Joint investigation underway on French leaseback scam – Hayes
Irish owners of French leaseback properties have presented a case for mis-selling to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in Dublin.
“The initial response received back from the CCPC shows that there are clear grounds for an investigation,” said Brian Hayes MEP.
“The CCPC has been in contact with the French consumer protection authority (‘DGCCRF’), which has committed to undertake investigations and appropriate enforcement actions during 2017 in relation to the alleged unfair commercial practices,
“Existing EU consumer protection legislation is in place which protects consumers from mis-selling even on a cross-border basis.
“I have been working on behalf of over 300 Irish people who purchased properties in France leaseback properties from 2005 onwards. These properties were advertised across a number of Irish national media guaranteeing a rental income. The French banks granted mortgages to the Irish purchasers, despite this false and misleading information used in advertising and contracts. The ‘guaranteed’ regular rental income never transpired and many of the properties halved in value.
“I have stated consistently that these people have been victims of a scam and find the CCPC’s response to their claims encouraging.
“I have also been actively pushing this issue in the European Parliament and have taken the issue up with my MEP colleague Vicky Ford, who is Chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. She has since written a letter to the European Commissioner responsible for this issue, Vera Jourova, urging the Commission to take further action to ensure that these consumers are treated fairly.
“It is vital that the Irish authorities play a full role in these investigations. French property law is vastly different to Irish law and heretofore, the Irish people affected say they have been stone-walled by the French authorities. The CCPC has assisted in securing a very important first step in having this matter properly investigated, but I will be working closely alongside them to ensure Irish people are robustly represented on this.”
Hayes encourages Dublin Local Authorities to be first in line for EU free WIFI initiative
New EU Free Wi-Fi initiative to begin this Summer
Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Thursday) called on the four Dublin Local Authorities to apply for the new EU free WIFI initiative. Speaking in the European Parliament in Brussels the Dublin MEP said that the initiative known as “WIFI4EU” will be given the green light shortly by the Parliament with the applications process opening for local authorities in mid-Summer.
“I am very pleased that plans by the EU to invest in thousands of public Wi-Fi access points across the EU will begin this Summer. A total of €120 million will be provided for the initial role out.”
“The programme will allow Local Authorities such as Dublin City Council, South Dublin County Council, Fingal County Council and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council apply for funding to equip parks, public buildings and village squares with high quality Wi-Fi access.”
“Role out of the initiative will be on a first come first served basis. It is a great opportunity for the four local authorities in Dublin to provide a service to Dublin citizens. I strongly support the initiative and hope the Dublin authorities will apply to participate,” concluded MEP Hayes
Use proceeds of AIB sale to pay off National Debt and provide Pensions – Hayes
Brian Hayes MEP today said that the proceeds from the sale or partial sale of AIB should be used for Ireland’s long-term financing and pension needs.
He said: “The sale of AIB cannot be a green light for the government to ramp up current expenditure; the temptation to splurge this cash on short-term expenditure needs must be resisted at all costs. The original money that saved the banks costing the Irish taxpayers €64 billion came from ‘piggy bank money’ that was saved through the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF).”
Mr Hayes said that “the two main priorities for these funds should be on reducing our national debt, putting cash aside for future pension needs and by extension building up a cash buffer in case of future economic shocks. Anything else would be irresponsible and not good for our international reputation.
“We must not forget that €16 billion or 80% of the €20.7 billion that the State injected into AIB came from the National Pension Reserve Fund. That money should be returned.
“The funds are now owed to Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund (successor to NPRF) who has a different mandate to the NPRF with more of a focus on investment and employment. But there is a pension time bomb coming down the tracks that we need to face up to. We currently have one pensioner for every four workers; by 2060 there will be one pensioner for every two workers according to CSO projections. We need to start preparing for the huge impact pension provision will have on the State’s long-term financing needs. Putting money aside now makes sense.
“Given the result of the first round of the French presidential elections, market conditions are now looking favourable for the AIB stock market flotation. A partial sale of the government’s stake in the bank before summer would be good news for Irish taxpayers.
“Irish politics isn’t good at long-term thinking. However, it is key that we have a long-term vision for the proceeds of the AIB sale. And what is important is getting our public finances into a strong position.
“We can’t achieve a strong public finance position without getting our national debt down. It’s still too high and its cost remains a worrying and persistent issue.
“If we do not reduce our national debt to manageable levels, it will cripple us for decades to come. While the good news is that we have reduced our debt to GDP ratio from 123% in 2013 to the current level of 75.4%, the size of our debt stockpile is way too large. The general government debt is currently over €200 billion.
“Additionally, we have to repay about €45 billion worth of debt between 2018 and 2020. We need to get our public finances into a better position before these sudden debt repayments hit.
“The Department of Finance recently made it a priority to get our debt to GDP ratio down to 45% by the mid-2020s. This is the correct course of action; we do not want to remain a heavily indebted country. The EU fiscal rules state that debt to GDP ratio should be lower than 60% but we should look to go lower than this.”
Published in the Irish Times on Wednesday 26th April 2017
Forging strong Brexit alliances is crucial for Ireland – Hayes
Brian Hayes MEP today (Friday) welcomed Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s meeting with the Dutch and Danish Prime Ministers on Brexit issues and said that forging strong Brexit alliances will be crucial to Ireland’s success in the negotiations.
Mr Hayes is in The Hague attending the 15th Norbert Schmelzer lecture, organised by the CDA, a Dutch sister party of Fine Gael, at which the Taoiseach is keynote speaker.
“Ireland is not the only Member State of the EU effected by Brexit. Countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Luxembourg have deep economic ties, as we do, with the UK.”
“What will be absolutely crucial is how we engage with small like-minded Member States. Brexit represents a high stakes diplomatic battle and a lot will depend on how strong our alliances are with the likes of the Baltics, the Nordics and the Benelux countries. They have been echoing similar messages in calling for a soft Brexit. That is why today’s engagement between the Taoiseach and his Dutch and Danish counterparts is so important – it is an opportunity to align our priorities at the highest level.
“We know that there will be Member States who want to punish the UK, especially given that the British government is taking a hard Brexit line. There needs to be a strong counter balance to this view and Ireland should take a leading role in rallying against this harmful course of action.
“By associating ourselves more closely with certain countries or blocs we can always get more out of negotiations on European policy. Ireland’s representatives in Brussels need to play a smart diplomatic game on Brexit in the coming months – we need to solidify partnerships with these like-minded Member States and make sure we are on the same page.
“There’s no doubt that those Member States that want to play hardball with the UK will be forming their own alliances. We have to get ahead of the curve.”
Over 50,000 fewer people will vote in next European Election because of Brexit – Hayes
Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Sunday) said that 50,000 fewer people will be able vote in the next European election in Ireland because of Brexit.
“If the UK are to leave the EU within the 2 year timeframe they will not contest the next European Elections scheduled for May 2019. This means that 53,562 UK citizens who are registered to vote in Ireland will be unable to vote in that election.”
“Currently any EU citizen living in Ireland can register to vote in a European election at their Irish address. For example, a Spanish citizen living in Dublin City can register to vote in the Dublin constituency. The same applies to any Irish citizen living in another EU Member State. However, when the UK ceases to be a member of the EU, their citizens living across the EU will no longer be eligible to vote.”
“This will have a significant impact on the register of electors for the 2019 European election. There are currently 12,640 UK citizens registered to vote in the Dublin constituency, 18,455 registered in the Midlands/Northwest constituency and 22,467 registered in the South constituency. In total 53,562 fewer people will be able to vote.”
“UK citizens registered in Ireland will continue to be able to vote in both Local Authority and Dail Elections,” concluded MEP Hayes