Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson strongly criticised the outcome of the Regional Development Committee (REGI) vote on a new regulation on cohesion policy for the period 2014-2020.
“The result of this vote is that cohesion policy, which governs the use of structural and cohesion funds, will become subject to the Commission’s austerity policies.
“It is a shame that for the first time in the history of the EU, budgets dedicated to cohesion between its different regions are being cut substantially.
“The REGI committee vote concluded the initial stages of legislation in advance of negotiations between the EU institutions. One positive outcome of the Committee vote is the strong opposition within the European Parliament making it clear that it would not accept such macro-economic conditionality in structural and cohesion funding. Macroeconomic conditionality would make cohesion funding dependent on member states adherence to EU economic governance rules.
“Failure by government to abide the harsh and counterproductive austerity policies set by the European Commission could be punished by the withdrawal of cohesion funding. In the North of Ireland this would mean that we could be punished by the European Commission for decisions taken in London over which we have no control . Macro-economic conditionality would create insecurity and uncertainty in the structural funds allocated to member states which would be detrimental to strategic regional project planning.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has described the British government’s decision to halt plans to introduce plain packaging for Tobacco Products as surrendering to the well-oiled Tobacco Industry Lobbying machine.
Martina Anderson commented:
“The decision by the British government to halt plans to introduce‘plain packaging’ for tobacco products is disgraceful. It should be ashamed, having so blatantly bowed to tobacco industry lobbying.
“The packet is one of the last marketing devices in Europe left for the tobacco industry to exploit the opportunity to attract new young smokers of its products. With 94% of smokers taking up the deadly habit before the age of 25, it is essential that governments across the world ensure that this ‘silent salesman’ is restricted as much as possible.
“700,000 people die in Europe every year from tobacco related diseases, 2300 of them in the North of Ireland causing hurt and devastation for hundreds of thousands of families. Perhaps the British government, even if unconcerned about the human tragedies caused by this death product, should reflect on the massive cost to the Health Service, before surrendering to the well-oiled lobbying machine of the tobacco industry. Of course, when the British PM hires a political advisor who was previously a tobacco industry lobbyist, this U-turn on a matter of such importance for public health is perhaps less surprising.
“All EU countries are signatories to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control which obliges governments to ensure that public health policies are protected from undue influence from tobacco industry lobbying. It is clear that these obligations have not been adhered to by the British government. The British government should follow the example of the Irish Health Minister who is bringing forward measures to introduce 100% plain packaging on tobacco products.”
Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson, has urged her constituents to be cautious when considering buying property abroad.
Martina Anderson said:
“As the holiday season kicks in with many Irish families travelling abroad, it can be very tempting to think about purchasing your own ‘place in the sun’. “
“For the great majority of people who do decide to buy a second home abroad this generally works well without any significant issues or problems. “
“But, I have however, been contacted by some constituents who have encountered some serious problems with property scams. Some are even at risk of having them confiscated or demolished, through no fault of their own.
“I would therefore, strongly advise anyone considering investing abroad to thoroughly research the property firms or individuals they are dealing with and to seek local legal advice and representation before parting with their hard-earned cash. You could potentially be losing your life savings. I urge any constituent considering an investment abroad of this significance to tread very carefully. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed reports that the European Commission is considering a cap on the fees charged by Service Providers for the processing of Credit and Debit card transactions.
Martina Anderson said:
“Reports that the European Commission is considering placing upper limits of charges that Service Providers can impose for Credit and Debit card transactions would be a welcome development in the present economic climate where the trend always seems to be on maximising profits with no consideration for consumers.
“A ceiling being placed on charges on all consumer debit and credit card transactions would signal a change in direction that would be of benefit to consumers. They are additional to interest payments and normally charged to the retailer for the ‘privilege’ of being able to accept cards in lieu of cash. These transaction fees are, therefore, a largely hidden cost to transactions made through the use of credit and debit cards and invariably contribute to increased cost of goods.
“They are an obviously lucrative revenue stream for payment providers like Visa and Mastercard, who will do whatever possible to counteract such measures. It is therefore important that as this proposal progresses, that parallel measures are taken to ensure that alternative charges are not introduced or present charges increased so that the Providers can recoup any reduction in transaction revenue. The consumer must be protected from the market forces demand for increased profits and dividends for investors.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the selection of Monaghan Councillor Matt Carthy as the Sinn Féin Candidate to contest the 2014 EU Election in the Northern Constituency of the 26 Counties.
Martina Anderson said:
“I congratulate Matt on his selection to fight the EU Election on behalf of Sinn Féin in the Northern Constituency. The fact that Matt win through against the strong competition from three other excellent candidates, Senator Kathryn Reilly and Councillors Rose Conway Walsh and Martin Kenny shows the strength of talent available to the Sinn Féin organisation.
“I have been honoured to serve as a Sinn Féin representative in Europe since replacing Bairbre de Brún and am looking forward to fighting the 2014 elections alongside Matt and the other Sinn Féin candidates who will be selected in the other constituencies in the coming weeks. I know that I will not be returning to the EU Parliament following the elections as the sole Sinn Féin representative.
Tá mé ag tnúth le do chuideachta san Eoraip. Comhghairdeas mo chara.”
Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson a member of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted today in favour of a proposal on indirect land use change (ILUC) to biofuel production and the promotion of using energy from renewable sources.
Martina Anderson said:
“In spite of strong opposition from some industrial lobby groups, including many former government ministers from EU member states , MEPs have backed this positive environmentally friendly proposal.
“In the case of existing biofuels, EU production levels will continue to be capped at 5.5% of the final transport consumption rate in 2020. The share of energy from advanced biofuels will not be less than 2.5% of the final transport consumption of energy in 2020. Energy use from renewable sources will be encouraged and receive priority attention.
“It is very important that social and employment standards are maintained and the rights of citizens and local communities are protected and given priority consideration in land use change for the purposes of producing raw materials to be used in the production of biofuels and bio-liquids.
“The Commission has a duty to protect these rights by ensuring they are secured and recognised in transparent agreements. This is a clear and strong statement respecting developing countries’ rights that we take great satisfaction in having this proposal accepted by the ENVI committee.
“I find it distasteful however, to have high powered lobbyists , including former government Ministers from member states, disregarding the rights of indigenous people, local communities and national environmental concerns in order to satisfy the greed of multi-national conglomerates.
“It gives me no pleasure to acknowledge that former Irish government Ministers, particularly Former FF, Environment Minister, Dick Roche is heavily involved in this activity without due regard for the social and environmental damage that many of these multi-nationals leave in their trails.
“Of course Charlie McCreevy, another former Fianna Fáil Minister and Pat Cox, former Progressive Democrat MEP are also prominent among the hordes of highly paid corporate Lobbyists now operating in Europe in the interests of international corporations.
“But given Dick Roche’s environmental record in Ireland this is not surprising. Along with McCreevy and Cox they are now bringing the FF/PD ethos of greed to the corridors of Europe. Not satisfied with their exhorbitant pensions they are leading the revolving door brigade of former elected representatives using their status and insider knowledge and contacts to lobby on corporate matters for hefty rewards.”
Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson, welcomed acceptance by the Environment Committee of an amendment requiring inclusion of the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels under the Environmental Impact Assessments Directive.
Martina Anderson commented:
“I am delighted that the Environment Committee, on which I sit, accepted the amendment requiring inclusion of the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.
“Currently, only projects which produce at least 500,000 cubic metres (m3) of gas daily have to undergo Environmental Impact Assessments. Although unconventional gas project emissions such as Fracking may produce less gas they nevertheless can have as serious an environmental impact as conventional gas extraction. This amendment when accepted by a vote in the full plenary of all the MEPs will ensure that the impact on the environment and public health is considered and fully compliant with EIA before any extraction project is approved. Although having to pass this final stage, the fact that it has been accepted by the ENVI committee would suggest that it will be adopted.
“It is crucial that we continue to close the regulatory gaps which exist for Fracking operations within the EU.”