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Renew Europe Group


Ireland - Fianna Fáil Party (Ireland)

Date of birth : , Cork

Written explanations of vote Billy KELLEHER

Members can submit a written explanation of their vote in plenary. Rule 194

Common agricultural policy - support for strategic plans to be drawn up by Member States and financed by the EAGF and by the EAFRD (A8-0200/2019 - Peter Jahr)


The CAP is the European Union’s mechanism for ensuring food security, protecting farm incomes and developing rural communities.
Farmers as custodians of the land will play a significant role in protecting the environment, enhancing biodiversity and promoting sustainable food production.
Fianna Fáil votes on the CAP Strategic Plans sought to marry these two objectives. We voted for the greenest CAP plan in history; setting aside at least 30% of the Direct Payments budget for new eco-schemes to support farmers protect and enhance biodiversity on their lands. Earlier this month we voted for a 60% overall reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
We voted to align, where appropriate, CAP objectives with the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, the Sustainable Development Goals, the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement.
We will further strengthen climate ambition through the myriad pieces of legislation expected via F2F and the Biodiversity Strategies.
We voted not to send the CAP proposal back to the Commission as this would have delayed the Plan’s adoption that must be implemented from 1 Jan 2023. We supported sensible measures that gave flexibility to Member States to ensure that countries could shape their schemes based on local needs.

Organic production: date of application and certain other dates (C9-0286/2020)


I voted in favour of this pragmatic approach to the entry into force of the new Organics Regulation, moving it from 1/1/2021 to 1/1/2022. This additional time will allow farmers and processors in the organics sector the necessary time to adjust and plan for the new legislation and new requirements. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the sector has reported that significant short-term adaptation has been undertaken in relation to the challenges facing production, marketing, securing market access, controls and international trade. In light of this situation, it is widely understood that the full and proper implementation and control of the new Regulation from 1st January 2021 would be an unsustainable burden on a sector already under pressure.
Bord Bia research undertaken in 2017 shows that the Irish organic market is worth EUR162 million with a further EUR 44 million generated by direct sales. There is a growing trend across Ireland and Europe for organically produced products and I am pleased to support the proposal to postpone the implementation of the new legislation that will allow the sector the time to recover from the impact of the COVID crisis before applying the new legislative requirements.

Further development of the Capital Markets Union (CMU): improving access to capital market finance, in particular by SMEs, and further enabling retail investor participation (A9-0155/2020 - Isabel Benjumea Benjumea)


Strengthening and deepening Europe’s capital markets union (CMU) will be an essential element of the recovery of the EU’s economy. The first version of the Commission’s CMU Action Plan, in 2015, lost momentum and faced obstacles. This Parliament, and our co-legislator, must commit to approach the CMU Plan 2.0 with the ambition and effort it merits.
At a time when interest rates are at a historical low, the CMU has the potential to provide our savers and pensioners with the ability to turn to the market to invest for a better return. When SMEs are refused traditional banking loans, they should be able to turn to a multitude of alternative sources of funding through the capital markets.
I strongly support and am a strong advocate for many of the key aspects of this report and its overall message. However, unfortunately, I had to abstain as, yet again, this house included in the report an unnecessary call for the introduction of a CCCTB.

Determination of a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the rule of law


The Fianna Fáil delegation strongly supported the final vote on rule of law breaches in Poland against the LGBTI community.
Every European Union citizen has a right to be treated with dignity and respect. The Polish government, and a number of local authorities, have attempted to diminish the human and civil rights of LGBTI citizens through repressive laws and regulations.
Membership of the European Union is contingent on accepting common values. The responsibilities are, in our delegation’s opinion, as important as the rights and benefits of membership.
The EU is not the ATM of the Member States. It is more than a funding source; it is a union of values – freedom, equality, tolerance and a respect for the rule of law.
We welcome the strong support across most political groups in the Parliament for this resolution, and call on the European Council to be more assertive with the Polish Government.

Draft Council decision on the system of own resources of the European Union (A9-0146/2020 - José Manuel Fernandes, Valerie Hayer)


. – Just as it did in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU must agree upon and implement an ambitious recovery plan. I believe that the EU having the competence to generate its own resources will be crucial to repaying the necessary debt incurred as part of the recovery. In this regard, I welcome the commitment to introduce a plastics tax and a carbon border adjustment mechanism. However, I voted against the Parliament’s report on the draft Council decision on the system of own resources as I believe that the Parliament’s amendments are too prescriptive and risk undermining Member States’ sovereignty. Moreover, Parliament’s proposal for a binding calendar for the introduction of a digital services tax and a common consolidated corporate tax base, among others, pre-empts the outcome of global discussions on these matters. If the EU were to introduce these taxes prior to a global consensus, the EU would risk putting itself at a competitive disadvantage. The EU should turn its focus to making efficiency gains by combating tax evasion, avoidance and fraud, and explore alternative potential sources of own resources under its existing remit.

Just Transition Fund (A9-0135/2020 - Manolis Kefalogiannis)


. ‒ The Just Transition Fund (JTF) is an integral part of how the European Union will support carbon-intensive regions transition towards a greener and more sustainable future. We strongly support measures contained in the JTF to fund enhanced training and education opportunities to support workers who may see their existing jobs being made redundant because of the move to a low or zero carbon future.
In general, we believe that we must transition as quickly as possible to low carbon energy production as well as to a circular economy. However, different Member States are at different stages of the transition so may require investment in certain pieces of gas infrastructure to ensure energy security.
We welcome the rigorous conditions this proposal applies to investments in gas infrastructure, that will require:
• a reduction in carbon emissions;
• that energy poverty is tackled, and:
• that the development of renewable energy sources are not hampered
A one-size fits all approach may be appealing but it may not deliver the results that we all desire – a Europe no longer addicted to fossil fuels for its energy needs.

Setting up a committee of inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to the protection of animals during transport within and outside the Union, and defining its responsibilities, numerical strength and term of office (B9-0191/2020)


. – I voted in favour of setting up a committee of inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to the protection of animals during transport. It is imperative that we uphold high standards of animal welfare and investigate and sanction any contravention of the EU’s rules. However, in doing so, the specificities of Ireland’s farming sector operating on an island must be given due account and I will seek derogations if and where necessary.

Competition policy - annual report 2019 (A9-0022/2020 - Stéphanie Yon-Courtin)


I abstained on the vote on the competition policy annual report as it included an amendment calling for the introduction of an EU-wide common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB). I believe this is fundamentally at odds with promoting European competitiveness and that taxation is, and should remain, a Member State competence. Had this amendment not been in the report I would have been happy to support it as the report is comprehensive and gives a strong political message from this house on some of the competitiveness challenges that face Europe in the coming years.

New MFF, own resources and Recovery plan


. – The Fianna Fáil delegation voted for the compromise MFF, own resources and recovery resolution as EU citizens need an immediate response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are elements in the resolutions, such as paragraph 9, where a reference to the potential introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax base was made, that we oppose. As such we voted against the inclusion of this language. Tax is a national competence. Therefore, the setting of a corporate tax rate in Ireland is a matter solely for the Oireachtas and the Irish Government. Fianna Fáil, in government, would use the veto at EU Council level to defend Ireland’s right to set its own rates.
However, Europe needs a response now. It needs a significant investment and recovery package that supports existing jobs and creates new ones. We need an effective, funded and citizen-sensitive transition to a low-carbon economy. This resolution is the culmination of five political groups, representing the full spectrum of political parties, and is worthy of our support. Compromise is necessary to deliver for the people we seek to represent.

Automated data exchange with regard to dactyloscopic data in the United Kingdom (A9-0100/2020 - Juan Fernando López Aguilar)


I voted against this legislative proposal despite the obvious failings in how the British government is implementing the data exchange agreement with the European Union.
As the only Member State with a land border with the UK, Ireland is in a unique position vis-a-vis this issue. The ability of An Garda Síochána to check finger print data against the information held by the British authorities in the future will be very important in ensuring that criminals do not use the border on the island of Ireland to escape prosecution.
I note that a review from the British government is due by 15 June, and I hope that they will outline a timetable by which they will start to respond to requests with the same level of data that is provided by EU Member States. It is in everyone’s best interests, irrespective of EU membership or not, that data that can be used to track down and prosecute criminals, subject to appropriate data protection safeguards, is made as freely available as possible.