Published in the Irish Independent on 8th May 2017
Brexit cliff edge is a real risk we must prepare for – Hayes
WTO tariffs would have a disastrous impact on Irish exporters
Brian Hayes MEP today said the worst-case scenario outcome from Brexit would mean disastrous WTO tariffs for Irish exporters.
“Given the week we’ve just had where the back and forth between EU and UK sides has almost reached boiling point, the Irish government needs to be prepared for the possibility of a worst-case scenario Brexit.
“Effectively, the worst-case scenario means that the EU and UK don’t come to any agreement, there is a cliff edge effect and WTO tariffs go up between the EU and the UK immediately. While I still consider this outcome unlikely, we saw that through the exchanges between Prime Minister May and EU leaders that the negotiations can get ugly fast.
“This is why the government needs to start working on contingency plans in the event that Irish exporters to the UK are suddenly hit with WTO tariffs after Brexit.
“Contingency planning also needs to be part of the EU’s response to Brexit. The EU needs to set up a Brexit globalisation fund for all sectors that will be badly affected in the event of a hard Brexit; this is not only important for Ireland but also other countries that have strong trading relationships with the UK.
“Equally, we need to strengthen our partnerships with these countries that have deep economic ties with the UK; countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Luxembourg will also be badly affected by a hard Brexit.
“The implications are huge for various Irish business sectors, particularly agri-food, dairy and clothing. Under the EU’s external trading arrangements with WTO countries, dairy products are subject to an average bound tariff of 35.5%; animal products are subject to an average bound tariff of 16.9%; clothing products are subject to an average bound tariff of 11.5%.
“At the moment the government is working on the basis of a soft Brexit. But we cannot be complacent about the dangers that lie ahead in these talks. Both sides already have different expectations about how the process will play out.
“The effect of the UK moving to WTO rules would be tariffs on UK exports to the EU. It is only logical that the UK would impose a reciprocal arrangement to EU imports to the UK.
“Think of the impact that such high tariffs could have on our agri-food sector that represents 7% of our GDP and around 150,000 jobs. 47% of all our agri-food and drink exports went to the UK in 2015.
“It would also be a disaster for our imports – Ireland imported more than £3 billion worth of food and drink goods from the UK in 2014.
“Theresa May has consistently trotted out the ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ slogan. Yet, the UK government doesn’t seem to understand the full whack that this could have on the UK and its main trading partners in the EU.”
|EU average External Tariffs under WTO rules|
|Fruit, vegetables, plants||9.9|
|Cereals & preparations||15.7|
|Oilseeds, fats & oils||6.0|
|Sugars and confectionery||20.6|
|Beverages & tobacco||19.0|
|Other agricultural products||3.1|
|Fish & fish products||11.0|
|Minerals & metals||2.0|
|Wood, paper, etc.||0.9|
|Leather, footwear, etc.||4.2|
The Macron victory is a victory for peace and prosperity in the EU – Hayes
Fine Gael Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes, tonight welcomed the convincing victory of Emmanuel Macron as the new President of France.
“Its a beacon of hope against the narrow nationalism of Trump and Brexit. It’s a beacon of hope for a new Europe in the post Brexit world.”
“The politics of the French populists have been roundly defeated as they have in other EU Member States. This year, 2017 is a new year of hope for Europe. In Austria and in the Netherlands the populists have shown that they are now on the retreat – they have no solutions. They have nothing to offer but fear and recrimination.”
“The election of Macron must focus minds within Europe about what we need to do. We need to provide hope and prosperity to a generation of Europeans who want the EU to do much more. The election of Macron brings with it a chance for a fresh start for the EU. It’s an election for peace and prosperity – an election for the future of Europe.”
“The renewal of France is inextricably linked to the renewal of Europe. We need to work together both as an EU Parliament and as a new French presidency.”
Irish Judges well trained in EU law but there is room
for improvement – Hayes
MEP Brian Hayes has today said that although Ireland is currently a leader in the training of its judges on EU law, it is crucial that we continue to make progress.
“According to the Commissions’ 2016 report on judicial training, the percentage of Irish judges trained in EU law is around 55%, ranking Ireland 5th place across the EU. The EU average is 28%, so clearly the Irish judiciary and the Irish courts service have made significant progress. But we should not sit back and assume that everything is perfect or that across the various courts in the country that the knowledge of and understanding of EU law is evenly understood.
“For example, the Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals programme known as ‘HELP’ which serves as the Council of Europe’s platform for the judicial education of legal professionals on the ECHR and fundamental rights is not being utilised. So far, it has received €1.6 million in EU funding for its ‘HELP in the 28’ programme which has already benefited 16 member states. Ireland, however, remains one of the 12 EU countries that have not availed of the plan due to the limited budget of the Council of Europe. If the Commission is to reach its stated goal of engaging half of all legal professionals in EU judicial training by 2020, then further financial support on its part is required.
“Ireland must also further integrate itself within the objectives of the European Judicial Training Network. The EJTN maintains that the responsibility of funding EU legal training institutions falls to national governments and so if we are to integrate and expand EU legal competence among judges further, the Irish government must be willing to contribute in turn. In Ireland’s case this would mean further contributions to the Committee for Judicial Studies which this year will operate on a budget of €300,000 for all of its training activities. The EU legal ‘training’ it provides to judges is normally in the form of seminars, however, which raises separate questions about how extensive and practical it is in reality.
“Moreover, it is vital that if such training is to be applicable down the road, we must ensure that it becomes a continuous endeavour, not a once off novelty. To achieve our goals we must promote the idea that being trained and up to date on EU legislation is a responsibility among judges in all levels of the courts.
“If progress slows or stalls on this front we may expect to see further injustices such as the recent home repossession rulings whereby circuit court judges neglected to apply relevant EU human rights legislation due to lack of training in EU law. This case sheds a worrying light on the disparities of EU legal knowledge within the different courts. When I asked the courts service for a breakdown on judges trained per court jurisdiction I was told that such information was not available.
“Having judges on all levels trained on the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU charter on Fundamental Rights would be an invaluable asset for the protection of Irish citizens. Moreover, across Europe issues around xenophobia, radicalization and data protection are proving detrimental to fundamental rights. For this reason we need mutual trust in legal systems and a common judicial culture across the EU where personal rights and freedoms are protected at local and European level. Ireland has the opportunity to spearhead this effort and to strengthen the integrity of her judiciary while setting an example for other states along the way.
Government should accept new EU VAT rules on E-publications – Hayes
Cost of electronic schoolbooks, E-books and online newspapers can become significantly cheaper
Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Thursday) called on the Government to reduce the VAT on electronic schoolbooks, E-books and online newspapers. The Dublin MEP was speaking after the European Parliament’s Economics Committee, of which he is a member, voted to change EU VAT law. The new rules will now give Member States the option to apply 0% VAT to e-books and electronic newspapers.
“Currently, any E-publications must be taxed as the standard VAT rate of the Member State. In Ireland, this rate is 23%. The new rules means that the Government will soon have the option to reduce VAT on all electronic books including schoolbooks and online newspapers. This will bring the publications in line with their printed equivalent.”
“I welcome the outcome of today’s decision. It makes no sense to apply a double standard whereby a newspaper online is taxed higher than a printed one you buy in the shops. This new rules will make it easier for authors, publishers and booksellers to make full use of this new way of reaching the public.”
“I believe the Government should accept the new rules and introduce the reduced VAT rate in October’s budget. The decision to amend the VAT rules for e-publications is part of the commitments made by the European Commission in the Digital Single Market Strategy,” concluded MEP Hayes.