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December 2010

Gay Mitchell defends Ireland's corporate tax rate

Gay Mitchell defending Ireland's corporation tax rate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Dear All, Welcome to the Christmas edition of my newsletter. Over the course of the past two months since my last newsletter, Ireland's public finances have worsened and I have been busy working with my fellow MEPs assuring them that Ireland can and will haul itself out of this difficulty if given solidarity. In addition, I travelled to the DR Congo, to the Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific region, I have hosted two events in the European Parliament, one on palliative care, and the other on the Green Paper for Development. I have also met with the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Commissioner Olli Rehn and exchanged views with the President of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet and the Commissioner for Taxation, Algirdas Ĺ emeta, especially in relation to the situation in Ireland. I hope this newsletter gives you some flavour of the events I have been involved in. With Best Wishes for Christmas and 2011, Gay Mitchell MEP

Last week in Brussels a small group of MEPs took it upon themselves to propose a written declaration which noted Ireland's 'exceptionally low corporation tax rate' and called for the European Commission to advance a proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base and a rate of 25%. Article 115 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union lays out the conditions for the creation of laws pertaining to taxes such as corporation tax. The criteria stipulate that for any such law the Council must act unanimously after consultation with the European Parliament. I stand by a remark I made on RTE's Drivetime that MEPs may as well try to move Christmas Day to the 24th December. The Parliament has no competency in the field of taxation and there must be unanimity in the Council of Ministers. Essentially, it is to the Member States acting together and in full agreement to change tax law. This means that Ireland can veto any proposal that it does not agree with. But we would not be alone; few Member States would allow the EU to determine their corporation tax rates. Former European Commissioner Mario Monti was recently tasked with drafting a 'Report on the Future of the Single Market'. Mr. Monti reported that tax competition did not adversely affect growth in the Single Market and although he called for greater cooperation, he was careful not to make any call for tax harmonisation. Ireland does not have the lowest corporation tax rate in the European

Union. Cyprus and Bulgaria have corporation tax rates of 10% and Hungary is set to change its rate to 10% at the beginning of next year. Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia have only marginally higher rates than Ireland so it is grossly misinformed to single out Ireland among several Member States with low corporation tax rates. During an exchange of views with the Commissioner for Taxation, Algirdas Ĺ emeta, I raised these issues explaining that the Irish people will have a budgetary adjustment of 6 billion Euro next year and are looking at an adjustment of 15 billion over the coming four years. In these circumstances it is insensitive to the point of offensive for MEPs from some Member States to propose raising corporation tax rates in Ireland.

Pension Reform in the EU On 8th December, I chaired a panel discussion on pension reform in the European Union. Pension cost is a huge part of State expenditure and the cuts in Ireland highlight the vulnerability of pensions during difficult economic times. On top of the economic crisis, other difficulties such as demographic ageing, and changing patterns in labour markets are common challenges faced by many EU Member States. These are issues that the EU is confronting at a time when it is vital that EU workers' financial security during retirement is protected.

EU - ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Kinshasa, DR Congo The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly is a unique institution that brings together Members of the European Parliament and elected representatives of the Parliaments of African, Caribbean and Pacific Regions that have signed the Cotonou Agreement.

Gay Mitchell with John Bruton, Liam Cosgrave and Enda Kenny at the launch of his book 'By Dáil Account', in Dublin recently. Published by the Institute of Public Administration, it is a history of the Public Accounts Committee and the Comptroller & Auditor General. The last chapter makes recommendations to bring the Dáil to the cutting edge of holding government accountable.

Gay Mitchell calls for new Dublin marketing campaign as hotel prices now cheapest in Western Europe Recently I called for a new marketing campaign to promote Ireland as a value-for-money holiday destination after a new survey revealed Dublin now has some of the cheapest hotel prices in Western Europe. The latest Price Index highlights the superb value for money our capital city can offer tourists. We need to make sure this message is getting out to as many potential visitors as possible. In recent years Dublin has gained a reputation as a high-class, but

expensive, tourist destination. It’s about time this expensive reputation was challenged. That’s why I’m calling for a new campaign to market Dublin as a value-for-money destination. For example, we need to get the message out that prices for drinks in areas like Temple Bar are not the norm. With consumers the world over watching their spending, Dublin now has a clear advantage over some of the other traditional city break destinations around the world. Not only can Dublin now top cities like Monte Carlo, New York and London in terms of hotel prices, I believe Dublin will impress all tourists who take the opportunity to visit. We must ensure that the reduced travel tax is passed on to visitors to help secure this aim.

The Cotonou Agreement was concluded for a twenty-year period from March 2000 to February 2020, and entered into force in April 2003. It seeks to develop these countries. I attended the second meeting for 2010 of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, from December 1st to 5th. I met with the Ghanaian Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for International Relations of the DR Congo. I also had the opportunity to meet with three Irish army personnel who are on UN duty in DR Congo. I also raised the issues of the Millennium Development Goals, the €1 billion food facility to feed those with no food at present, and property rights so as to give people ownership at the plenary sessions of the Assembly. In the DR Congo, only 16 percent of children attend secondary school—a decrease of 70 percent from primary school. Twenty percent of children in the DRC die before their fifth birthday—currently the ninth worst rate in the world. If we could remind ourselves daily of the sort of conditions people in the DR Congo and other countries face we would see the real need to act with greater solidarity now, especially towards those most in need. 12,000 children per day live because of our aid, 22,000 per day still die. We can make further huge inroads on this frightening figure.

Gay Mitchell with students and staff from Scoil Eoin, Armagh Road, Crumlin

Gay Mitchell and other Irish MEPs meet with EU Commissioner Olli Rehn to discuss the EU-IMF loan to Ireland.

Working Group on Human Dignity The Working Group on Human Dignity, of which I am President, will host a roundtable discussion in the December Plenary session in Strasbourg entitled "Areas of collaboration between EU Member States and the Holy See in the realm of promoting religious freedom, international poverty reduction and other objectives" with the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See, Noel Fahey and the British Ambassador to the Holy see, Belfast born, Francis Campbell. A large number of MEPs have indicated an interest in for what will surely prove an interesting dialogue on how churches and states can cooperate to reduce poverty.

EU does not have any competence in the field of health, I hope it can agree on a set of benchmarks to guide Member States in improving palliative healthcare in their respective countries. The workshop was an opportunity to bring together professionals and healthcare specialists from all over Europe to discuss the status of palliative care in the European Union. The event created a momentum among participants who agreed that improving EU-wide palliative care is necessary. It was highlighted that palliative care is about a strong connection between patient, family and the care team which enables us to meet death with dignity. The focus should not just be on the individual but on the relationships that sustain or harm

the dying person, and that is why we need education and training in this particular field for healthcare specialists. Placing patients' needs at the heart of the debate, and putting palliative care back on the political agenda are the main objectives for the future of palliative care in Europe.

Other Issues I have raised  Screening tests for Cancer  European Small Claims Procedure for European Consumers  Commissioner Reding's opposition of the use of body scanners  EU-Russia links

FACE Workshop on Palliative Care On 16th November, I hosted a cancer workshop in the European Parliament. I take a great personal interest in cancer, and decided to focus the workshop on one of the less debated cancer issues: palliative care, and how to face death with dignity. Even though the

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 Anglo Irish Bank  Cholera and terrible conditions in Haiti

Gay Mitchell and Ann Little of the Irish Epilepsy Foundation. Gay will be hosting a Conference on Epilepsy in the European Parliament in February 2011.

Gay Mitchell'sDecember Newsletter  
Gay Mitchell'sDecember Newsletter  

Gay Mitchell's December Newsletter