Friday 20 September 2019

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INDOpinion

Cork Chamber’s guide to the European elections

Wednesday, 8th May, 2019 4:48pm

On 24 May, you will be asked to vote in the local and European Parliament elections. But do you know who your European candidates are or what they do?

Background

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are elected for a five-year term. Ireland has 13 MEPs in the European Parliament who each represent a regional area. Candidates elected in Cork represent Ireland South. The European Parliament has a total of 751 MEPs, who come together in eight political groups organised by political affiliation.

What does an MEP do and why should you care?

MEPs are your representatives to the European Parliament. They shape the future of the European Union by voting, lobbying and informing the policies adopted by EU institutions. For example, the current European Parliament agreed the abolition of roaming surcharges, which has enabled people to call, text and use mobile data for the same cost at home while travelling in another EU member state.

Your MEP is going to be in Brussels trying to get the best deal from Europe, for you. In this way MEPs shape our city region.

From renovating and redeveloping the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, to the imminent arrival of the Mary Elmes Bridge in Cork City, the European Parliament is investing euros in our back yard and MEPs have the power to decide how and where the EU budget is spent.

Let’s have a look at how the European Union is investing in Ireland:

· Ireland will receive €3.4bn investment by 2020

· €300m in EU investment for social housing by 2020

· Rolling out 5G in Ireland - €1.4bn investment

· 15,000 Irish SMEs to receive €1.5bn funding from EU by 2020

Our EU election priorities – five questions to ask the candidates:

· A Europe that invests in its cities, regions and people

“A good city is like a good party - people stay longer than really necessary, because they are enjoying themselves” — Jan Gehl

Regional development and strategic investment in capital infrastructure is essential to making Ireland a better place to live and work.

From developing the Triskel Arts Centre, to facilitating the Port of Cork’s move to Ringaskiddy, delivering new public and road transport infrastructure, and investing in research and development, we call for continued financial supports to be available via the European Investment Bank to support the delivery of Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan.

· A competitive and cooperative approach to taxation

Small, open economies such as Ireland use taxation policy to attract investment and increase competitiveness relative to its larger neighbours. Recent proposals by the European Commission to change voting for taxation policy has the potential to dilute Ireland’s ability to remain competitive.

We call on new MEPs to defend tax sovereignty of member states and advocate for collective international action on global tax matters such as tax-avoidance and digital tax. Small open economies such as Ireland depend on it.

· An ambitious global trade agenda that delivers for all

The EU has negotiated and secured more than 30 free trade agreements with non-EU countries, most recently with Canada and Japan. The UK’s EU departure poses a major challenge for Irish exporters, particularly SMEs, who will need assistance in accessing new markets and diversifying.

Newly elected MEPs must advocate for global trade and support Irish exporters to benefit from SME-friendly trade agreements.

· A supportive framework for a more sustainable circular economy

More efforts are needed to ensure that the effects of climate change do not continue to increase. Supporting businesses to transition to the low carbon economy should be a top priority for this European Parliament.

We call on MEPs and the European Commission to work together with chambers of commerce to ensure that the transition to a more sustainable business model is promoted in a way that is achievable to business.

· A fully connected digital Europe

The completion of the digital single market has become an important goal for the EU to ensure it maintains its position as a world leader in the digital economy. It will also make it much easier for SMEs to do business online across the EU.

We ask that striving to complete and enforce the digital single market to be a priority for the newly elected members and appointed commissioners.

Get out and Vote

The EU matters to business, people and life in Cork. Under Ireland 2040, Cork has a once in a generation opportunity to sit with the major second cities of Europe such as Manchester, Rotterdam and Hamburg.

We ask that you get to know your candidates, question them on their election priorities, and make sure to use your vote on 24 May so your ideals and values are represented in Europe.

The Europe of tomorrow is in all our hands. Together, let’s make it the best place for people and business.

MEP Candidates 2019 for Ireland South:

Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael)

Sean Kelly (Fine Gael)

Andrew Doyle (Fine Gael)

Malcom Byrne (Fianna Fáil)

Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil)

Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Féin)

Sheila Nunan (Labour)

Grace O’Sullivan (Green Party)

Adrienne Wallace (People Before Profit)

Jan Van De Ven (Direct Democracy Ireland)

Breda Gardner (Independent)

Liam Minehan (Independent)

Diarmuid Patrick O’Flynn (Independent)

Walter Ryan Purcell (Independent)

Peter O’Loughlin (Independent)

Theresa Heaney (Independent)

Dolores Cahill (Independent)

Maurice Sexton (Independent)

Paddy Fitzgerald (Independent)

Mick Wallace (Independents 4 Change)

Allan Brennan (Independent)

Colleen Worthington (Independent)

Peter Madden (Independent)

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