Brian Hayes MEP

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40% of Irish Cross border treatments carried out in Northern Ireland in 2016

40% of Irish Cross border treatments carried out in Northern Ireland in 2016

Early clarification needed on Irish Citizens health rights post Brexit

Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Tuesday) said that the Government needs to seek clarification at an early stage of the Brexit negotiations on Irish citizens EU healthcare rights. The Fine Gael MEP made the call following confirmation he received from the HSE that 692 Irish citizens availed of treatment under the EU cross border healthcare directive in Northern Ireland last year. This accounts for 40% of the total cross border applications.

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“Under the EU Cross Border Healthcare Directive, Irish citizens are entitled to receive medical treatment in other EU Member States with the costs reimbursed by the HSE.  In 2016, 1,738 procedures were carried out in other EU Member States at a cost of over €2 million. 40% of these were for treatment in Northern Ireland.

“The Government needs to seek clarification on this right post Brexit. The Directive does not cover the cost of travel so for Irish citizens; treatment in Northern Ireland is really the only cost effective option. Ireland is at a significant disadvantage as compared to other EU countries such as France whose citizens can easily access Belgium, Netherlands or Germany.”

“I firmly believe in order to protect this EU right for Irish Citizens; treatment in Northern Ireland should continue to be eligible after the UK leaves the EU. Since the Directive came into force in June 2014 the number of applications have increased significantly. In 2015, 995 treatments were carried out compared to 1,738 last year.

If the option of treatment in Northern Ireland was removed, this EU right would be diminished enormously for Irish citizens,” concluded MEP Hayes.

MEP seeks post-Brexit NI health cover plan

Published in the Irish Times on 28th February 2017

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Slapping the British with an EU demand for €60 billion Brexit bill is unrealistic – Hayes

Slapping the British with an EU demand for 60 billion Brexit bill is unrealistic – Hayes

The history of the British contribution to the EU Budget has been toxic and an early standoff could wreck the Brexit negotiations before they start. Remembering what Prime Minister May has said that no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK, it is not in Ireland’s interest for an acrimonious and incomplete settlement, said Brian Hayes MEP.

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“The European Commission argues that the U.K. will have to settle a bill of €60 billion worth of charges when it leaves the EU. The UK will contest this amount strongly. It’s crucial that the final amount needs to be fair and realistic for both sides.

“The first thing to be negotiated after Article 50 is triggered is the settlement of costs for the U.K. leaving the EU. Michel Barnier has said that this part of the negotiation could last until December, emphasising just how difficult this issue will be.

“The EU side, through Barnier, has already shot its opening gambit of a €60 billion bill which, frankly, is totally unrealistic. It is clear that the UK will have to pay a substantial bill but there needs to be fairness. The Commission could be setting the stage for a very dangerous stand-off and Ireland stands to lose if the talks simply fail at the first hurdle.

“Most of the Brexit bill will consist of unpaid EU budget appropriations. Because the EU budget is decided on a multiannual basis, the Commission believes that the UK must honour all the payments it committed to the budget even after it has left the EU. The Commission’s argument is that, under EU law, the UK entered into legally binding financial allocations that it must honour whether it’s in or out of the EU. This means that the UK could still be paying for structural funds in favour of other EU Member States up to 2023.

“It does not seem to make any sense that, post-Brexit, we would ask the UK to continue paying budgetary contributions as if it were still an EU Member. There needs to be fairness in these negotiations and also a recognition that the UK pay over 10% of the total EU Budget. As long as the UK is a member of the EU it should pay its budget commitments as normal, but it should not be bound to financial commitments after it has left.

“The other big part of the Brexit bill will be the pension bill for EU civil servants. The liability for pension benefits for EU civil servants stands at €63.8 billion. Mr. Barnier’s interpretation is that the UK has to pay its relative share of this bill. Based on the UK’s average contribution to the EU budget, they would have to pay 12% of the EU pension bill, or €7.7 billion.

“Of course, the €60 billion figure is an upper estimate of what the final bill will be. But the political reality is that a great deal of Member States will support this €60 billion figure. For net recipients, that €60 billion represents future structural funds that they were already promised and for net contributors, it means the less they will have to cough up to cover the UK’s expenses.

“Given the history of this issue in the UK and the short time span for the divorce negotiation, the Commission should be very careful as a Mexican standoff could occur which helps no one. Equally if there is no agreement, the British will simply stop paying and their share can only be matched by more financial contributions from existing contributor Member States, including Ireland, or a drastic cut in the EU budget.”

How the €60 billion is calculated:

Liabilities EU amount (end 2018) UK Share (15%)
Unpaid commitments until 2019 €241 bn €36.2 bn
Outstanding allocations after 2019 – cohesion funds €113 bn €17 bn
Outstanding allocations after 2019 – rural/fisheries funds €30.4 bn € 4.6 bn
EU pension liabilities €63.8 bn €9.6 bn
Connecting Europe facility €10.1 bn €1.5 bn
EFSI capital €16 bn €2.4 bn
European Development Fund €1.7 bn
Copernicus Programme €2.9 bn €0.4 bn
Total liabilities: €477.2 €73.3

 

Offset payments    
EU Assets €22.5 bn €3.4 bn
Receipts for UK projects (approx) €9 bn €9 bn
NET TOTAL   €60.9 billion

Demands for UK to pay €60bn Brexit bill”unrealistic”

Published in the Irish Times on Saturday 25th February 2017

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Ireland’s inadequate water infrastructure comes under renewed pressure from European Commission as court case looms

Ireland’s inadequate water infrastructure comes under renewed pressure from European Commission as court case looms

European Commission takes Ireland to Court for failure to adequately collect and treat urban waste water

The European Commission is taking Ireland to the European Court of Justice for its failure to ensure that urban waste water in 38 towns across the country is adequately collected and treated to prevent serious risks to human health and the environment.

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This throws another spotlight on Ireland’s sub-standard water infrastructure and the lack of clarity around who is going to pay for the investment necessary to bring it up to the required standard, said Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes.

“Under EU law, towns and cities are required to collect and treat their urban waste water, as untreated waste water can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil, coastal and groundwater.

“The European Commission has identified 38 areas around the country with inadequate wastewater infrastructure. They are: Arklow, Athlone, Ballybofey/Stranorlar, Ballincollig New, Castlecomer, Cavan, Clifden, Clonakily, Cobh, Cork City, Dundalk, Enfield, Enniscorthy, Fermoy, Gaoth Dobhair, Killarney, Killybegs, Longford, Mallow, Midleton, Monksland, Navan, Nenagh, Oberstown, Pasage/Monktown, Portarlington, Rathcormac, Ringaskiddy, Ringsend, Roscommon Town, Roscrea, Shannon Town, Thurles, Tralee, Tubbercurry, Youghal and Waterford City.

“There are also additional concerns about the failure to ensure that a correct operating licence has been issued for treatment plants at Arklow and Castlebridge,” Mr. Hayes added.

“According to a recent Commission report on the implementation of EU environmental policy and law in Member States, one of the main challenges we in Ireland are facing is maintaining the important investments required for water services, given the urgent need for investment in water infrastructure.

“As it stands, our water system is not fit for purpose. The EPA did a study in 2011 that showed that only about 50% of Ireland’s surface water bodies meet the Water Framework Directive’s criteria for high or good status. The 2004 Drinking Water report found that 16% of the population was served by at-risk supplies. Irish Water has committed to investing €5.5 billion over 7 years to bring our water infrastructure to acceptable levels.

“This legal action increases the pressure on the Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Water Services – which is due to make its recommendation on the future of domestic charge by the end of March – to do so, definitively and without any delay.”

Brexit to take up to 10 years

Published in the Irish Examiner, 22nd February 2017

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Brexit negotiation will be a trilogy – Divorce, Transition and Future Relationship

Brexit negotiation will be a trilogy – Divorce, Transition and Future Relationship

“It could take up to 10 years to conclude” – Hayes

Fine Gael MEP for Dublin, Brian Hayes, said today that people need to realise that the Brexit negotiations will be a marathon and not a sprint.

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“It’s now clear from the team around Michel Barnier that Brexit could take anything from 6 to 10 years to conclude. It will be the most complicated and protracted negotiation ever within the EU. In Ireland we need to be prepared and ready for a situation that will involve a number of different governments, various Taoisigh and an enormous amount of political and diplomatic effort. This is not one negotiation, but more like three sets of negotiations: divorce proceedings, transition arrangement and future relationship.

“Once Article 50 is triggered in March there is just two years to conclude the divorce proceedings between the EU and the UK. The decision to conclude the final exit deal will be done by Qualified Majority Voting (QMV), which means that no one Member State can hold it up. The decision must also be ratified by a simple majority of the European Parliament which can be no later than February 2019.

“Given that both Parliament and Council have to issue guidelines for the negotiation after the triggering of article 50, the entire negotiation on the terms of Britain’s exit can only really happen between the summer of this year 2017 and January 2019 – effectively 18 months.

“The divorce settlement will focus on who owes who money. Given the fact that around 10% of the EU budget comes from the UK, the terms of the exit could be very costly from the UK’s perspective as existing EU budget commitments stand. Despite what some politicians have said so far, this phase will also be about defining the structure of UK’s future relationship with the EU – to what extent will the UK have single market access? Will they be part of the Customs Union? Will they be bound be ECJ decisions? Equally the issue rights of EU citizens in the UK and the rights of UK citizens in the EU will have to be resolved.

“After the first phase and assuming there is a deal by March 2019, comes the next phase – a transition arrangement. We must do our best to ensure that during this phase that minimal change from a regulatory or tariff position takes place. But this phase could last between two and four years.

“Finally we have the end phase or the negotiation on the future EU-UK relationship – most likely a new Free Trade Agreement putting the final Brexit deal into practice. This will really go into the nuts and bolts of how goods and services will be traded between the UK and the EU going forward. By any measure of previous trade agreements, this could be a long-drawn out process. There will be potential problems around cherry-picking and what level of compliance there will be with EU regulations. What is clear is that a Free Trade Agreement with the UK can only be formalised once the UK has left, or once divorce proceedings have concluded. And crucially it will be a mixed trade agreement which must be adopted by all 27 Member States and will not be done on the basis of QMV. If one of the 27 said No, then the final agreement could not come into force.

“All phases of this negotiation will be subject to legal challenge and ultimate determination in the courts. What’s clear is that the only possible referendum that could take place in Ireland, if the Oireachtas decided, is at the end of the process rather than the start of it. We are definitely in for long wait to see the final terms of Brexit. The entire political system needs to be aware of this challenge for the next decade.”