Brian Hayes MEP

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Monthly Archives: November 2014

22,000 Children Die Every Day from Malnutrition – Hayes

Speaking in the European Parliament, Brian Hayes MEP has called on the EU to tackle the issue of Child Malnutrition head on. Mr Hayes made his comments during a debate on addressing Child Malnutrition in developing countries.

“I believe nutrition, especially in the context of children`s health, should be a key priority in our future development agenda.. In the developing world, approximately 22,000 children die every day. Over 90% of these children live in Africa and Asia.” Said Mr Hayes

“We need to invest in preventing child malnutrition now. The immediate causes of malnutrition revolve around access to nutritious food. The EU needs to work to ensure access to nutritious diets for all. We also need to provide the training and equipment to developing countries to allow them produce their own food, ensuring future food security.”

“Gender discrimination is one of the fundamental drivers of malnutrition. The practice of girls not attending school, restrictions on women earning an income and their inferior role within a household needs to be overcome. Improving women`s role in society, providing access to education and control of resources must also be addressed and will have a positive impact on nutrition knowledge.

“We also must encourage breastfeeding to avoid contaminated water to reduce preventable child deaths. Improving rates of breastfeeding requires better supports and suitable environments for women to breastfeed. Nutrition in the first thousand days from pregnancy to the age of two is a vital time for physical and cognitive development. Malnutrition and the lack of safe water and sanitation contribute to half of all child deaths.”

“Next year is the European Year of Development. Making child malnutrition a priority can make a big difference.” Concluded Mr Hayes

Central Bank finally discloses true mortgage rates – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today welcomed the disclosure of the true mortgage rates advertised by Irish banks, which emerged during the address by Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Patrick Honohan, to the Oireachtas Finance Committee.

“The Central Bank has finally revealed that the average rate for mortgages charged by Irish banks is 4.51%. This is the first time such figures have been available to the public. This disclosure by the Central Bank should be welcomed but it also exposes the rip-off that Irish customers have to deal with when paying for a mortgage,” said Mr. Hayes.

“This figure is almost 2% higher than the Eurozone average. When we have a banking sector that is dominated by banks which are servicing loss-making tracker mortgages, the incentive to charge standard variable mortgage rates in excess of 4.5% is very high.”

“The Central Bank of Ireland previously said that the new mortgage business rate was 3.47%, however, this included restructured tracker mortgages, despite the fact that no tracker mortgage has been sold since 2008. The ECB stood over this and claimed that this was in line with their rules,” added Mr. Hayes.

“I will be bringing this issue to the attention of the ECB. As the new supervisor of the Eurozone’s main banks, the ECB needs to ensure that national regulators publish new business figures that accurately represent the current mortgage rate offered by banks.”

“If I walk into a bank in Germany or France, I can get a 20-year fixed rate mortgage at less than 3.5% interest. Our mortgage system needs a major overhaul. We don’t have a market for reasonably priced long-term fixed interest mortgages; neither do we have a rental system that offers long-term security. Many other European countries offer that long-term rental security as an alternative for people who do not wish to buy a house.”

Juncker Investment Plan is not an ATM machine

Commenting this morning in the European Parliament, Fine Gael Dublin MEP Brian Hayes said

“This morning’s announcement from the European Commission on investment is welcome. Europe needs a kick start to get people back to work. Private investment in Ireland is down 20% since 2008. Without private sector investment we won’t get growth. We are already lagging behind the USA on the investment front.”

“By using existing public investment to leverage private sector funding in viable new projects – we can make a difference. €63 billion from the European Investment Bank and from the existing EU Budget has the potential to unlock €270 billion in private sector funding. The new fund – the EFSI – will be able to take on risk in a way that the EIB cannot. By diminishing the risk issues for good projects – we can get Europe moving again.”

“New funds need a pipeline of good projects. There is a responsibility on all member states to bring good projects forward.”

“Ireland has a chance to get first mover advantage on this. Because public investment and private investment has been badly hit in Ireland in recent years, former programme countries, like Ireland, need more support from this plan. I made this point last night to Jean Claude Juncker. We need to bring forward projects that are market focused and help Ireland become more competitive. Time is of the essence.”

“There is no new money around as Europe suffers from debt levels that are too high. But we know there are lots of projects which cannot get capital. I hope this announcement can provoke a new confidence in Europe.”

Hayes calls for Integrated Approach to Tackle Cigarettes Smuggling

Brian Hayes MEP, in an address to the European Parliament tonight (Monday), has called for an integrated approach to tackle smuggling.

“With the highest price for cigarettes in the EU and the second highest in the world, Ireland is a prime target for international criminal gangs. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), whose role is to prevent smuggling across the EU, needs to improve its coordination with customs authorities throughout the EU. If we can build a Banking Union, we can build a union where all custom authorities and coast guards can at the very least speak to each other.” said Mr Hayes.

“By working together we can take on and beat the criminal gangs. In October of this year the European Anti-Fraud Office’s Operation REPLICA seized 130 million cigarettes.”

“Illicit trade causes huge damage to the retail industry in Ireland especially. Local family newsagents lose out greatly to imported illegal cigarettes. Smuggling has a big impact on the revenues of shops and is directly responsible for job losses in Ireland. 86% of retailers have less than 10 employees and newsagents fall into this category. While the closure of a factory can be front page news, the loss of 1 or 2 jobs in local newsagents all over Ireland gets less attention but has a major impact nationally.”

“The EU Commission estimates that illicit trade in cigarettes costs the Europeans over €10 billion each year in lost tax and customs revenue. And there is a human cost behind the smuggling of illegal cigarettes.”

“The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is the lead European agency tackling smuggling. Working with customs authorities across Europe, they provide hands on support. Criminal gangs ignore jurisdictions, we need to adapt to the threat we face.  We need to integrate The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) with national customs and coastguards.”

“Across the EU 11% of cigarettes smoked are illegal, in Ireland its 13%. The men and women of our own Revenue Commissioners, Naval Service and Coast Guard are doing an incredible job. However we have an extensive coastline to police. We need a permanent working relationship with our European partners to tackle the problem of smuggling. Bringing together all of the players in this area, across Europe, and putting this integration on a statutory footing, makes sense for everyone.”

Ireland must exert its influence on Juncker’s €300 billion plan – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today said that Ireland must make its voice heard on Jean-Claude Junker’s proposed €300 billion investment plan for Europe which is due to be decided by the European Commission next week.

“The Commission is expected to decide on Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposed €300 billion investment plan for Europe early next week, after which President Juncker will announce his plan to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Ireland has a significant opportunity to capitalise on the benefits of this plan in order to deliver real growth to the Irish economy particularly through infrastructure projects and SME lending,” said Mr. Hayes.

“Juncker’s €300 billion plan is expected to take existing funds from the EU budget and the European Investment Bank to use as seed funding in order to attract private investment. The plan will mainly look to finance infrastructure projects and will also focus on research and innovation, digital economy and environment,” added MEP Hayes.

“The government is involved in a joint task force with the Commission, the European Investment Bank and other Member States which aims to identify strategic investments that can be undertaken. Ireland must exert its influence on this plan and the government needs to bring to the table sustainable and workable projects across the country which can translate into jobs and growth for the economy.

“This task force will need to bring its final proposals to the European Council meeting on December 18/19. Of course, we need clarity from the Commission as to exactly how much public funds will be used in this plan. Nonetheless, the government needs to put significant resources into ensuring that Ireland extracts the best possible result from this plan,” concluded Mr. Hayes.

Hayes welcomes €125 Million EU Social Fund increase

Great opportunity for Dublin based projects and programmes

Fine Gael Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes, has welcomed the announcement this week of an increase in the EU Social Fund of €125 million. The increase brings the total Social Fund in Ireland to over €500 million over the next 7 years. The funding is part of a €3.3 billion EU Structural Funds announcement made by new EU Commissioner Phil Hogan.

“Over the next 7 years over €500 million will be allocated to the EU Social Fund in Ireland. The ESF can be used to support job creation programmes, training, literacy programmes as well as education projects. The money can also be used to promote entrepreneurship and tackle social exclusion.”

‘DigiMedia’ is one Dublin based programme that benefited from ESF Funds. The programme offered training for 100 participants in the digital communication and audio-visual sector. The opportunity now exists for many more Dublin based projects to expand and for new ones to be established.” said Mr Hayes.

“The European Social Fund has been hugely beneficial to Ireland. From 2007-2013 Ireland received €375 million in social funding and benefited 166,152 people. Funding has increased significantly for the new EU Social Fund. I am encouraging those interested to make contact with ESF Operation Unit in the Department of Education who has responsibility for administering the funds” concluded Mr Hayes.

A Grand Bargain on Mortgages is Needed – Hayes

Former Minister of State at the Department of Finance and current Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes, is proposing a grand bargain between the ECB, the Government and the Irish Banks. The ‘Grand Bargain’ would involve introducing fixed rate mortgages at a fair price for homeowners and would help resolve the problem of tracker mortgages for Irish banks.

“Europe owes Ireland for the action we took during the crash that saved the Euro. The time is now right for the European Central Bank to step up to the plate and put things right. Helping us fix the mortgage problem is the one thing it can do. By taking the tracker loans from Irish banks on to its own balance sheet, the ECB can unlock this problem.”

“I believe leadership on the issue has to come from the highest levels of government and from the Irish Central Bank.”

“The ECB would be taking on a very low risk by taking tracker mortgages on to its balance sheet and of course it would have zero financing cost. I call this move a ‘Grand Bargain’. Removing tracker mortgages from the books of Irish banks would improve their profitability and free up capital for new lending to growing businesses creating new jobs.”

“Improving the profitability of Irish banks will in turn increase the value of the taxpayers’ shareholding in these banks. As part of the ‘Grand Bargain’, the banks should be obliged to agree that the interest rate on existing variable mortgages will be set at an agreed percentage above the ECB rate. Those on variable mortgages are not only paying for the sins of the banks, but they are holding back the economy because of depressed spending power. They are the group being fleeced by the banks. Having variable interest rates two percentage points higher than continental Europe is one of the biggest rip-offs in living memory.”

“International interest rates are now at historically low levels. It is possible for the banks to borrow 10-year money on the international markets or from the ECB at less than 2pc. In turn, 10-year fixed interest mortgages should be made available at 3.5pc or even less. That should be also part of the deal. Getting this right can unlock the pent-up demand that has for too long lain moribund in our struggling economy.”