Brian Hayes MEP

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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Dublin Investment Opportunities Must be Seized – Hayes

Over €850million of new lending to Ireland in 2014 was outlined in a meeting between Fine Gael MEPs and the European Investment Bank this week.

“The potential of new lending for Dublin and Ireland must be seized as the country recovers from the crash.” That’s the view of Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes, who this week met with the President of the EIB and other FG MEPs.

“Against a background of a 20% reduction in investment over the past 5 years and where the country could not borrow on the international money markets, Ireland must now use the opportunities of new lending from the EIB.”

“The EIB loans money to governments for good projects. We need a pipeline of sustainable and well financed projects across Dublin from social housing to transport to flood protection. “

“In my discussions with the EIB, which is already involved in both the LUAS Inter Connector and Grange Gorman projects in Dublin, I stressed the need to bring on other projects in our capital city.”

“The new President of the Commission, President Juncker, has already asked the European Council and the EIB to bring forward new projects up to a value of €300billion. This is all new investment and it is badly needed across Europe and especially in Ireland.”

“In 2010 the total amount of new lending from the EIB to Ireland was €210million, this year new lending stands at €850million. Each year the country recovers the greater the amount of new lending from the EIB. In the past EIB lending to Ireland was principally in roads and buildings, now we have a diversity of lending from schools, universities, research to SME lending. It’s a partnership that is working and a partnership that leads to new jobs and investment. “

European Commissioner Hearings – The Process Explained

Article by Brian Hayes MEP which appeared on The Journal on 29th September 2014

flags-of-the-eu-member-countriesTODAY WILL SEE see the first of the 27 European Commissioners-designate going before the committees of the European Parliament, but what can we expect to happen?

Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Junker announced the allocation of portfolios amongst his potential College of Commissioners in early September. Despite some assuming that this was the end of the process, it was only the beginning.

Ireland secured a nomination to the wide ranging portfolio of Agriculture and Rural Affairs with Phil Hogan. Taoiseach Enda Kenny deserves credit for helping to secure this nomination.

But crucially because the Irish economy has been turned around our reputation in Europe has dramatically improved. Getting one of the big jobs in the Commission is a good example of how far the country has travelled since the bailout and the troika.

The next 10 days are a critical time for the next five years of the European Union. As the possible future “Junker Commission” goes before us here in Parliament we will test and examine their policies and positions. During their five year term they will promote and protect the interests of the EU as a whole.

Once in office they must not work for the interest of their home State and the collective will be their priority. As Commissioners they will also have collective responsibility – like our own Cabinet system in Ireland. This means that it is vital that we, as elected MEPs and the representative of you the citizen, rigorously examine their strengths and weaknesses for the job.

Commissioners-designate will be given five written questions in advance of their committee hearings to facilitate their answers being translated into the languages of the EU.

Two of these will be common to all Commissioners-designate and will cover competence and knowledge of portfolio / cooperation with parliament. The remaining three questions will be committee specific. Where more than one committee is involved in a hearing, they may submit two written questions per committee. Phil Hogan will have five written questions from the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

In contrast, Vĕra Jourová, the Czech Commissioner-designate for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality will have four “responsible committees” examining her capabilities; Internal Market and Consumer Protection; Legal Affairs; Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.

The hearing for each Commissioner-designate are listed to last for three hours each and are an intensive interview process with experienced politician from all over the EU putting them through their paces.

This however will be nothing new to the interviewees who include 5 former Prime Ministers, 4 Deputy Prime Ministers, 19 former Ministers, 7 returning Commissioners and 8 former Members of the European Parliament.

In my committee, ECON  all five relevant Commissioners-designate will have to attend. These include Finland’s Jyrki Katainen a potential Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness and Britain’s Jonathan Hill, the Commissioner-designate for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Union. Jonathan Hill’s portfolio will be of significant importance to the thousands of Dubliners employed in Financial Services.

Phil Hogan will go before the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee this Thursday at 9am and will begin his hearing with a 15-minute speech followed by questions from the full 45 member committee, including Mairead McGuinness from Fine Gael and other Irish MEPs. We will have to see if MEPs genuinely use the hearings to test the competence of commissioners or just attempt cheap political point scoring.

Once the questions have been put and the answers given, each committee will have 24 hours to finalise its evaluation, while it can ask for further written information, the face to face questioning is over.

An evaluation report on each Commissioner-designate is then sent to the Conference of Committee Chairs and the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament. They can then declare if the hearings are closed or seek further information.

While the European Parliament committees can question individual Commissioners-designate, the parliament itself must vote on the entire slate of commissioners and either accept or reject the Junker Commission en-mass.

This vote will take place on 22 October and the magic number is 376, which is a simple majority of the 751 strong Parliament.

The published article is available here

Hayes Calls for a Special EU Ambassador to deal with Ebola Crisis

Fine Gael MEP for Dublin and member of the European Parliament`s Development Committee, Brian Hayes has today (Friday) said that the EU needs to respond to the Ebola crisis in a similar way to the USA.

“Almost 3,000 people have died as a result of the Ebola outbreak. To date the epidemic has been confined to Africa. Many experts have warned that unless we take further steps to fight the epidemic these figures could be significantly worse. President Obama recognises this threat by sending thousands of troops to the affected areas to assist in the building of healthcare facilities.” said Mr Hayes

“I am calling on Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative to immediately appoint a special Ambassador to co-ordinate the EU response in Ebola affected countries in tandem with the USA.”

“Humanitarian crises are complex and require practical planning. Financial support is vital but equally important is manpower and co-ordination on the ground. By combining resources with the USA the badly needed logistical support can be provided to help fight the Ebola outbreak” concluded Mr Hayes.

Hayes questions ECB on purchasing of tracker mortgages

Brian Hayes MEP questioned ECB President Mario Draghi yesterday regarding the prospect of the ECB purchasing tracker mortgages from Irish banks in its recently announced Asset-backed securities (ABS) purchasing programme.

“Mr. Draghi has said that the ECB intends to purchase residential mortgage based securities. It remains to be seen whether this will include tracker mortgages but the ECB governing council will deliberate on this at one of their upcoming meetings,” said the Dublin MEP.

“Three domestic Irish banks — Bank of Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB — have just under €50bn of tracker mortgages sitting on their balance sheets.”

“The real problem with tracker mortgages is that their existence is effectively holding back the Irish retail banking sector. They represent a very large proportion of total mortgages. But the question has to be asked, if they can be used as collateral by the ECB, do they really represent a large risk to the ECB? It is really a question of scale. Frankly the bigger task for the ECB and the Irish banking sector must be on lending and investing in the real economy,” said Mr. Hayes.

The ECB will buy senior tranches of mortgage backed securities in the ABS programme which are considered less risky. If the ECB were to buy riskier securities such as tracker mortgages, they may need a government guarantee.

“The ECB will have to consider the issue in light of the developments in the Irish property market with rising house prices making the trackers more attractive,” added Mr. Hayes.

“It could be an important boost to economic growth if Irish banks were able to clear many of these tracker mortgages from their balance sheets as the cost of funding these trackers is very high compared to the returns.”

Further details of the ECB’s Asset-backed securities purchasing programme will be known after the next ECB meeting on October 2nd.

Hayes raises Trichet banking inquiry appearance with Mario Draghi

“ECB President Mario Draghi today said that the prospect of former ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet appearing at the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry Committee will be reflected on by the ECB Governing Council and discussed at their next meeting,” said MEP Brian Hayes.

The Dublin MEP raised the question of Trichet’s appearance at the Banking Inquiry Committee to Mr. Draghi at an Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee meeting in the European Parliament today.

“In the interest of transparency and accountability, it is of crucial importance that the ECB cooperates with the Banking Inquiry since the ECB had a significant influence over responses to the crisis in Ireland. Given that Mr. Trichet was a public official at the head of the ECB at the time of the banking crisis, the Committee should be entitled to hear his account of the decisions that were taken in the wake of exceptional economic difficulties,” Mr. Hayes added.

Mr. Draghi commented that he could not give a personal view on the matter and that it is an issue for the ECB governing council to deliberate over at their next meeting in October.

The Banking Inquiry Committee was set up to investigate the banking crisis, particularly relating to the bank guarantee and the Troika bailout. The Committee will conduct hearings with several figures that held senior positions during the banking crisis.

“I welcome Mr. Draghi’s comments and hope that the ECB governing council will consider the matter based on the fact that the ECB is accountable to national parliaments for the decisions they take.”

“If Mr. Trichet does not attend, the ECB should provide documentation, and where relevant, officials, as a means of helping the inquiry with their work,” said Mr. Hayes.

To view MEP Hayes’ intervention, click on the below video:

Euro 2020 Games a Great Boost for Dublin – Hayes

Dublin MEP Brian Hayes has today welcomed the decision to award four Euro 2020 games to Dublin.

Dublin will host three group games and one round of sixteen fixture in the competition, all of which will be held at the Aviva stadium.

Mr Hayes stated “This is a fantastic investment in our capital city and a great opportunity to showcase Dublin on an international stage. Dublin has the infrastructure and facilities to ensure that all four matches will be a great success.”

“This will be a significant boost for Irish tourism. International football fans will have the opportunity to see the benefits of Dublin as a sporting location.”

“Dublin has invested heavily in recent years to encourage tourism and this announcement is a further opportunity to further develop its potential as an iconic international destination.” added Mr Hayes

“I warmly congratulate the FAI, Dublin City Council and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport for all the work they have done to secure these matches,” concluded Mr Hayes

Europe needs to work with Iran to counter ISIS threat – Hayes

Speaking in the European Parliament tonight (Wednesday) Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes said that Europe needs to work with countries like Iran to counter ISIS threat.

Mr Hayes stated “We have a responsibility to work with the new Iraqi government in every way possible. ISIS represents a threat not just to Iraq but to the entire region. Clearly they will stop at nothing in fermenting their brand of fundamentalism – which is rotten to the core.”

Mr Hayes continued “Europe must be prepared to lead the international community in helping to reconstruct Iraq and also helping to defeat ISIS. Defeating ISIS must also be about defeating those brain washed young men who come from Europe and as EU citizens involve themselves as radical fighters in a part of the world they know nothing about.”

Mr Hayes further stated “I believe a new opportunity exists to forge a better relationship with Iran. Despite obvious past differences between Iran and Europe and Iran and the USA, I believe we have a common objective now in destroying ISIS and in helping the Iraqi Government in trying to rebuild their country. Iran is a key player in the region. The new President of Iran has repeatedly said that he wants to co-operate with the EU in fighting the violence and extremism of ISIS. Irans border with Iraq is over 1,700 KM. Iran has officially welcomed the formation of the government in Iraq and backs the principal of Iraqi unity as a means of stabilising security in the region.

Mr Hayes concluded “The new threat of ISIS provides an opportunity for the world and the region to work together. Europe can be a key bridge in making that happen.