News update from Seán Kelly MEP, Leader of the Fine Gael Delegation in the European Parliament
Welcome to my October 2017 newsletter. This past month has been filled with productive meetings and important reflection on a variety of topical issues. Travelling between Ireland, Brussels and Strasbourg I have had a very active few weeks. Below you can read all about the work I have been doing both at home and in the European Parliament during this time.
As always I am continuing to work on a wide range of issues on your behalf and if I can be of any assistance to you at any time, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Is mise le meas,
The WannaCry ransomware attack in May of this year showed the dangers posed to citizens in our increasingly digital world. This month in the Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) I welcomed Commissioner Gabriel’s proposal to reform the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) into a stronger EU Cyber Security Agency, strengthening coordinated EU response to cyber security.
However, we must focus on strengthening international cooperation in this area as well. I therefore put the question to the Commissioner whether there is scope to increase global cooperation, and suggested a global conference on cyber security.
Meeting with Kimmo Tiilikainen, Finland's Minister for Environment, to discuss the Renewable Energy Directive
European Citizen's Prize
Congratulations to Foróige on the 2017 European Citizen's Prize! I nominated Foróige - along with my Fine Gael colleagues here in the European Parliament - because of the tremendous work it does for young people across Ireland with volunteer-led clubs and youth projects. It was my great pleasure to meetSandra McIntyre, National Chairperson of Foróige and Seán Campbell, CEO of Foróige, who graciously accepted the award here in Brussels.
The European Citizen's Prize promotes cross-border cooperation, mutual understanding and EU values. Foróige follows in the footsteps of many excellent Irish winners from previous years such as CoderDojo, the Blue Star Programme and the Offical GAA, all of which I was delighted to nominate.
This month I met with Brian McGee, Market Development Director of Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCoI), to discuss Geographical Indications (GIs) for craft products. DDCoI is based in Kilkenny, and is the main supporter of the design and craft industry in Ireland.
GIs have been successful for Irish food products such as the Waterford Blaa and Irish whiskey. Their extension to craft and design product would help to preserve Irish heritage and traditional crafts, increase growth in rural areas, and boost trade in these products across the EU. Each EU region has different heritage and product tradition; it is important to ensure these are protected.
End Daylight Savings
Myself and many other MEPs continue to campaign for the end of Daylight Savings time. We called on the European Commission again this month to bring forward proposals to abolish this archaic practice. As the only Irish member of the group, I have voiced serious concerns regarding the time change.
One of those concerns are the health and safety issues that this change of time causes to citizens. Several studies show that going against the natural rhythm has a huge impact on sleep and overall health and wellbeing. I am therefore fully supportive of a European Parliament Motion to end the practice, as it is avoidable and outdated. We must address the issue of daylight savings and put an end to this unnecessary exercise.
Meeting withIrish Emergency Services at the Meet Your MEP Event in Brussels
This month I met Irish Emergency Services representatives who talked about their work and experiences. Our emergency service workers are so important and any opportunity I have to discuss requirements and policy issues is essential.
A cancelled flight due to Storm Ophelia meant I missed this year's EUDojo event which I host with CoderDojo in the European Parliament every year. However, I am delighted that all my invited guests and the amazing coding ninjas enjoyed a wonderful day in Brussels teaching MEPs how to code!
The CoderDojo Foundation is a fantastic non-profit organisation empowering young girls and boys with both technical skills and confidence! Well done to all! With over half a million tech job vacancies expected within the EU by 2020, computer programming events such as this are extremely beneficial.
Pictured below are the excellent CoderDojo ninjas with Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society and Giustina Mizzoni, CoderDojo Executive Director.
This month I was fortunate to meet with the wonderful transition year students of different schools in Ireland-South. It was an honour to present the annual awards in Scoil Mhuire Kanturk. All of the teachers, pupils and parents came together for a wonderful evening to celebrate their achievements of the past year. I also met with Spanish and Italian students and got the chance to discuss the Irish education system with them.
I visited Millstreet Community College and Scoil Ioseph in Kilmallock where I was interviewed by more enthusiastic transition year students! As a former teacher and now a politician, it is always insightful to get a student’s opinion on our education system and other issues that concern them.
"Mhol an oige agus tiocfaidh siad."
With my wife Juliette, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and Darra Kelly at the Fine Gael Presidential Dinner
With the Ennis National School Band who led us through the streets of Ennis for the 'Walk a Mile for the Blind' event organised by Seeking Vision Clare
News from Brussels & Strasbourg to Ireland
Storm Ophelia has caused devastating destruction across Ireland this month and I would like to express my deepest sympathies with the families of the three people who tragically lost their lives during the storm in counties Waterford, Tipperary and Louth.
Regrettably the Storm left behind significant damage throughout the country. I was very grateful to meet with officials from the European Commission to discuss the options available to Ireland from the EU Solidarity Fund, as we try to repair the damage caused by Storm Ophelia.
Here's a short video recap of the first Plenary week in Strasbourg this month. Some key issues tackled week were Brexit and the possibility of an open-ended transition period, ending INTRA-EU call charges, the ending of biofuels and the abolition of daylights savings time.
This month all four Fine Gael MEPs called for less grandstanding and more engagement by the UK in the ongoing Brexit negotiations. We made the call following the adoption of a European Parliament Resolution which concluded that insufficient progress has been made in the talks so far. I believe that it is time the UK got serious about Brexit negotiations. Then we can focus on creating constructive strategies for trade between the UK and Europe, particularly Ireland. This is undoubtedly a major issue for us and we have to ensure a best possible outcome for trade relations between Ireland and the UK. Throughout Brexit negotiations I continue to voice Irish concerns and see that our best interests will be protected by the rest of Europe amidst Britain's departure from the Union.
Climate change is one of the most threatening problems faced in modern times. To combat this, the UN Climate Change Conferences (COP23) have set out global goals.
The Economic and Financial Affairs Council have established the EU position on financing climate change ahead of COP23, which will take place in Bonn in November. The Council highlighted the importance of financing sustainable investment, and recognised that the collective mobilisation goal of USD 100 billion per year by 2020 is essential to drive the transformational change envisaged by the Paris Agreement.
I have been working on climate change for the last number of years, and having been present for the historic Paris Agreement in December 2015 at COP23, I welcome these positive conclusions.
This month the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive was passed in the ITRE Committee. The Directive is part of the Clean Energy Package, and it will be of great benefit to EU consumers as well as the environment.
Here’s a quick video recap of the second October session in Strasbourg. Some of the main issues discussed that week were, the authorisation of the weedkiller glyphosate, the opening of trade talks with Australia and New Zealand and the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
It has been a very productive month indeed! I look forward to the coming months both at home and in the European Parliament where I continue to work on behalf of the people of Ireland South. If you have any enquiries please do not hesitate to contact me.