Brian Hayes MEP

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EU Clean Energy Package gives Ireland a platform for a low carbon economy – Hayes

EU Clean Energy Package gives Ireland a platform for a low carbon economy – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today said that the EU’s Clean Energy Package gives Ireland the platform to optimise a mix of renewables, energy efficiency and fossil fuels to meet a low carbon future in a cost efficient way.

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“The EU’s Clean Energy Package should give us the real impetus to deliver a low carbon energy mix in a cost efficient way. One of the key proposals from the Commission is that the majority of coal subsidies will be phased out over five years. I hope that this package prompts the government to act urgently to adopt a clear plan and put a firm date on the phase out of coal. Our dependency on coal is too high at the moment. Moneypoint, the only coal-firing powerplant in Ireland, is running at high capacity and provides about 21.5% of our electricity needs.

“Phasing out coal would resolve the perverse situation of financially supporting the introduction of renewables while at the same time offsetting the emission benefits by using a heavily emitting coal plant.

“As the Climate Commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, said: ‘Europe is on the brink of a clean energy revolution’. Ireland needs to work harder if we want to be part of Europe’s clean energy revolution.

“The Smart Buildings Initiative included in the package will be a major boost for Ireland’s energy efficiency tools. This initiative which expects to mobilise €10 billion by 2020 will transform our building stock, help us meet our EU emissions targets and importantly it will create much-needed jobs all over the country.

“We need to do more to help households become more energy efficient by providing better insulation and reconditioning to ensure proper thermal efficiency.

“The government must see this package as a way to optimise a low-carbon energy mix for the future given that we can no longer depend heavily on fossil fuels. Our share of renewables has to increase and energy efficiency systems need to be strengthened so that everyone can contribute to lower carbon emissions.”

Auto-enrolment pension system should be put in law by 2020 – Hayes

Auto-enrolment pension system should be put in law by 2020 – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today said that the government needs to urgently put in place a roadmap for the introduction of a system for all Irish employees to be automatically enrolled in a workplace pension scheme.

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“There is a pension time bomb coming down the tracks, there is no doubt about that. Our pension system is going to become more and more squeezed as our population inevitably gets older. It is a very good thing that people are now living longer and that we have a healthier society. But we need to address the funding of our pension system if we want our pensioners to be well-protected into the future.

“A roadmap needs to be put in place for the introduction of an auto-enrolment system for all Irish businesses. I am calling in the government to make it an urgent priority to ensure that an auto-enrolment system is put into Irish law by 2020. I believe this can be done through cross-party agreement.

“I believe that to begin with we should have a system whereby every employee is automatically enrolled in a pension scheme to which they should contribute at least 1% of their monthly salary which is matched by their employer. This should be done with a view to increasing overall monthly pension contributions to 8% of monthly salary. Of course, employees should be given a short period of time in which they can choose to opt-out of a mandatory pension scheme.

“While there needs to be sufficient lead in time to such a policy, we have to recognise that Ireland’s pension system is still behind the curve. In 2012, the UK introduced an auto-enrolment system which is at early stages but is working well and providing long-term sustainability. Auto-enrolment systems have been introduced in Australia, New Zealand and similar systems exist in the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. These countries are recognised as world leaders in pensions.

“In Ireland we are far too dependent on our state pension system. We have a very low take up of workplace pension schemes. Less than 40% of Irish workers are covered by a workplace pension scheme. The best way to deal with both of these problems is through an auto-enrolment system which reduces dependency on the state system and ensures people have supplementary pension pots built up.

“A recent global study of pensions called the ‘Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index’ stated that Ireland’s pension system is good but has serious sustainability problems into the future. It is time that we had a real open debate about pensions in Ireland.  Politicians cannot kick the can down the road as this will inevitably come back to haunt us.”

Hayes to host EU conference on the the future of Eritrea

Hayes to host EU conference on the the future of Eritrea

Dublin MEP Brian Hayes will tomorrow (Monday) host a conference in the European Parliament on the future development of Eritrea. MEP Hayes who is a member of the European Parliament’s Development Committee will be joined in Brussels by Eritrean Minister Yemane Gebremeskel. Ambassadors and officials from a number of countries including  Ireland, the UK, Germany and Sweden will attend. The United Nations will also be represented by Ms Christine Umatoni.

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 “Todays conference is about bringing together a number of stakeholders to discuss the future development of Eritrea. I visited the country earlier this year and met with members of the Eritrean Government and Ambassadors from other EU countries who are present in Eritrea. I also had the opportunity to visit a number EU funded projects.”

“I believe by bringing everyone together for this conference, positive outcomes can be achieved. The EU and individual Member States has an important role in helping countries like Eritrea. Ireland is an example of this. Over the past 5 years, Ireland has committed over a million euro to projects in Eritrea via the Irish Aid programme. This has directly helped over 20,000 Eritrean families.”

“Irelands, agriculture research agency – Teagasc will also attend tomorrow’s conference. Teagasc runs a number of programmes in Eritrea such as the diary and potato projects. These programmes teach Eritrean farmers agricultural skills, making them commercially viable. This practical assistance is valuable to so many Eritrean families.”

“As a member of the European Parliament’s Development Committee, I learnt a lot about Eritrea during my visit. I want to use tomorrow’s conference to outline to other MEPs my experience and open a dialogue between other EU Member States and the Eritrean Government. Projects such as those run by Teagasc have proved so valuable to many Eritreans. I hope further similar projects can develop. Enabling sustainable livelihoods is a critical factor in determining Eritrea’s future,” concluded MEP Hayes.

European Parliament voted in favour of a new EU occupational pension fund Directive

European Parliament voted in favour of a new EU occupational pension fund Directive

Today the European Parliament voted in favour of a new EU occupational pension fund Directive, for which I was the lead negotiator in Parliament. This is a good day for European pensioners as we have brought more protection, more transparency and more security to how occupational pension funds are managed. We have achieved the right balance between respecting the differences between Member States’ pension systems while also encouraging pension mobility.

This is an important piece of legislation that will affect pensioners and members of pension schemes alike but a key priority in this was to ensure that the rights and interests of these pensioners and scheme members were protected. The EU needs to be careful when we are dealing with people’s savings.

I am optimistic that today’s agreement will pave the way for a stronger internal market for pensions. But I also feel that this vote can kick-start a real debate on pensions in many Member States, a debate that is very much needed all over Europe. People are living longer in Europe now and populations are ageing. There is a pension time bomb coming down the tracks and we don’t have the answers to this problem, particularly in Ireland. Yes, every day in Ireland people put aside income to make adequate provision for their pension cover into the future. But we have to encourage people to save and manage these schemes to the highest standards. Less than 40% of Irish employees are covered by a workplace pension scheme.

Black Friday shoppers should know their rights before splashing the cash – Hayes

Black Friday shoppers should know their rights before splashing the cash – Hayes                                                   

Bargain hunting Christmas shoppers should take time to familiarise themselves with their consumer rights ahead of bumper shopping day, ‘Black Friday’, said Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes today.

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“Black Friday is a relatively new phenomenon here in Ireland, which we’ve adopted from the USA, where retailers traditionally hold sales straight after Thanksgiving,” he explained.

“Savvy Irish and European retailers have spotted an opportunity to increase sales in the run-up to Christmas and last year, after a disappointing October, retails sales enjoyed a bounce in November, with Black Friday proving to be something of a boon.

“Crossborder and online shopping has increased in the wake of Brexit, as we’ve seen a weaker Sterling rate,” Mr. Hayes continued.  “Many retail websites will be seeing this Friday as an opportunity to attract new business to their sites, so shoppers may find themselves using websites they are not familiar with. In this instance, make sure you have the trader’s full contact details, including a postal address – never rely on just an email address or a PO Box.

“Don’t assume that a website is based in the country indicated by its web address For instance, a website ending in .ie doesn’t necessarily mean the website is based in Ireland. If you purchase from a trader based outside the EU, European Consumer protections may not apply. You may also face unexpected customs and tax bills.

“Most shoppers will want their goods delivered in time for Christmas. The trader must deliver the goods or perform the service within the agreed time period. If no period is agreed on, the goods/service must be delivered within 30 days of the order being placed. If the trader fails to do this and no delivery follows within an appropriate amount of time, you are entitled to a full refund.

“Never send cash or use a money wiring service. Funds sent this way are untraceable and consumers have no recourse if something goes wrong .Consider using payment methods such as cards, that offer chargeback in the event of a dispute. When inputting your card details, look for a padlock symbol in the bottom right of the browser window and ensure the website address begins with ‘https://.

“Retailers should look forward to an upsurge in sales over the coming weeks, which will be good news for the domestic and European economies. Shoppers should also bag themselves a few bargains, but should be sure to know they’re covered before they part with any cash,” Mr. Hayes concluded.

Dublin Tour Group – Strasbourg 2016

Dublin Tour Group – Strasbourg November 2016

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EU-Canada trade deal more important than ever – Fine Gael MEPs

EU-Canada trade deal more important than ever – Fine Gael MEPs

Against the backdrop of Brexit and a US President-elect who favours protectionism, the EU-Canada trade deal or CETA is now more important than ever and should be implemented without delay. That’s the view of the four Fine Gael MEPs who welcomed today’s defeat of a populist attempt to unnecessarily delay CETA, the overall benefits of which are expected to add €12 billion a year to EU GDP and create 230,000 jobs in Europe.

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Today’s heavy defeat of a parliamentary motion calling for the European Court of Justice to give an opinion on CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), was nothing more than a delaying tactic by 89 MEPs, a majority of whom, 82, voted against the last EU trade agreements

The EU-Canada trade agreement will boost trading opportunities for small to medium businesses which drive our economy and will save European exporters €500 million a year. After almost 8 years of negotiations, it should be implemented very soon so that Irish businesses and consumers can reap the benefits of the agreement early on.

CETA ensures protection for investments while enshrining the right of governments to regulate in the public interest. The Investment Court System (ICS) within CETA, a reformed investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, has been approved by the legal services of the European Commission which has done its utmost to ensure this agreement is proper and beneficial for all EU citizens. ICS will have professional and independent judges appointed by the EU and Canada and will be held to the highest ethical standards through a strict code of conduct. Its procedures will be transparent, including by opening up hearings and publishing documents submitted during cases. ICS will be implemented when all Member States have ratified CETA.

US President-elect Donald Trump appears opposed to free trade and has indicated he will be a protectionist president, casting doubt on immediate progress on other trade talks, particularly with Europe under TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).

Closer to home, the UK is progressing with Brexit plans creating economic uncertainty. Fortunately, the European Parliament should be able to formally vote on CETA next month, paving the way for its provisional implementation from January 2017.

The EU needs to protect its Single Market and provide Member States with trading opportunities. 31 million jobs in Europe are dependent on our trade performance. The facts speak for themselves. Following the free trade agreement with South Korea, EU exports in goods and services grew by 55pc and 40pc respectively and 210,000 jobs were created in Europe. The Korea agreement was provisionally applied during its ratification process.