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Childers demands legal protection for whistleblowers across the EU

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News item

Wednesday 25 Oct 2017

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, welcomed the decision by the European Parliament to demand a European legislative framework to protect whistleblowers who come forward with disclosures of misconduct.

Ms. Childers had steered the work on this report for her political grouping in Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

Speaking after today’s vote by the full parliament in Strasbourg, Ms. Childers said:

“We had a horrific reminder of the life and death nature of these matters just this week, as Europe lost a brave investigative journalist in a car bomb murder.

“There has been a litany of high profile disclosures of disgraceful behaviour on a global scale in recent years, including on tax avoidance.

“Yet, the most significant impact we saw on people’s lives was that suffered by the whistleblowers and journalists at the dock, as we saw with the Luxleaks trials.

“This is a farcical and unjust state of affairs, which led me to vote against the Trade Secrets Directive when it came before Parliament.

“Indeed, when egregious misconduct happens not to be explicitly prohibited in legal terms, not only do we often end up with impunity for the perpetrators but also condemnation for those who had the courage to point the finger at them.

“We can no longer tolerate a legal regime that safeguards commercial secrets and at the same time leaves whistleblowers vulnerable to retaliation and even prosecution.

“People’s jobs, good names, and even life and limb are at risk when they take the step to expose wrongdoing.

“Sadly, in Ireland, we are no strangers to this reversal of the scales of natural justice at the hands of the organisations put on the spot.

“I was disappointed to see Fine Gael’s conservative EPP grouping attempting to withhold protection from whistleblowers who reach out to the media in good faith, and then rejecting this motion altogether.

“I call on the Commission to come forward with a proposal as soon as possible.”

ENDS


Green-minded MEPs put more energy on renewables, face headwinds

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News item

Wednesday 25 Oct 2017

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, praised the outcome of a vote this week in the European Parliament to reform the EU’s rules and objectives on renewable energy.

The committee on the Environment in the European Parliament of which Ms. Childers is a member, voted on its own proposals yesterday night. These will be referred to the main committee on industry and energy, where all proposals will be worked on before a full vote over the coming months.

Ms. Childers’ proposals for the new renewables regime focused mainly on eliminating the use of food crops other than waste by-products to make biofuels and the displacement of food production from land for the same purposes.

The Dublin MEP also took the same approach to environmentally disastrous crops such as palm oil and aimed to establish tight criteria allowing the use of forestry waste and residues whilst preventing unsustainable use of trees to generate energy, and ensuring that forest carbon stocks are not depleted.

Commenting on the outcome of the vote, Ms. Childers said:

“I am satisfied to see our committee proposing a higher renewables goal with binding national targets, and particularly happy to see the demand to phase palm oil out by 2021, and a gradual phase-out of conventional biofuels by 2030.

“I am concerned with the lax approach to forestry that we saw

“The conservative members shot down proper biomass sustainability proposals, yet they still found our overall outcome too green to the liking of biofuels producers and voted against the final text.

“I hope our colleagues in the energy and industry committee won’t make this set of proposals any less ambitious before it is put to a vote by the full house.”

ENDS


Childers demands better healthcare access for persons with disabilities

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Press Release

Thursday 19 Oct 2017

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, welcomed the adoption of her demands for improved access to healthcare for persons with disabilities by the Public Health committee of the European Parliament.

Over the past two years, Ms. Childers has been tasked by the Environment and Public Health Committee with monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Europe from a healthcare perspective.

Speaking after the Committee vote in Brussels, Ms. Childers said:

“We have been through almost a decade of austerity and immense pressure on public services, as the crisis increased demand and cuts reduced capacity.

“This means the most vulnerable amongst us have been hit hard, and exclusion worsened.

“We must refocus resources to halt these backwards steps and aim for no less than equal access to the highest attainable standard of health for all, as a fundamental right.

“There is a generalised deficiency when it comes to appropriate care for persons with disabilities, long waiting times and an overall lack of specific knowledge and awareness among care providers.

“This comes on top of the physical and sensory barriers that persons with disabilities need to navigate, and often leads to a needless degradation of the overall condition of patients.

“We are senselessly sacrificing people’s wellbeing, only to make their conditions harder and more costly to treat.

“EU patients have a right to seek treatment elsewhere in the EU, provided they are entitled to that treatment in their home country, and to be reimbursed by their home country to the same tune.

“However, very few EU citizens are aware of this right, and there is even less knowledge and uptake among patients with disabilities.

“This is not surprising, because, besides having to navigate the substantial paperwork the home country administrations demand, the legislation has failed to anticipate and provide for the specific needs and expenses a disability entails when travelling abroad.

“We want to see it reviewed so that in can apply in a non-discriminatory manner.

“There are also problems with a lack of proper legal protection from undue denials of informed consent to treatment, and the specific rights of girls and women with disabilities.

“Ireland stands alone among EU countries for its continued failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“Our record of consistently missing the deadlines we set ourselves speaks poorly for our priorities as a society. We must seriously reassess them.”

ENDS

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Fiscal compact has no place in EU Treaties

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Press Release

Friday 6 Oct 2017

 

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, explains her opposition to the incorporation of the Fiscal Compact into the EU’s treaties, which was debated with the EU executive, in Strasbourg, at this week’s plenary session of the European Parliament:

 

“At the height of the economic crisis, in 2012, almost all EU countries signed up to the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, also known for short as the Fiscal Compact.

 

“It further tightened the fiscal constraints imposed on Member States’ budgets as a condition for access to the loans facilities provided by the European Stability Mechanism, which replaces the temporary mechanisms created to manage the bailouts to Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

 

“This further tightening of the debt brakes foreseen in the Stability and Growth Pact, (which had been created especially with coordination of the Eurozone countries’ finances in mind) was seen as a necessary step when other Euro countries might yet need emergency support, but a conservative majority among the EU leaders would only unblock it under strict fiscal consolidation conditions.

 

“Because two EU Member States did not sign up to the Fiscal Compact treaty, it was signed as a conventional international agreement, outside the aegis of the EU’s treaties and institutions.

 

“Now, those who remain attached to the narrative that profligacy in public expenditure was at the heart of the crisis want to see this treaty fully integrated into the EU treaties.

 

“This would be a further step in a worrisome trend towards the elevation of “golden rules” for balanced budgets to the status of constitutional or quasi-constitutional norms.

 

“What we saw at the start of the Eurozone crisis was essentially a scramble to save the financial sector from its own misdeeds, which dangerously depleted our public coffers.

 

“Because the Eurozone was designed, at Germany’s behest, to prevent fiscal transfers from the fiscally responsible to the spendthrift, as it feared, while the currency’s governance remained incomplete and oblivious to the dynamics of economic integration that created bubbles in the periphery, the system ground to a halt.

 

“Instead of obsessing over public debt, which was a symptom rather than a cause, and tying our hands-on counter-cyclical policy, we should be focussing our attention on other matters to stimulate growth, a necessary green transition and employing our young.

 

“The European Central Bank, after the mistaken involvement in the troikas, has been single-handedly bearing the weight of financial stability and recovery through quantitative easing, whilst the Member States have refused to pull their weight on the fiscal front, which is sorely missing.

 

“This comes with its risks and highlights other failings, such as the lack of accountability and transparency in the goings on of the Eurogroup of finance ministers.

 

“Such matters are much more important than the ideological war on fiscal leeway, which has been very much missing over the lost decade we’ve been through.


Childers rejects free pass on hormone disrupting chemicals

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Press Release

Wednesday 4 Oct 2017

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, hailed today’s blocking, in the European Parliament, of an EU executive proposal to exempt certain pesticides from the EU’s evaluation of whether chemicals can be harmful to hormonal health.

Speaking from Strasbourg, where the vote was held at Parliament’s plenary session this afternoon, Ms. Childers said:

Everyday, we come into contact with endocrine disrupting chemicals which interfere with our hormonal systems by breathing, eating drinking or skin absorption. They are present a vast range of items ranging from food and drink and the respective packaging, cosmetics to toys.

Pregnant women, babies and children are particularly vulnerable to their effects.

Parliament legislated, years back, with the governments of Member States to ban such substances, and gave the EU executive a mandate to set scientific criteria to determine whether chemicals disrupt the normal functioning of hormonal systems, so as to safeguard human health and the environment.

There was nothing in the legislation allowing the EU executive to propose an exemption for pesticides that attack insects’ endocrine systems by design, which will affect non-target species as well.

So we proposed a rejection to the full house from the Environment and Public Health Committee, in the face of a lobby onslaught by chemical industry and the opposition of conservative members, so this outcome was not guaranteed.

Moreover, the criteria which the Commission is belatedly presenting us with have been criticised by the endocrinology community as exceedingly narrow, which can let many chemicals slip through the net.

I’m happy to see a majority of colleagues came to agree with them and with us, in the Environment and Public Health Committee. The Commission has dragged its feet over the years, was even taken to the EU court over their failure to act on endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and they still fail to properly implement the legislation we’ve approved here.

We need the EU executive to get back to work and propose scientific criteria which will effectively contribute to protect us, the environment and future generations from the harm these chemicals cause.”

ENDS