copyright – Hayes

Blind and visually impaired people will benefit significantly from the new EU rules on copyright – Hayes

Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has welcomed new EU legislation that will give greater access to books for blind and visually impaired people. The European Parliament has successfully passed the new regulation which will increase the number of books and other copyright materials available in accessible formats such as braille, audio books and large print.

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“The decision taken by the European Parliament means that books and other materials that are protected by copyright law can now be easily reproduced in an accessible format for blind and visually impaired people. Up until now, visually impaired people only had access to less than 5% of published works in the EU.

“Everyone has a right to education, information and social participation. The rules up until now have been very unfair. Blind and visually impaired people have been excluded from reading books as they were not published in accessible formats due to copyright rules. The new rules changes that. Individuals and organisations can now make copies of works in accessible formats and distribute them across the EU without fear of breaking the law.”

“There are approximately 30 million visually impaired people in the EU who will benefit significantly from this regulation change.” concluded MEP Hayes.

Airlines not sufficiently respecting EU air passenger rights – Hayes

Airlines not sufficiently respecting EU air passenger rights – Hayes

Passengers rarely receive the care or compensation that they are entitled to in cases of delays or flight cancellations, Brian Hayes stated.

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According to a recent survey of almost 11,500 passengers travelling across the EU:

  • 10% of those who were delayed experienced a financial loss
  • In 25% of those cases, the loss was over €300

“What some passengers may not realise is that they are entitled to compensation if their flight is delayed for more than three hours, or cancelled. However, this is only respected in just 25% of cases.

“Passengers are also entitled to receive free food and drink if their flight is delayed for more than two hours, or cancelled, and that was only respected in 46% of cases.

“EU rules are in place to compensate passengers adequately and airlines are often ignoring them, while the authorities are not stepping in to enforce them. Air passenger rights must be protected in all cases and not just for those who complain.

“As Irish tourists embark on what’s bound to be a busy holiday season, it’s important that they know that, safeguards are there for them should they encounter any disturbance to their travel arrangements. The onus is also airlines to hand out compensation when it is due and look after passengers properly. Infringing airlines should be reported to the European authorities to ensure appropriate action is taken.”

Free HIV testing must be considered to ensure early detection

Free HIV testing must be considered to ensure early detection

More needs to be done to address growing numbers of HIV diagnoses in Ireland, says Brian Hayes MEP

HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis cases are on the rise in the European Union and Ireland needs to get to grips with it, along with other Member States, said Brian Hayes MEP.

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“Tuberculosis (TB), which is the biggest killer of people living with HIV, has become a serious cross-border threat as population mobility is increasing. In Ireland last year, 512 people were diagnosed with HIV – a number which has been creeping up since 2011 and particularly in the past two years. Of the numbers diagnosed, 77% were males, while 23% were female. What is interesting though is that over half of the people diagnosed where born outside of Ireland, and are now living here.

“The good news is that people who have been diagnosed with HIV and are receiving treatment now have a near normal life expectancy. However there are fears that a growing ambivalence about the disease is putting increasing numbers at risk. Getting the text is crucial  and while some clinics do offer free tests, one can expect to pay between €75 and €120 for a HIV test.

“As HIV remains the communicable disease bearing the greater social stigma, and with greater numbers of EU and International citizens coming to Ireland, we need to consider making HIV tests free of charge to speed up diagnosis. According to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), one out of seven people living with HIV are not aware they are HIV positive.”

“The European Commission is currently considering the need for a harmonised infection surveillance programme to immediately detect outbreaks of these contagious diseases, assess trends in prevalence, provide disease burden estimates and effectively track in real time how diagnosis, treatment and care are managed.  The estimated average time between HIV infection and diagnosis is four years. This needs to be drastically reduced and free testing, along with a public health campaign may be the way to tackle this.”

Hayes suggests Oireachtas Finance Committee hearing with Draghi

Hayes suggests Oireachtas Finance Committee hearing with Draghi

Following Mario Draghi’s appearance at various Eurozone national parliaments, Brian Hayes MEP has suggested that an Oireachtas Finance Committee hearing with President Draghi would be very beneficial for Irish lawmakers.

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“President Draghi has now appeared before the Parliaments of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Finland and Netherlands. It is expected that he will appear before the Cypriot Parliament very soon. Given the ECB’s engagement with other national parliaments, there is now a good opportunity for the ECB to engage with the Oireachtas. Ireland has been a member of the Eurozone since the euro was first introduced in 1999 and we remain firmly committed to the single currency.

“I have written to John McGuinness TD, Chairman of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, suggesting that an invitation might be extended to President Draghi to appear before the Committee. The Oireachtas Finance Committee is the obvious committee to have a forward looking engagement and discussion with the ECB.

“This is obviously a decision for the Committee itself to make but as an MEP on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, I would do everything possible to encourage President Draghi to attend if he was invited. President Draghi regularly appears before the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament where I have an opportunity to question him about such issues.

“There are enormous policy issues that Irish politicians need to debate with the ECB, given the significance of monetary policy in the Eurozone system at the moment. The ECB has adopted many conventional and non-conventional policy measures during and after the crisis such as adjustments to its main refinancing rate, targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTROs) and of course, the Asset Purchase Programme (commonly known as Quantitative Easing) of private and public sector debt.

“We should not underestimate the major impact that QE and other ECB policies can have on our domestic economy. We should also remember that Ireland is the fastest growing country in the Eurozone and the ECB’s policies are conducted on the basis of a struggling Eurozone economy. We have to question whether ECB policy should now be aligning itself more with a positive growth agenda.

“Whatever about the work of the Banking Inquiry in the last Dáil and some of the legacy issues surrounding the Irish Bailout, which have been debated at some length, the primary concern now is how the Eurozone goes forward and how the role of the ECB and the Single Supervisory Mechanism might evolve.

“The ECB should engage, wherever possible, with all Eurozone Member States, big and small, on the monetary policy decisions it has taken. The independence of the ECB is not in question, but discussion and debate on the future of the Eurozone economy is very much warranted.”