Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection position regarding the ECJ ruling as to the Irish State’s obligation to adequately protect the pension entitlements of former Waterford Crystal employees; when the judgment is likely to go to be reviewed in the High Court.
Reply from Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton: The ruling by the European Court of Justice was in response to a reference by the High Court seeking clarification of the interpretation of European law emanating from EU Directive 2008/94EC on the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer.
Following the ECJ ruling, the matter will now revert to the High Court for consideration. It is anticipated that the Court will set a date for the hearing of this case shortly.
Answered on July 9, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will outline Ireland's financial contribution to the European Space Agency each year since 2002 inclusive.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Irish companies or persons who have won contracts awarded by the European Space Agency each year since 2002 inclusive.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the proportion of Enterprise Ireland's annual budget, in percentage and actual terms, which is devoted to space-related enterprise supports and activities.
Reply from Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Sean Sherlock: (I propose to answer PQs, 262, 263 and 264 together.) The table attached at Appendix 1 sets out Ireland’s contribution to the European Space Agency (ESA) each year from 2002 to 2012 together with the number of contracts awarded by ESA to Irish companies and other entities. The number of contracts is based on data provided by ESA.
Ireland’s investment in ESA is channelled directly through my Department’s Vote and, as such, Enterprise Ireland has no specific funding ring-fenced for space related enterprise supports and activities. However, all Enterprise Ireland R&D support programmes are available to space companies and 3 rd level institutions where any such applications meet the relevant programme criteria. Enterprise Ireland has 2.5 staff members devoted to space related enterprise supports and activities such as helping companies to secure international funding from Framework Programme 7 and European Space Agency contracts.
Answered on June 26, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to Eurostat data showing that citizens of other EU states living here had a higher employment rate than Irish nationals in 2012; and the reason, in his view, this is the case.
Reply from Minister Richard Bruton: Higher employment rates among migrants when compared to the native populations in their destination countries is a common and observable feature internationally. This may be explained by several factors:
Firstly, movers from the EU-12 (i.e. all recently accessed countries including EU-10 and EU-2) tend to be on average younger than the overall population in their destination countries, this will impact on relativities with native populations which will have a larger proportion of people outside of the working age.
Often migrants enter a country without family members for both practical reasons and due to the typical age profile of migrants which are often relatively young and may not yet have started a family. This can affect statistics in that migrants may not have the same level of non-working adult dependents as native populations.
Furthermore, mobile workers invariably have fewer ties to their receiving country. They have a predisposition to exit the country during periods of economic downturn, reflecting the fact that the main reason for their move abroad was to find work.
In sixteen EU Member States, working age citizens of other EU countries had a higher rate of employment than the rate for nationals of their receiving country. Rates were highest in Slovenia (80.2), Latvia (76.6), the Netherlands (76.1), the United Kingdom (75.9) and Poland (75.8). The gap between the average employment rate of working age citizens of other EU countries and the local population is highest in Italy, the UK, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg. It should be noted that using the EU LFS to estimate the number and characteristics of resident foreigners, and in particular "EU foreigners", can suffer limitations. Among these limitations, in the case of Slovenia, Latvia and Poland, are the small sample size which affects the reliability of data broken down by citizenship.
In recent years the annual EU Labour Force Surveys have shown that working age citizens from the EU-10 (the group of ten countries that joined the European Union in 2004) and the EU-2 (Bulgaria and Romania acceded in 2007) had a higher rate of employment on average when they moved abroad than the residents in the receiving EU-15 countries (by a difference of +9 percentage points in 2010). Since 85% of the EU-10 as well as the EU-2 nationals living in other Member States are of working age (i.e. aged 15-64) compared to 67% of the total resident population, intra-EU movers from the EU-10 and EU-2 countries are more likely to be in the economically productive period of their lives than the native population in the receiving countries.
Answered on June 18, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a new European Commission study, The Gender Gap in Pensions in the EU, indicates that Irish women aged 65 years and over receive an average pension which is 35% lower than the average for Irish men in the same age group; her view on the reason for this imbalance; and the efforts being made to address same.
Reply from Minister Joan Burton: The recently published European Commission report, ‘The Gender Gap in Pensions in the EU’, deals with the gender gap in pensions across Europe and is the first study of its kind. The study reveals that across the 27 EU Member States, women who are currently in receipt of pensions, receive average amounts which are 39% lower than those of men. For Ireland, the report indicates this pensions gender gap is 35%.
The report considers total income received from all sources including State, occupational and private pensions. I am pleased to note that for those on modest levels of income, which would broadly include the State pension, the report details that the gender pensions gap in Ireland is considerably lower at 3.5% compared to the EU average of 48.7%. This indicates that the Irish State pension has been successful in providing citizens with a basic level of income in a more gender balanced manner than our European counterparts.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the timetable for common agricultural policy negotiations over the coming days.
Reply from Minister Simon Coveney: Following what I think were extremely useful and productive informal discussions between the Council, European Parliament and Commission in Dublin earlier this week, my attention is already firmly focused on what I hope will be the final phase of the CAP reform negotiations over the coming weeks, culminating in an overall political agreement between the three institutions at the end of June.
The three institutions have been involved in so-called ‘trilogue’ negotiations since early April. These trilogues are scheduled to continue across all four CAP reform dossiers until 20 June, and it is intended that these discussions will resolve the vast majority of issues, which could be described as being of a largely technical nature. A separate and parallel informal process of discussion on the most sensitive political issues, which fed into the formal May Council and continued in a more substantial way at the informal meeting in Dublin, will also continue right through the month of June. These are the issues that will prove most difficult to resolve, and it is hoped that this parallel process will reduce the number of such issues to a manageable number of outstanding points that will be finalised, from a Council perspective, at the meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Luxembourg from 24-26 June.
It is worth noting that in the course of the informal meeting in Dublin, all three European institutions re-stated their commitment to reaching an overall political agreement by the end of the Irish Presidency. This encouraging statement of intent, which was reinforced by the constructive approach taken by the participants, makes it clear that the target of reaching an overall agreement by the end of June remains very much on schedule.
::: The European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg
May 29, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of decisions handed down by the European Court of Human Rights specifically referring to rulings of the Irish Supreme Court since joining the European Union; and the specific regulatory or legislative action taken by Ireland as a result of each decision.
Reply from Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: I have understood the Deputy’s question to relate to judgments and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights concerning Ireland. The European Court of Human Rights issues judgments and decisions relating to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court and Convention operate within the framework of the Council of Europe rather than the European Union, but it is hoped that the EU will shortly accede to the Convention. Ireland signed the Convention on 4 November 1950 and ratified it on 25 February 1953.
I have annexed a list of the 45 judgments and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights which refer to rulings of the Irish Supreme Court. In 20 of these cases, the Court did not find a violation of the Convention and 7 others were settled.
Answered on May 28, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Defence the amount spent on peace keeping operations over each of the past five years; and if he will itemise the spend.
Reply from Minister Alan Shatter: Amounts paid in respect of the remuneration of military personnel serving with UN and EU peace support operations, together with travel and subsistence and transportation costs (troops and freight), for each of the past five years, are set out in the table above. Equipment costs are not included in the figures, as equipment is generally not procured for a specific mission.
Arrangements for the reimbursement of certain costs have been agreed with the UN. Amounts actually received from the UN in the relevant years are:
Answered on May 28, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked ask the Minister for Finance the projections for the overall national debt levels here for each of the next ten years; and the estimated amounts of interest to be paid in each of those years.
Reply from Minister Michael Noonan: National debt is essentially the debt of the Exchequer and is a subset of general government debt. General government debt is the measure of the total debt of the State used for comparative purposes across the European Union.
The latest forecasts available going out to 2019, have been published recently in the Stability Programme Update (SPU). The table above restates the forecast for general government debt as contained in the SPU and also contains the forecast nominal amounts for debt and interest.
Source: Department of Finance
Notes: Rounding may affect totals
Answered on May 28, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding his Department’s deliberations on the Living City Initiative in terms of maximising its uptake in Waterford and Limerick, and securing the necessary EU approvals.
Reply from Minister Michael Noonan: Finance Act 2013 includes a section on the Living City Initiative which introduces a scheme of tax incentives focusing on the regeneration of the historic centres of some of our main cities. The scheme which will be introduced by Ministerial order, will apply in the first instance on a pilot basis only to specified regeneration areas in Waterford and Limerick.
I indicated in my budget speech in December last year that I would examine proposals for a targeted incentive for already identified regeneration areas. The tax relief that will apply under this scheme will operate for five years from the date of commencement.
However, it is my intention that before it begins, the scheme will be subject to an ex ante cost benefit analysis and, subject to a positive outcome from the analysis, I will seek EU approval under State Aid rules for this initiative to be commenced for Limerick and Waterford cities.
Now that Finance Act 2013 is law, my department has been working on a request for tender document and I expect the tendering process for the cost benefit analysis project to begin shortly.
Tuesday, 23rd April, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Green Card applications that have been approved to date under the Special Assignee Relief Programme in each of the categories legislated for, that is jobs with annual remuneration of €60,000 or more, and jobs with annual salaries of €30,000 – €59,999.
Reply from Minister Richard Bruton: The ‘Green Card’ Employment Permit is designed to attract highly skilled people into the labour market with the aim of encouraging them to take up permanent residence in the State. Eligible occupations under this type of permit are deemed to be critically important to growing Ireland’s economy, are highly demanded and highly skilled, and in significant shortage of supply in our labour market...
Dáil Éireann allocates a certain amount of time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during which Deputies may ask questions of Members of the Government relating to Public Affairs connected with their Departments, or on matters of administration for whch they are officially responsible. The Taoiseach answers questions on his own Department on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.