Brian Hayes MEP

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“Ireland could become a core Eurozone Member within 10 years”

“Ireland could become a core Eurozone Member within 10 years”

Brian Hayes MEP remarks to The Irish Times PwC Tax Summit, Wednesday 20th September 2017

“One year after the Brexit bombshell, Europe has finally managed to get back in gear. It has been a long time coming. The sluggish Eurozone is now powering ahead and looking more positive and growing faster than either the US or UK. Five million new jobs have been created across the EU in the last three years. From the Eurozone debt crisis eight years ago to the need for new investment and banking union, the EU has finally turned the corner and is moving beyond Brexit.

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“In July, the latest information about attitudes towards the EU from the Eurobarometer, provided for some interesting reading. Not since autumn 2004 has support for the euro been as high – 73%. And, of the 28 Member States, Irish views on the EU are now the most positive. It is clear that in an uncertain world, Ireland’s EU membership is recognised by ordinary people as an anchor and something positive.

“Brexit, instead of killing off the EU, has given it a new breath of life. Suddenly the EU is not looking as sick as it did.

“Politically we need to take the EU and its politics much more seriously. We are no longer net beneficiaries; we now contribute more than we receive. Just as we obtained over €57 billion in funds since joining the EU to develop economically, it is right that we contribute to other poorer Member States. We are one of the oldest EU Member States. We need to build new partnerships from the Baltics to the Benelux countries. We need to review our contribution to EU security while having a debate about our traditional policy on neutrality.

“At last we are beginning to see the emergence of a stronger more pro-European leadership. Angela Merkel is the standout leader amongst the big Member States right now. Alongside Macron the two leaders represent a strong team. While they may have views on the future direction of the EU, so do we and we must be clear in articulating those views especially on tax sovereignty and the position of smaller Member States.

“Being part of the Eurozone core is something we should strive for. That means getting our debt down well below 60% of GDP – I think we should aim for 40% within the next 10 years. Yes our debt levels are very high. Over the next three years the NTMA have correctly reminded us that we have to repay or restructure over €50 billion of debt. But a decade of sustained growth, averaging out at 3%, would make a great difference in reducing the actual debt and the cost of servicing debt.

“Making Ireland part of the Eurozone core would really help to position the country for future investment opportunities. EU countries within the Eurozone who are part of the core have no difficulty in attracting investment because they are regarded as safe economies. They are the countries that drive Eurozone policy making. Being perceived as a country with a sustainable level of debt and a strong public finance position makes Ireland even more attractive for inward investment. And also a country that can deal with shocks.

“In the future, being part of the Eurozone’s core means being open to a relentless benchmarking exercise; comparing ourselves against what other similar sized EU countries are doing. They can also learn from us. How have Estonia got their digital platforms so right when it comes to accessing public services? What can the German model of traineeships teach us about options for post leaving cert students? Can we learn from the reforms of pension policy that the Netherlands introduced ten years ago?

“Being part of the core within 10 years would bring enormous advantages of economic convergence to Ireland. While we do not determine interest rate policy anymore – that is set in Frankfurt by the ECB – we can internally devalue in other areas such as wages price inflation, output or educational attainment, as a means of becoming more competitive. That’s the essence of a currency union. Competitive advantage is gained by becoming better than others, especially those that are similar in size or similar in economic make up. Also the core of the Eurozone provides the best possible advantages for our exporting future. The winning of new markets being so crucial in the post-Brexit environment.

“But the key priority right now, as Paschal Donohoe has highlighted, must be about getting to a balanced budget next year. What many commentators do not fully appreciate is that under the Fiscal rules, we will have reached our Medium Term Objective and then all the talk about the restrictiveness on fiscal space will fade away. By getting to a balanced budget you then have the flexibility under the existing rules. Until we reach a balanced budget, the expenditure benchmark rule limits our spending levels.

“Our future lies in Europe – a future at the heart of the EU and future at the core of the Eurozone.”

Victims of property scam have grounds for redress – HAYES

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.

14-10-22 Brian Hayes portrait STR-6

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

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’.

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“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

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

Juncker’s new FDI Regulation needs to be studied carefully – Hayes

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.

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“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

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



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.

14-10-22 Brian Hayes portrait STR-2

“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.”