The Green Jersey

In December 2014, in an Irish Examiner article headlined ‘MEP’S “GREEN JERSEY” FURY’, Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes – while acknowledging that all MEPs did not share the same political philosophy – is quoted as saying that “there are some issues of such significance for Ireland, they break across these ideological barriers”.

This week in Plenary I tabled a number of Amendments (see below) that had the potential to see hundreds of millions returned to Ireland’s coffers from our overpayments to the EU budget over many years.

WHEN THE NUMBERS DO LIE

That Ireland’s GDP figures are grossly distorted and inflated by the presence of so many multinationals is indisputable, highlighted in July last year when in one fell swoop the numbers for 2015 were suddenly declared to have increased by in an incredible 26.3%.

One effect of this is that our national debt/GDP ratio is falsely reduced, gives the impression we’re better off than we actually are. Another effect, however, one that has a very real cost, is that because our annual contribution to the EU budget is based on that GDP figure, we are being over-charged.

Already this year, at a CONT committee meeting, I brought that up with the Commissioner responsible, Günther Oettinger, and he promised that if our Minister for Finance were to make an appeal on that basis, he would examine the situation.

FINE GAEL V THE REST OF IRELAND

My proposed amendments however went a step further, called very specifically for that situation to be altered and for Ireland to be given a refund for 2015, the year in question.

The amendments fell, principally because Fine Gael’s group in the European Parliament, the EPP, voted against.

ALDE too voted against, but Marian Harkin went against her own group and voted in favour.

The S&D (Socialists & Democrats) abstained but Nessa Childers of that group also voted in favour.

Sinn Fein are in my own group, GUE/NGL, and all of their MEPs voted in favour of my amendments.

Fine Gael? Brian Hayes and all his flowery words – “there are some issues of such significance for Ireland, they break across these ideological barriers”? They could have and should have voted with all the other Irish MEPs who are out here; they could even have done what the S&D did, and abstained. They did neither.

All four Fine Gael MEPs – Brian Hayes, Deirdre Clune, Sean Kelly and Mairead McGuinness – voted against all my amendments.

Green jersey? Fine Gael knows and cares about just one colour; they are true blue.

AMENDMENT 29

102.otes that the Court overall audit evidence indicates that revenue is not affected by a material level of error and, in particular, that the examined systems are effective for GNI and VAT-based own resources, that the examined systems are overall effective for the traditional own resources, the key internal controls in Member States visited by the Court being nevertheless partially effective and that the Court found no errors in the transactions tested; notes also, however, that Ireland's GDP is hugely distorted by the presence and activities of many major multinationals corporations and that that distorted GDP was then used to overestimate Ireland's contribution to the EU budget; notes that this was known for many years but was not highlighted until 2016 when there was a 26% increase that occurred almost overnight; notes that the major distortion announced in 2016 related to Ireland's 2015 GDP and suggests that a refund is due to Ireland for that year;

AMENDMENT 30

103.ecalls that a reservation is a means by which a doubtful element in GNI data submitted by a Member State is kept open for possible correction and notes the fact that the Court did not identify serious problems in the lifted reservations reviewed in 2015; advises, however, that in light of the gross distortion of Ireland's GDP for 2015, caused by the presence and activities of many major multinational corporations, such a reservation is now needed for Ireland for 2015;

AMENDMENT 32

Reassess Ireland's EU 2015 budget contribution with a view to changing the basis for assessment from GDP to the more accurate GNP, which in the case of the vast majority of countries are far more closely aligned than in Ireland and which would reflect a truer measure of Ireland's national production;