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1 June 2017 Edition

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Another Europe is possible - Treo eile don Eoraip

Funded by the European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) – Aontas Clé na hEorpa / Na Glasaigh Chlé Nordacha Crúpa Paliminta – Parlaimimt na h Eorpa

European Council needs to recognise importance of protecting Good Friday Agreement

THE European Council needs to recognise the importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement, MEP Martina Anderson (Ireland North) has said.

She said it is vital that the Good Friday Agreement is protected in full during the upcoming Brexit negotiations between the EU and the British Government at Westminster. 

The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament has established a steering group on this and Martina is the representative on the body for the GUE/NGL group of 52 MEPs.

The group is chaired by Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator on Brexit, and includes representatives of all the major groups in the European Parliament. 

It has been working to inform the guidelines for the Brexit negotiations adopted at a Special European Council meeting. 

Martina Anderson said:

“I have been focused, in particular, on making the other members of the steering group aware of the unique position of the North, the fact that the majority of people voted to remain in the EU, and the disastrous impact Brexit would have on the island of Ireland. 

“The European Parliament has already passed a joint resolution which calls for no hardening of the Border, recognises the unique situation of the North and, crucially, calls for the protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts. 

“Through the Conference of Presidents Steering Group, I have been building support for the Good Friday Agreement, particularly in the face of the attempts to dismantle and undermine the Agreement by the British Government and the DUP, as well as garnering support for the case for the North to secure ‘Designated Special Status Within the EU’.

“The European Council now needs to recognise the importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement.”


• Martina Anderson MEP, Mary Lou McDonald TD and Michelle O'Neill MLA meet with GUE/NGL Group Leader Gabi Zimmer at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg to discuss Brexit and EU direction

EU should challenge Israel over Palestine power shortages

MARTINA ANDERSON has called on the EU to review a gas pipeline deal with Israel after serious power shortages in Palestine. 

The Irish MEP said the gas pipeline deal recently agreed by Cyprus, Greece and Italy will do nothing to address the serious power shortages in Palestine and the suffering of the Palestinian people. 

“Schools, hospitals and health services cannot operate properly in Palestine as a result of crippling power shortages brought about by Israeli actions. 

“This is adding to the growing humanitarian problems the Palestinian people face on a daily basis. 

“The international community, and the European Union in particular, have a responsibility to help the Palestinian people. 

“I am calling for this gas pipeline deal to be reviewed in light of the power shortages in Palestine.”


Ní Riada call on Youth Guarantee supported by EP Education Committee


• Liadh Ní Riada MEP

A DRAFT OPINION by GUE/NGL’s Liadh Ní Riada MEP for better-resourced public education systems across the EU and a revision of the Youth Guarantee Scheme and the Youth Employment Initiative was passed at a vote in the Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education on 4 May.

The Irish MEP had already voiced concern that the 2.5% cuts in investment for education and training between 2010 and 2014 have seriously undermined equality and social inclusion across the EU as part of the debate on the ‘EU Action for Sustainability’ motion for the 2030 Development Agenda.

Additionally, a revision of the youth-related initiative is badly needed in order to promote the creation of new high-quality jobs and decent social protection for young people in the EU, Liadh said.

Commenting after the vote, Ní Riada said that, although she was pleased with the result, much more investment is needed:

“Opinions, as we all know, need to be short and direct. We decided, when drafting this opinion, that we would focus on the fourth Sustainable Development Goal of the 2030 Development Agenda, in the European policy framework.

“Of course, if the opportunity was made available to me, I would have broadened the scope of the opinion but space and procedure would not permit that.”


Commission leave to help curb gambling addiction should be sought

IRELAND has the third-highest gambling losses per head in the world, Lynn Boylan MEP has said, urging the Irish Government to seek a derogation from the EU Commission to enact measures designed to help curb gambling addiction before it signs off on draft legislation to go before the Dáil.

The Public Health Institute estimates that Ireland could have as many as 40,000 problem gamblers with gambling among adolescents 2-3 times higher than adults. 

Some 50% of gambling losses in Ireland are through online gambling.

The Dáil’s Gambling Control Bill was first published in 2013 and legislation is now promised in the next 12 months but we do not need to wait for the legislation to introduce interim measures, the Dublin MEP said.

Although online gambling across the EU is governed by internal market rules, there is scope for a derogation to allow for member states to enact measures that are designed to help curb gambling addiction, she said.

“This is not about banning gambling and it is not about calling for draconian measures,” the Dublin MEP emphasised, “but it is about ensuring that those who do have gambling problems get the support they need and are not vulnerable to online exploitation by betting operators.”


Lynn Boylan MEP launches ‘Boycott Israel Bag’

GUE/NGL MEP Lynn Boylan has launched a shopping bag reminding consumers how they can do their bit for Palestinian human rights by boycotting Israeli goods.

The “I check the label. Do you?” bag urges customers to use their purchasing power by avoiding goods from Israel and its illegal colonial settlements in Palestine.

The bags are free of charge from Lynn’s office. Enquiries to [email protected].


Ireland drops 5 places in World Press Freedom Index 

PUBLISHED every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders, the World Press Freedom Index is an important tool for measuring the health of journalism and press freedom throughout countries around the world.

The Paris-based NGO, which has consultant status at the United Nations, issued its World Press Freedom Index for 2017 on 26 April. 

It investigated freedom of media and journalists in 180 countries and found democracies, as well as dictatorships, had increasingly clamped down on press freedom.

In its chapter on Ireland, the report states:

“The highly concentrated nature of media ownership in Ireland poses a major threat to press freedom.” 

In outlining the problem it went on to point out an example of the concentration of ownership in that “Independent News and Media (INM) controls 40% of the daily and Sunday newspaper market”.

Lynn Boylan said:

“An open and diverse media is crucial to the health of any democracy. We need a media that holds those in powerful positions to account, one that seeks the truth and ensures that the public has access to the truth.

“For some time now, there has been a litany of reports highlighting the dangers and problems that the concentration of media ownership is having in Ireland and how it is damaging our democracy.” 


‘Shell companies’ cost EU budgets €100bn to €230bn a year

A NEW REPORT commissioned by the European Parliament’s Panama Papers inquiry committee shows that ‘shell companies’ cost the budgets of EU member states up to €237billion per year, Matt Carthy MEP has said.

Speaking in Brussels at the presentation of the report to the committee, the Ireland North West MEP said:

“These findings show the high cost to governments across the EU of permitting these schemes that funnel money offshore. The schemes directly and very significantly reduce the amount of funds available to state authorities for spending on public services.”

The report estimates that the schemes revealed in the Panama Papers cost the budgets of EU member states somewhere between €109 billion and €237billion every year.

“This is money that should be received by governments as revenue and then made available to fund vital public services such as hospitals and schools.

“The report looks at just one example of what these funds could be used for if they weren’t diverted to offshore tax havens – employment. The billions funneled out of EU member states and into tax havens could be used to support an additional 3.5million jobs at a time when we still have 20million people out of work across the EU.”

EU vision contrary to progressive and social Europe


• Matt Carthy MEP

A PAPER by the European Commission on the future of the EU published in May shows that those people driving the EU project have their “heads in the sand”, Matt Carthy MEP has said.

The Commission document is a follow-on to a White Paper on ‘The Future of the EU’ issued in March which envisaged various future scenarios for the European Union.

Matt Carthy said that the European Commission’s ‘Reflection Paper on Harnessing Globalisation’ reveals “a deeply disturbing lack of vision” by those steering the EU project to countenance the wide-ranging changes to the EU that are an urgent necessity.

“The EU Commission is blindly adhering to a neoliberal ideology which makes its aspirations for a global rule book to harness globalisation, particularly in light of the unregulated relationship between the European Commission and tens of thousands of corporate lobbies in Brussels.”

The Ireland North West MEP continued:

“This paper is not about harnessing globalisation. It is about pushing it forward as the only solution to all of the EU’s problems.

“It is a wrong-headed approach and one which is in complete contrast to the vision of a progressive and social Europe,” Matt Carthy said.


Euro Court rules against silencing debate on TTIP

MATT CARTHY has welcomed a landmark decision by the European Court of Justice in May which ruled against the attempts of the European Commission to silence debate on the controversial proposed TTIP trade deal between the EU and USA.

The European Court of Justice annulled a decision by the European Commission in 2014 that rejected a European Citizens' Initiative entitled “Stop-TTIP” which secured over 3million signatories.

The European Commission had rejected the Stop-TTIP European Citizens' Initiative, saying that preparatory decisions (such as decisions to open international trade negotiations) did not fall within the rules laid down.

Matt Carthy described the judgement as “a victory for millions of citizens who have campaigned against TTIP and CETA over the last three years”. 


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