Brian Hayes MEP

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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Parliament Agreement on Money Market Funds legislation is crucial first step – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today welcomed the European Parliament’s approval of an EU Regulation on Money Market Funds as an important development in legislating the shadow banking sector in Europe.

“As lead negotiator in Parliament for the European People’s Party (EPP) on this file, I believe a balanced compromise has been agreed. This is a crucial first step before Parliament enters negotiations with the European Council for a final decision on the EU Money Market Funds Regulation.

“The file still requires more work but the Parliament text recognises that both parts of the MMF industry – Constant Net Asset Value funds (CNAV) and Variable Net Asset Value Funds (VNAV) – will continue into the future. Ireland is a leading European domicile for Money Market Funds with over €300 billion worth of assets held in CNAV Money Market Funds in Ireland.

“The Parliament’s agreement has replaced current CNAV funds with three new types of funds – Government CNAVs, Small Investor CNAVs and Low Volatility NAV funds. Additional safeguards will be applied to these funds to ensure that they can cope with market shocks.

“I have always taken the position that new financial regulation must not disproportionately affect a small number of small Member States. There has been a push from various EU lawmakers to completely eliminate CNAV funds as they consider them a threat to financial stability. Yet no CNAV fund in the EU has ever ‘broken the buck’ or returned less than its share price to investors. These funds are very important to the financing of large businesses, charities, local authorities and pension funds.”

European “eCall” device gets the green light – Hayes

Fine Gael MEP for Dublin, Brian Hayes has today welcomed the passing of new legislation in the European Parliament requiring all new cars in the EU to be fitted with an emergency call system. The system known as eCall will be required to be installed in all new cars from 2018.

Speaking from Strasbourg Mr Hayes said “I welcome the decision taken by the Parliament today. Every year emergency services across the EU deal with road accidents which in 2013 took 26,000 lives across the EU. Too many people are dying on our roads. Every minute counts when it comes to a road accident. It is estimated that eCall when fully operational could potentially save 2,500 lives per year across the EU.”

“In the event of a collision, the device will automatically connect to emergency services using the European emergency number 112. A number of impact sensors are located in the vehicle which triggers the activation of eCall. It will then inform emergency services of the make of car, time and GPS location.

“The goal is to solve the effectiveness of the arrival of rescue services within the “golden hour” – the time that makes the difference between life and death. The device works purely as a safety device. There will be no monitoring of motorists movements. It is not traceable and when there is no emergency (i.e.) its normal operational status it is not subject to any constant tracking.”

“All new cars in the EU will be required to have the technology installed from March 2018” concluded Mr Hayes.

EU Single Digital Market should not be about targeting large US businesses for political purposes – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today said that the EU should not make the Digital Single Market about targeting large US tech companies for political means. The Dublin MEP said that the priority should be to make communication and technology services work better for consumers.

“The European Commission will unveil the EU’s Digital Single Market strategy on May 6 which aims to propose reforms to all digital related services from online shopping to broadband provision.

“We need a Digital Single Market as it will break down barriers for the efficient delivery of e-services to all European consumers. But this should not be about the Commission going after large tech companies because of their dominance in the market.

“Recently the Commission opened formal investigations against Google for allegedly abusing its dominant position as an online search engine. I think there does need to be a full and frank investigation into allegations of market abuse since we need a level playing field for all search engine providers.

“However, I do not believe this investigation should dictate plans for the EU’s Digital Single Market. There has been a propensity from the Commission in recent months to go after some of the large US tech multinationals. While all anti-competitive practices should be investigated, there needs to be some balance. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple play an important role in the European economy and they should not be targeted for political purposes.

“The Digital Single Market should be about giving better access to consumers and businesses for digital goods and services. It is estimate that EU consumers could save €11.7 billion per year if they could choose from a full range of EU goods and services when shopping online.

“To make the Digital Single Market work, the EU needs to: 1. Quickly conclude ongoing negotiations on EU data protection rules; 2. Provide better support for tech entrepreneurs to drive new tech innovation in Europe; and 3. Improve access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services.”

Just 5% of all Tax Payers have gross incomes over €100,000 – Hayes

Upcoming Election Campaign must tackle lies on Tax from hard left and Sinn Fein.

 Fine Gael Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes, speaking this evening at a public meeting on Tax in Ballinteer, Dublin, said that the upcoming election campaign must be about tackling the distortion about the PAYE tax system that the hard left and Sinn Fein keep peddling.

“Parties of the Left believe that all our problems can be solved by a very large tax increase on those earning more than €100,000. The difficulty with their suggestion is that we don’t have enough people earning that level of income. Of the 2.1 million taxpayers, just over 103,000 cases, or 5% in total, have gross incomes over 100,000. Pretending that 5% are going to solve all the expenditure and tax plans promised by hard left politicians in an election campaign is populist nonsense.

“Our income taxation system is progressive. The more you earn the more you pay. In fact internationally, we have one of the most progressive tax systems in the world. For instance the top 5% pay 20% of all income tax gathered. The real problem in the Irish tax code lies at where people on very average pay are taxed at the top rate. That must be the priority for reform in the years ahead. It cannot be resolved overnight.

“In a globalised world human talent is the most precious resource of all. Irish graduates across all disciplines are welcome all over the world. Our graduates have a good reputation for hard work and high levels of performance. Ireland’s very high personal tax rates are contributing to a graduate brain drain.

“The same high tax rates are also a hindrance to Irish emigrants with overseas experience wishing to return home and are a severe hindrance to attracting talented people to come to live and work in Ireland.

“Ireland has one of the highest marginal tax rates in the world for single people. The figures are very stark. Single people hit the top rate of tax in Ireland at €33,800. In the UK it is €183,285, in France it is €186,749 and in Germany it is €259,100.

“To take some examples – an employee on €75,000 in the UK pays €22,000 in tax while the same employee in Ireland would pay €27,000 – a difference of €5,000 per year. On a salary of €150,000 – in the UK there is a tax bill of €59,000, while in Ireland it is €66,000.

“In devising our income tax system we have to be aware of our international competitors because labour is so mobile today. The truth behind the very high rates of marginal tax in Ireland is that we are out of sync with our global competitors. If we want to remain competitive and have an open labour market which can attract talented people to Ireland, we must be conscious of how other countries, especially in the EU, tax their citizens.

“During the past seven years many young Irish people were obliged to emigrate to find work. However a study published by UCC in 2013 showed that almost 50% of young Irish emigrants had a job before they left. In particular there is strong anecdotal evidence which indicates that Ireland’s high levels of personal taxation are an important factor in the decision of many highly qualified young professionals to emigrate including many of our expensively trained young doctors.

“If Ireland is to prosper and compete in a rapidly changing world then we must have a tax system which will retain and attract the best and the brightest.  Rates of tax on single people in Ireland are punitive compared to our competitors.  High taxes and very high rents, especially in Dublin, are a barrier to young people wishing to move back to Ireland.

“Tax policy is an important element of any strategy focused on keeping our young graduates working in Ireland and attracting home recent emigrants. It costs in the region of €300,000 euro to raise and educate a young person to graduate level. That’s an extraordinary investment by the Irish state and by Irish families.

“Emigration represents a terrible loss of human capital. The national interest is served by keeping our young people working and living in Ireland. Young people were hit hard by the recession. As the recovery takes hold their interests must be taken into account in devising a fair and proportionate taxation system. Simply increasing tax on labour is bad for the economy and bad for the recovery now thankfully underway.”

Tomorrow’s EU council meeting a test for European solidarity

Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Wednesday) said that tomorrow’s EU Council Meeting is a test for European solidarity. Europe must speak and act as one in the face of the humanitarian disaster in the Mediterranean. The Fine Gael MEP made his comments as European leaders are due to arrive in Brussels for emergency talks on the crisis.

 “Last weekend, possibly the worst disaster ever occurred on the Mediterranean coast. The area now known as the world’s deadliest border crossing took 850 lives in a single incident. This brings the total number of deaths this year as a result of people fleeing North Africa to over 1,750 – more than 30 times higher than during the same period of 2014.”

 “We need to put an end to these people-smuggling gangs. There needs to be a comprehensive European approach. It is not just an issue for individual countries such as Italy. Italy has had to act alone and with minimal help from the EU. That must change and change quickly.”

 “It is clear that the EU has failed to address the crisis to date. The plan put in place earlier this week by the European Commission and Foreign Ministers is a welcome step for short term solutions. However, tomorrow’s meeting of EU leaders will be the real test for European solidarity.”
“The values of the EU – security, solidarity and mutual respect among people, peace and protection of human rights will be truly tested. If we are serious about solving the crisis in the Mediterranean and preventing tragedies such as last weekend every country within the EU must act together” concluded Mr Hayes.

Airline records an essential part of EU counter-terrorism policy

Article by Brian Hayes MEP which was published in Garda Review on 21st April 2015

New European laws that would oblige airlines to give police in EU countries the data of passengers entering or leaving the EU, in order to help fight serious crime and terrorism must not be delayed any longer, writes Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes.

Passenger Name Record (PNR) data is information provided by passengers and collected by airlines during reservation and check-in procedures. It includes several different types of information, such as travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, baggage information and payment information.

PNR data would enable law enforcement authorities to identify previously “unknown” persons, i.e. those previously unsuspected of involvement in serious crime or terrorism, but whom an analysis of the data suggests may be involved in such crime and could be further investigated by the authorities.

EU-level measures such as the directive on Advance Passenger Information (API), the Schengen Information System (SIS) and the second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) do not enable law enforcement authorities to identify “unknown” suspects in the way that an analysis of PNR data can.

The use of PNR data is not currently regulated at EU level. Some member states already have a PNR system (e.g. the UK), while others have either enacted legislation or are currently testing PNR data systems. Most EU countries use PNR data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime in a non-systematic way or under general powers granted to the police.

Ireland does not at present use PNR data for security and law enforcement purposes.  We do not have a system for gathering PNR data from airlines. This will change when agreement is reached at EU level on a Directive which sets out an EU framework for PNR.

A 2011 proposal for a EU wide framework for PNR was narrowly rejected by the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament in 2013. MEPs voting against in committee questioned the proportionality of the proposed EU scheme for the collection, use and retention of airline passengers’ data (irrespective of whether or not they are suspects) and its compliance with fundamental rights, especially data protection, while those voting in favour highlighted its potential added value for EU counter-terrorism policy, underlining that a EU framework would be better than a patchwork of differing national systems.

Negotiations were delayed by the elections of last year and the proposal failed to progress. Debate on the proposal has gained momentum due to concerns over possible threats to the EU’s internal security posed by Europeans returning home after fighting abroad for terrorist groups. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium, this proposal is again under the spotlight.

In  February 2015, I voted on a resolution on anti-terrorism measures, saying the EU institutions should commit to finalising an EU PNR Directive by the end of the year.

A new draft text on an EU system for the use of Passenger Name Record was discussed in the Civil Liberties Committee later that month.

An evaluation of the necessity and proportionality of the proposal in the face of current security threats, its scope (list of offences covered), retention periods, the inclusion or exclusion of intra-EU flights, the connection with the on-going data protection reform, as well as the consequences of the EU Court of Justice judgement annulling the 2006 data retention directive, were among the issues discussed by MEPs.

The new proposals in the revised draft report include:

  • the scope of the proposal is narrowed to cover terror offences and serious “transnational” crime (the list of specific offences includes, for instance, trafficking in human beings, child pornography, trafficking in weapons, munitions and explosives),
  • sensitive data to be permanently deleted no later than 30 days from the last receipt of PNR containing such data by competent authorities. Other data will continue to be masked after 30 days,
  • the inclusion of intra-EU flights (not initially included by the Commission, but the Council of the European Union favours the inclusion of internal EU flights),
  • 100% coverage of flights (the Commission text proposed to reach 100% coverage of international flights in gradual steps),
  • access to the PNR data continues to be allowed for five years for terrorism, but is reduced to four years for serious crime,
  • each EU member state should appoint a data protection supervisory officer,
  • persons who operate security controls, who access and analyse the PNR data, and operate the data logs, must be security cleared, and security trained,
  • references are made in the text to the EU Court of Justice judgment on data retention and to the current EU data protection rules, and
  • the period for member states to transpose the directive is extended from two to three years (given the specific technological and structural demands of setting up an EU PNR system for each member state).

I support the new proposals as they strike a good balance between supporting law enforcement in the fight against serious crime and terrorism while at the same time providing reassurance to citizens as to their privacy and data protection rights.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has been in constant contact with me on this issue and has left me in no doubt that Ireland has consistently supported the proposed Directive.

Information provided to Irish authorities by partner States that already make use of PNR data demonstrate that this is a tool of proven value to police and security services in combating serious crime and terrorism. Given that PNR data is currently shared by EU Member States (including Ireland) with Australia, Canada and the US, it is an increasingly untenable proposition to hold that EU Member States cannot share it among themselves within an EU framework.

The European Parliament has deliberated on this issue since 2011. It cannot delay on a vital tool in the fight against terrorism for much longer. We must give police and security services across the EU the help they need to keep us safe.

Hayes Calls for a Dementia Friendly Community Project in Dublin

Fine Gael MEP for Dublin, Brian Hayes, has today (Tuesday) called for the establishment of a community based Dementia Friendly Community in the Capital. There are seven communities involved in such initiative nationwide (Co Wicklow, Co Donegal, Galway city, Ballina/Killaloe in Co Clare, Mallow in Co Cork, Callan in Co Kilkenny and Cavan town) but none in Dublin. Brian Hayes made the call in to raise awareness about the challenges faced by those living with dementia and to fight the stigma associated with dementia and Alzheimers.

“12,498 people with dementia live in Dublin- a number set to treble in a generation. Like all of us, people living with dementia want to socialise, shop and use local facilities. In reality they often avoid these activities because of a fear of how people will react to their condition, or their ability to cope. We need to build awareness and understanding of dementia at every level of society and create communities where a diagnosis of dementia no longer means social isolation.”

“A pioneering project is underway in Wicklow called Dementia Friendly Communities project. A series of informative workshops, delivered across the county aimed at educating retailers about the provision of an understanding service to people living with dementia, has greatly enhanced the shopping experience for people with dementia in Wicklow. Because of their Dementia Friendly Communities project Wicklow is fast becoming a dementia-friendly place. Dublin, and the 12,498 people living with dementia in our county, really needs an initiative like this.”

“There are some very simple but extremely effective things retailers and business owners can do, such as bringing a person living with dementia to a quiet place to speak, make sure you have a seat available to customers, not fussing if a person get confused, giving time to think and not offering too many choices.”

“I was delighted to see the Government bring forward the National Dementia Strategy in December last year. But you cannot legislate for inclusion and fighting stigma. Local communities have a role to play.”

“A Dublin based Community initiative, involving local chambers of commerce, councils and community groups should aim to increase awareness of dementia. Simply said a community based scheme could help neighbours, friends, everyday service providers as well as health and social care workers, support people with dementia to live well for as long as possible.”