Making a difference for Dublin

The European Union (EU) has been a key factor in Dublin's growing success since 1973. From investments in public transport infrastructure, to the Single European Market, to Erasmus student exchanges and the end of roaming charges - many of the benefits of EU membership are well known.

These benefits are the outcome of decisions made in Europe, and the European Parliament has a key role to play in this decision-making process. Dublin has 4 MEPs, and Ireland has 13 MEPs altogether. There are 705 MEPs in total, who sit mainly in seven political groups, and their work is spread across 27 topic-focused committees. Like political parties in the Dáil, political groups in the Parliament have their own priorities and they aim to have those priorities reflected in the final laws agreed in Europe.

I am the Green Party MEP for Dublin, and I sit in the Greens/EFA group. You can read about the Greens/EFA priorities in the relevant section below. I represent the Greens on the Transport & Tourism (TRAN) and Industry & Energy (ITRE) committees, and I am a substitute member of the Regional Development (REGI) committee. My key focus areas are housing, energy, and transport.

Housing

We need to build more public housing in Dublin. I’ve seen how cities like Vienna and Copenhagen can achieve this, and I know we can do this in Dublin. We’re promoting the cost-rental model of housing. It has worked well in Austria, and a pilot project is underway in Stepaside.

In Europe my colleague Greens/EFA MEP Kim van Sparrentak has written a report on Decent and Affordable Housing. I’m working to reform EU rules to make it easier for Ireland to build more public housing in the years ahead.

Energy

As an MEP, I sit on the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).  While this committee has a broad competence, my focus in this committee is on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and building renovations. I aim is to tackle climate change to make sure that the EU is a leading player in the energy transition away from harmful fossil fuels towards a renewables-based system. I strongly believe that we need an equitable and just energy infrastructure that not only projects vulnerable citizens at risk of energy poverty and provides clean, safe living space but also protects our environment.

Renovation Wave

In October 2020, the European Commission released its Renovation Wave strategy, which aims to address the EU’s low renovation rates and tackle the underlying barriers for improving the energy efficiency of the EU building stock. I recently authored a report in the European Parliament calling for sustainable recovery through building renovations across Europe. It is clear that the Commission was able to take on board many of the ideas outlined in the Cuffe Report and incorporate them into the renovation wave strategy. We know renovated homes are energy-efficient homes. The more efficient our buildings are, the less greenhouse gas they emit. Up to 40% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the building sector. We need to address this to meet our urgent climate goals. The renovation wave helps us achieve this. It is now up to the Commission and the Member States to ensure that Europe reaps the benefits of increased renovations.

Transport

As coordinator for the Greens/EFA Group on the Transport and Tourism committee, I am involved in the organisation and decision-making concerning the committee’s work. As for the legislative work, the following are just some examples of files I have worked on since being elected:

  • Minimum requirements on maximum daily and weekly driving times, rest periods and tachographs – legislation that sets rules on when and where trucks drivers should take breaks and time-off, among other things. This legislation should help improve driver welfare and road safety by ensuring proper rest is taken and that authorities can better enforce these rules.
  • Connecting Europe Facility: a fund of around €34 billion for transport, digital and energy projects. Unfortunately this legislation will also fund problematic projects such as fossil gas investment, but I helped ensure 60% of the funding will go towards climate-friendly projects.
  • Emergency Covid-19 legislation regulating slots at EU airports: this was to stop the so-called ‘ghost flights’ issue whereby existing EU rules incentivised airlines to fly empty planes in order to retain their rights to slots at airports; this emergency legislation provided exemptions to these rules, which offered relief to airlines and reduced emissions.

Greens / EFA

I am a member of the Green Party (Comhaontas Glas) in Ireland, and so in the European Parliament I sit with the Greens/European Free Alliance political group. We are made up of green parties from across Europe, as well as Pirate parties, Independents, and MEPs from the EFA representing minorities and stateless nations. The Greens/EFA group came into existence in 1999, and is now the 5th largest group in the Parliament comprising 73 MEPs (37 women and 36 men). We have a gender-balanced co-Presidency led by Terry Reintke from Germany, and Philippe Lamberts from Belgium. As the Greens/EFA group we are a progressive force in the European Parliament, fighting for an ecological and socially just transition, in a Europe that celebrates diversity and stands up for minorities.

EUFORES

As well as being an MEP, I am also the President of the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources (EUFORES).

EUFORES is a European parliamentary network with members from all major political groups in the European Parliament, as well as in the national and regional Parliaments of the EU Member States, and works to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. EUFORES facilitates open dialogue between both national and European policy makers with the view of developing Europe’s renewable energy potential. This usually takes the form of a monthly meeting with European Commissioners or high-level stakeholders from the European Institutions as well as with industry experts.  Renewable energy sources are the cornerstone of the European Green Deal and we need our politicians and policy makers to be up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in the field of renewable energy.

You can learn more about the work of EUFORES here.

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