Brussels Briefing

Get a taste of some of the interesting and quirky happenings in Europe from our Europe correspondent, Ann Cahill.

Brussels Briefing

Sun spot tourism tips for Ireland

Deirdre Clune, the Fine Gael Munster MEP, wants all those interested in tourism to get in touch.

She has just been appointed to a new 19-member cross-party tourism taskforce in the European Parliament which plans to drive tourism in the EU through greater cooperation between member states.

With a record 7.74m visitors expected to visit Ireland next year, she believes the industry can learn a lot from favourite holiday destinations such as Spain, Italy and Greece.

However, Ms Clune also observes that the nature of tourism is changing, with the activities Ireland can offer, such as cycling, surfing, diving, and yoga, being a big draw.

She has more Greenways in her sights too and says EU funding for green tourism may be available to convert more disused rail lines.

Challenge to work of court

The International Criminal Court faces a huge challenge to its work, having had to withdraw charges from the Kenyan president Uluru Kenyatta following massive post-election violence in 2007, with 1,200 deaths and 600,000 displaced.

The Hague-based court could not secure the evidence necessary to support charges from the Kenyan government and was unable to battle a huge campaign of fake media reports, attacks in social media that exposed the identity of witnesses, and wide-scale intimidation.

The prosecutor said this was a “dark day for international justice”, while Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice said it was of concern not just to the victims they represent, but to victims of future atrocities.

Investment laws may bite the dust

Three pieces of proposed legislation designed to take some of the casino aspect out of investing are in danger of biting the dust under the new, more political European Commission.

They are raising fears in Brussels that commission promises to be pragmatic mean pleasing business rather than looking after citizens’ interests.

These concerns have been exacerbated by the fact that they are being suggested by Jonathan Hill, the former British financial sector lobbyist and now economics commissioner.

The laws include: The investor compensation scheme to increase compensation for victims of Bernie Madoff-type ponzi schemes; occupational pension funds with stricter rules on investing our pension money; and structural banking reform separating banks’ activities.

Turbine proximity now sounds good

Given the choice, people should live very close to wind turbines, the results of a study on the effects of wind farms suggest.

People living near wind turbines in Poland and the Netherlands were tested to see if it affected them.

The turbines emit low-frequency sounds that the human ear cannot detect, like that made by whales.

But while people may not hear the sound, it can induce feelings of fear, anxiousness, and even a ghostly presence to some people.

However, the biggest study, in Poland, found that those living beside wind farms had a better quality of life than those living further away, while those living 1.5km away reported the worst quality.

Million reasons to stop trade deal talks

A petition asking the European Commission to stop negotiations with the US on a trade deal has the required million signatures — but it is far from sure it will have any impact.

One of the big concerns is agreement to compensate foreign companies when new national laws are judged by trade lawyers to militate against them making profits.

This already operates in several trade deals and the NGO Friends of the Earth has identified 127 cases that have cost governments €3bn since 1994.

Many of these were against newer EU member states, and doubtless many were taken by EU companies through their branches outside the EU.

Speeding up emergency call-out times

ECall, the system that would automatically summon emergency services when a vehicle is involved in an accident, should be up and running in all new cars from the end of March 2018.

Studies in Germany, according to MEP Deirdre Clune, show that in half of all cases in rural areas, emergency services arrived at the scene 10 minutes sooner — which can make a vital difference to victims.

Ireland’s effort applauded by OECD

Ireland got a resounding round of applause from the OECD for its work helping poorer nations, built up from vast experience over the years.

The Environmental Pillar, made up of 28 national environmental organisations, praised the fact that the Government has increased the amount of aid to help communities cope with the effects of climate change and sustainability.

However, they also pointed out that the same is not happening at home, as Ireland is on course to miss the 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets.

It’s not just because of our methane-emitting national herd either, since 80% of our electricity generation depends on fossil fuels compared to an EU average of 40%.

Perhaps the people in Development Aid could be seconded to help out at home for a time.

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox


Saturday, April 17, 2021

  • 18
  • 21
  • 27
  • 29
  • 34
  • 47
  • 46

Full Lotto draw results »