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Victims of property scam have grounds for redress – Hayes
Irish owners of French leaseback properties who are being pursued for loan arrears by French banks may be given a reprieve, as a case for mis-selling is investigated both in Ireland and in France.
Irish owners of these properties have presented a case for mis-selling to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in Dublin and the initial response shows that there are clear grounds for an investigation,” said Brian Hayes MEP, who has been working on behalf of over 300 Irish owners who are affected by this.
“The CCPC contacted its French counterpart authority, the Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des
Fraudes (‘DGCCRF’), which has committed to undertake investigations and appropriate enforcement actions during 2017 in relation to the alleged unfair commercial practices,
“From as far back as 2005, 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, but while this investigation gets underway by the French authority, many owners are currently embroiled in legal battles with French banks, regardless of the many grey areas surrounding the advertisement and sale of these properties.
“What we need to proceed at this point is:
- A clear time-frame for the DGRRF in France to complete its investigation
- A suspension of legal action by French banks until the DGRRF’s investigation is completed
- The CCPC in Dublin to definitively conclude that the Consumer Rights of Irish citizens have been violated
“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 has recently been elected an MP and was previously 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.”
Ryanair likely to be in breach of EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive – Hayes
Brian Hayes MEP today said that Ryanair could be in breach of the EU’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive through ‘misleading commercial practices’.
“Ryanair’s decision to cancel up to 50 flights per day for the next six weeks is an act of gross negligence in commercial behaviour. Up to 400,000 passengers could be affected.
“There are much larger implications for Ryanair than just providing compensation to affected passengers. This action by Ryanair is likely to be a breach of the EU’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive which protects consumers against misleading and aggressive commercial practices.
“Under this Directive, Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is empowered to investigate unfair commercial practices. It is quite evident that Ryanair has not adhered to its responsibilities under EU consumer protection law which requires that there be a special standard of care be exercised towards consumers.
“A ‘misleading commercial practice’ under EU law is regarded as a commercial action that provides false or deceptive information or is likely to cause the consumer to take a transactional decision he or she would have not taken otherwise. If Ryanair was prepared to offer these flights for purchase, it had a duty to ensure that it had adequate resources in place to carry out the service. If consumers had known about Ryanair’s resourcing problem, they would not have booked these flights.
“I am calling on the CCPC to conduct an investigation into Ryanair’s cancellation of flights. There are clear problems with Ryanair’s actions under EU consumer protection law. Given the scale of the problem and the number of consumers affected, this issue should be addressed immediately and given priority by the CCPC.
“Ryanair has been the biggest beneficiary of the EU’s Single Aviation Market and it has taken full advantage of the single market. Passengers have also benefited from Ryanair’s offering through cheap flights. Yet mass cancellations like this cannot go unpunished. It needs to be made very clear that there are high standards of consumer protection in the EU that Ryanair needs to adhere to. As Ryanair is headquartered in Ireland, the CCPC also has a responsibility to show that it is enforcing EU consumer law properly.”
3 months later, are the EU’s rules on Roaming Charges Effective? – Hayes
Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Friday) launched a survey to obtain the public’s views on Roaming Charges. The Dublin MEP said, “This weekend marks 3 months since roaming charges were abolished across the EU. Since June 15th the EUs “Roam Like at Home”, policy has been in place and as a member of the European Parliament I want to know the public’s opinions and experience.”
“As the Summer holiday period is now ending many holiday goers will be receiving their first mobile bills. I want the public to look carefully at their bills and if possible compare them to a holiday period prior to June 15th this year. Are your mobile bills cheaper? Were you charged extra for making calls? Were you charged for receiving calls? Were you charged extra for sending a text? These questions need to be asked.
“I also want to know about data usage. This was the number one reason for many people receiving large bills after holidays. The EU’s “Roam Like at Home” policy means that your data bundle can be used anywhere in Europe. However, there is a fair usage policy to prevent abuse of the system. The data allowance should be sufficient to allow you use social media, Whatsap and other popular apps. I want to know is this the case.”
“Prior to the introduction of the new rules some mobile network providers attempted to effectively maintain roaming charges by the backdoor by changing their pricing policy. At the time, I presented these examples to the European Commission who categorically stated to me that such changes would breach the roaming regulations if enforced after June 15th. I want to ensure that this is not happening.”
“The results of the survey are important. I will present the data to the European Commission and COMREG who has responsibility to ensure that the roaming rules are implemented correctly in Ireland. If necessary, I will also seek to meet with network providers. The survey is available on my Facebook, Twitter and website www.brianhayes.ie”
Juncker’s new FDI Regulation needs to be studied carefully – Hayes
Brian Hayes MEP today said that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s new proposed regulation on Foreign Direct Investment should be studied carefully by Ireland.
“During his State of the Union address today, President Juncker announced new measures to be introduced regulating foreign direct investment. Given that Ireland depends heavily on foreign direct investment, we need to give these proposals careful scrutiny.
“Juncker’s FDI proposition intends to give EU countries the right to block foreign takeovers of European companies, particularly Chinese takeovers. There has been a more than two-thirds surge in Chinese investment last year into Europe’s high-tech manufacturing, infrastructure and energy sectors.
“While the intent is not to go after individual Member State FDI policy, we should study these proposals carefully to ensure that our FDI regime is not adversely affected.
“The new regulation intends to introduce cooperation mechanisms to monitor foreign investment all over the EU. We have to consider new proposals which would allow Member States to raise concerns about a foreign direct investment in another Member State.
“Investment screening, as Juncker puts it, should not be an attempt to block the long-standing system of how we do business with the rest of the world. It should not be an attempt to prevent real investment coming to Europe which can boost jobs and growth for Member States. There has to be a differentiation here between how we attract foreign direct investment which is completely up to Member States to decide, and competition policy, on the other hand, which is decided at EU level.”
EU free WIFI initiative approved by European Parliament – Hayes
Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Tuesday) welcomed the successful passing of the EU’s new Wi-Fi initiative. Speaking in Strasbourg after the vote the Dublin MEP said that the initiative known as “WIFI4EU” is an example of how Europe can be practical and useful in citizen’s everyday lives.
“I am very pleased that plans by the EU to invest in thousands of public Wi-Fi access points across the EU will begin shortly following today’s vote. 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
MOSCOVICI CONFIRMS NO CHANGE FOR IRELAND IN FISCAL RULES – Hayes
Brian Hayes MEP today said that European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici has informed him in a letter that there will be no change to the EU fiscal rules for Ireland for the upcoming budget.
“Commissioner Moscovici has made it clear that there won’t be any special deal for Ireland to change the fiscal rules to give us extra fiscal space in the upcoming budget.
“There are issues with the methodology behind the fiscal rules but it is clear that for any changes to occur with the fiscal rules, there needs to be agreement from all Member States. The Department of Finance has been in regular discussions with the Commission and other Member States over many years to seek changes to the fiscal rules and has negotiated many improvements. But this requires patient negotiations and has to be done with all Member States, the Commission cannot grant special deals.
“The fiscal rules do have an impact on Ireland’s fiscal space in budgets. Yet because we are currently running a deficit, there are more constraints on our budgetary capacity for increased spending and tax cuts. What is really important is that we achieve a balanced budget next year, as Minister Donohoe has committed to. If we achieve a balanced budget by next year, then we will have reached our Medium Term Objective under the Fiscal rules – meaning that there are far less restrictions on our spending levels as we will no longer be running a deficit. We will be freer to invest in things like housing and infrastructure.
“Minister Donohoe said in July that we effectively only have about €300 million worth of fiscal space for tax cuts and increased spending. On the scale of the overall budget for the whole of 2018, which will be around €60 billion, this is a tiny amount to play around with.
“Sticking to the fiscal rules is absolutely vital. The fiscal rules are there to ensure that we don’t follow pro-cyclical fiscal policies and so that we can prevent major economic downturns. Politicians of all parties are blaming the EU and the fiscal rules for what we can and cannot do. This is a cop out. It’s what we in Ireland have agreed to and put into national legislation. We should be embracing the fiscal rules as they are designed to keep our economy healthy and to ensure that governments do not become reckless with spending.”
Hayes writes to Draghi to allow for more QE purchases of Irish debt
Ahead of the ECB’s Governing Council meeting today (Thursday), Brian Hayes MEP has written to ECB President Mario Draghi to seek to ease a restriction which allows the ECB to buy no more than 33 per cent of eligible bonds from a single state. This restriction may prohibit the ECB from buying more Irish debt in the remaining period of the Quantitative Easing programme.
“Given that the ECB’s Quantitative Easing programme will run until at least the end of this year, there is a risk that the ECB will be restricted from buying any more Irish debt as it is getting very close to the 33 per cent limit. Under the QE programme, the ECB has purchased almost €23 billion worth of Irish debt.
“In March this year, NTMA data showed that, in total, the ECB held €45 billion of the €121.6bn Irish Government bonds in issuance. However, this figure is skewed by the fact that due to the promissory note deal, these Anglo-Irish related bonds remain on the Central Bank’s balance sheet and are calculated as part of the ECB’s holding of Irish debt.
“The Irish Central Bank took €25 billion worth of long-term Anglo-Irish bonds onto its books in February 2013 as part of the promissory note deal. It has since sold off about €8 billion of the bonds but the outstanding amount is still over-inflating our exposure to the ECB.
“There needs to be some solution to this issue. There is a chance that we could get to October or November and the ECB would be completely restricted from buying Irish debt as part of the QE programme. We cannot be put at a disadvantage to other Eurozone countries – the QE programme was designed to purchase Member State bonds proportionally on the basis of economy size. This is the fundamental principle of the programme and must be guarded by the ECB.
“There are two potential options that the ECB could pursue. Either the issuer limit could be increased from 33% to 50% – this would give the ECB wriggle room not just for Ireland but also for Portugal and Germany whose bond purchases are close to the 33% limit. Or the ECB could factor the Anglo-Irish related bonds out of the 33% issuer limit. This would make sense given that this was a special ad-hoc arrangement between the government and the ECB in 2013 that was designed to curtail the risks from the Anglo-Irish bank collapse.
“Whatever the future of the QE programme beyond 2017, it must be ensured that the programme is wound up properly with all participant Eurozone countries fairly treated. If the ECB stops purchasing Irish bonds while the programme is ongoing, this could send a very negative signal to the markets.”