Tag Archives: EU Commission

Um.

This afternoon.

Thanks, Ursula.

Meanwhile…

FIGHT!

Infographics of the EC’s findings on Ireland’s tax dealings with Apple (top) and (above) the EC’s investigation of Nike and the Netherlands

This morning.

Almost two and a half years on from the European Commission finding that Ireland gave illegal tax benefits, under EU state aid rules, to Apple worth up to €13billion…

The EU Commission has announced that it has started an investigation into Nike and the Netherlands – to see if the Netherlands has given Nike an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU state aid rules.

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Nike in the Netherlands (EU Commission)

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 12.33.47

Former Environment Minister Phil Hogan

On foot of Phil Hogan being confirmed as the European Union’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, he spoke to Seán O’Rourke earlier.

During the interview he addressed the matter of Independent MEP Nessa Childers writing to all the members of the Social Democrats group – 191 members – of the European Parliament, in which she said she had “serious reservations” about Mr Hogan getting the EU Commissioner post.

Ms Childers specifically wrote about how Mr Hogan, as Environment Minister, had written to some of his constituents in Kilkenny, telling them a Traveller family – Patrick and Brigid Carthy and their seven children – would not be moved to a house near them.

Phil Hogan: “Can I say that the assertions made by Nessa Childers are absolute rubbish and they will be dealt with at the European Parliament, if they arise, and they will be dealt with in the courts, in due course.”

Seán O’Rourke: “And then, more recently, there was the story on Sunday last, to the effect you knew far more than you were admitting about the detailed costs being run up by Irish Water in their establishment, particularly in regard to consultants, and you didn’t tell the full story.”

Hogan: “And that’s absolute rubbish as well, Seán. And I know that there has to be bit of a silly season but this is a silly season story where I’ve done, where I’ve actually, on regular occasions to the Dáil, and indeed the Irish Water company told the European, told the environment committee and the public accounts committee, I’ve explained all of the headings that the company have to work with, in order to give indicative allocations of money, for, to set up a new company. I don’t expect that anyone, or didn’t expect that anyone would set up a new company without it costing some money. Irish Water, by its establishment, is saving considerable amount of money already in various schemes right around Ireland and it shows the importance of water quality and the investment that’s required in water and sewage treatment plants if we want a competitive Ireland and, indeed a competitive Europe.”

O’Rourke: “I know that’s, and I suppose that’s the big principle of this thing and that’s why it was set up but in regard to your own knowledge of the detail, did you effectively hide the extent of that detailed knowledge?”

Hogan: “No, I certainly indicated that there was a overall figure required to establish a new company and, in due course, the, all of the tendering procedures have to go through one of the various headings and under the various systems that have been put in place to set up a new commercial, semi-State company. And it will be seen, in time, Seán, that it was worthwhile and that Irish Water got on with the job of implementing a very important program for the country, to create jobs and sustain jobs for the year ahead. If we don’t have good water quality, we won’t have jobs in Ireland and we won’t have good public health.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: The Negative Noise Around Phil Hogan

Anything Good In ‘The Parliament’?

Dear EU Commission

Big Phil’s Fat Gypsy Prejudice

Turning The Story On Its Head

Why Did Phil Hogan Stop Six Separate Planning Inquiries?

Photocall Ireland

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 01.30.08

Last night, the political correspondent for RTÉ’s current affairs department Katie Hannon, above, spoke to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ’s Prime Time about former Environment Minister Phil Hogan’s bid to become a new EU Commissioner.

Miriam O’Callaghan: “We all know it’s this week that we’re going to find out, but is it looking like Agriculture, Katie?”

Katie Hannon: “It is looking like agriculture. I understand it’s now going to be Wednesday. We thought we’d get this announcement tomorrow but I’m now hearing it’s going to be Wednesday. And, as of now, the talk is that Phil Hogan is tipped to get the agriculture portfolio and I think that would be seen as a win for Ireland, it would be seen as a good result. It’s perhaps, not the top, top tier of portfolios, it’s second tier, but a portfolio that’s important to Ireland. So I think they’ll be pleased if that’s how it works out on Wednesday.”

O’Callaghan: “Is he in any real jeopardy?”

Hannon: “Well I think he’s certainly going to come under considerable pressure over the next couple of weeks. We have this unprecedented situation where, and this is reflection of how the election went last May for the European Parliament, but we now have five of our 11 MEPs, Irish MEPs, opposing the Irish nominee for Commissioner. And that’s really unprecedented. And we even have a sixth, Marian Harkin who is reserving her position until she says, she sees what portfolio he gets and how he performs before that committee. And two of those objecting MEPs, Matt Carthy from Sinn Féin and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, the Independent MEP, they’re actually sitting on the Agriculture Committee, so if that is the portfolio he gets, they will be facing those two MEPs, amongst the other members of that committee for the grilling that he must get before he is ratified as commissioner. So, I think, one way or another, it’s going to be a pressure time, for Phil Hogan.”

O’Callaghan: “In terms of issues, what are the issues likely to be raised?”

Hannon: “Well, we know already that the Independent MEP Nessa Childers has written to all the members of the Social Democrats group, that’s 191 members of the European Parliament. And she’s told them about events surrounding letters that Minister, the then Minister Hogan, wrote in relation to the housing of a Traveller family in his constituency in 2012. This was a fairly big controversy at the time here. Phil Hogan has always maintained that he never did anything wrong in relation to this, that he was merely representing the concerns of his constituents, and he stands over that. But Nessa Childers has, as I say, written to all these MEPs, has been highly critical of his move there and has said his appointment, in relation to this would be a step back for equality. So, it remains to be seen if any members of the Socialist group have bite in relation to that.”

O’Callaghan: “And Sinn Féin of course, they’ve also raised concerns, haven’t they Katie?”

Hannon: “Sinn Féin have yeah. Sinn Féin have a long, have been raising concerns about Phil Hogan for some time. We’ve known, of course, that Phil Hogan was our likely nominee for quite some time now and Sinn Féin have been to the forefront of questioning of his suitability for the job. They have a long list, they’ve talked about what they say is cronyism, appointments to State bodies, they talked about how he handled the planning inquiries, that were ongoing in his department, when he was at the helm of that department, in 2011, and, of course, now they’ve gone big on the Irish Water issue. And we’ve had this new, that controversy has, of course, blown up over the weekend, more questions raised about what Phil Hogan knew about the spending on consultants in that department and even more so, not even what he knew but how candid he was when he was asked questions about that. And, certainly, from what, the documents that came into the possession of RTÉ’s This Week programme yesterday raises serious questions about how candid he was in relation to those issues so that’s definitely going to be in the ether as the Commission nominees are announced this week.”

O’Callaghan: “So what do you think? What’s your instinct? Will any of this stick? Is it likely to cause him any serious problems or not Katie?”

Hannon: “Well, I think he can certainly look forward to some pretty uncomfortable few hours, before the committee, whatever committee he ends up sitting before, getting his grilling. You’d have to say that he has weathered these storms domestically, up to now. And you’d wonder, if that’s the case, why should they sink him in Europe, if he’s managed to shrug off any political damage in relation to these, up to now. So that’s in his favour. But, I mean, people have fallen at this hurdle before. In 2010, there was a Bulgarian nominee, there was questions raised about her husband’s links with the Russian mafia in the German Press. She had a very poor performance before her committee, she was withdrawn before the Commission went ahead. There was, famously, the Italian nominee in 2004, Butilone – his issue was he had particular views on homosexuality and marriage, he have very conservative, Catholic views. There was a fear that they might cut across the portfolio the was offered. He was offered the civil liberties portfolio and, again, he was withdrawn, so it’s not unprecedented but it’s a big deal if a nominee has to be withdrawn. The other difficulty, the only other difficulty I think that’s been raised with me this evening was that events might overtake matters. So, let’s say, a Socialist nominee had to be withdrawn for whatever reason, the Socialists might come for a scalp from the European People’s Party. And, in that kind of scenario, all this negative noise around Phil Hogan might make him vulnerable.”

Watch back in full here

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 11.52.40

This changes everything.

The EU Commission writes:

“There are only a few minutes before your flight check-in closes, or before your train departs, but you now have to spend precious time hunting for a free space at the airport or station car park. Imagine leaving your vehicle at the main entrance and letting the car do the rest on its own. Researchers from Germany, Italy, the UK and Switzerland are working on this, and successful tests took place at Stuttgart airport earlier this year. €5.6 million of EU funding is invested in the system which will be available in the coming years.”

“Drivers will be able to leave their car in front of the car park and use a smartphone app to trigger the parking process. The vehicle will connect with the car park’s server and drive itself to the designated space. While in the garage, the car can also be programmed to go to a charging station. Upon returning, the driver uses the same app to summon the car – fully charged and ready to go.”

EU develops new driverless car parking system – so you never waste another minute looking for a space (EU Commission)