Parliamentary Questions

MEPs can submit questions for written answer to the European Council, the Commission, the External Action Service and the Commission Vice Presidents. Here you will find a full list of submitted questions submitted by Ciarán as well as the written responses from the Commission.

Phasing out fossil gas by 2040

The Council’s emergency measures to reduce gas demand were implemented successfully, exceeding the 15 % target, and have been extended[1] until March 2024. Studies[2] show that this demand reduction could be made permanent, allowing fossil gas to be phased out by 2040. None of the scenarios used by the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change for its 2040 climate target modelling exercise[3] has more than 6 % fossil gas, while other scenarios show that an even earlier phase-out is feasible[4]. Moreover, the REPowerEU forecast of 20 Mt of green hydrogen by 2030 seems too high, given that hydrogen will be used in hard-to-electrify sectors. The Agora report ‘Breaking free from fossil gas’[5] indicates that no more than 4 Mt of renewable hydrogen will be in the system by 2030.

Could the Commission:

  1. Draft and publish, before June 2024, a scenario for achieving 100 % renewables by 2040, including pathways for phasing out gas in the power, industry and buildings sectors?
  2. Propose an EU-wide framework for phasing out gas across sectors, with a ‘fossil gas free’ objective anchored in legislation?
  3. Conduct an independent assessment of projected trends in demand for renewable hydrogen in priority sectors[6], including an assessment of infrastructure utilisation rates, in order to instruct the decommissioning of stranded assets (dismantling and repurposing)?
  1. [1] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/03/28/member-states-agree-to-extend-voluntary-15-gas-demand-reduction-target/.
  2. [2] https://institutdelors.eu/publications/la-securite-dapprovisionnement-gaziere-en-europe/.
  3. [3] https://climate-advisory-board.europa.eu/reports-and-publications/scientific-advice-for-the-determination-of-an-eu-wide-2040.
  4. [4] https://www.pac-scenarios.eu/.
  5. [5] https://www.agora-energiewende.de/en/publications/breaking-free-from-fossil-gas-1/.
  6. [6] Steel, long-distance transport (maritime and aviation).
  7. [7] This question is supported by a Member other than the authors:Rosa D'Amato(Verts/ALE)

Discrimination against non-national teachers (Lettori) in Italian universities

Infringement proceeding INFR(2021)4055 was opened against Italy for non-implementation of enforcement ruling C-119/04, the last of four rulings in a litigation extending 36 years back to the first referral of the Alluè case to the Court of Justice of the EU[1].

Over that period, Italy has denied Lettori their right to parity of treatment, a right which the Commission holds is ‘perhaps the most important right under community law’.

In its reasoned opinion of 26 January 2023, the Commission gave Italy two months to pay settlements for decades of discriminatory treatment. It is very simple to calculate the amounts due to Lettori with reference to the minimum parameter of a part-time researcher or the more favourable parameters prescribed by the CJEU in Case C-119/04. The national census lodged with the Commission, which was conducted by unions Asso.CEl.L and FLC CGIL, Italy’s largest trade union, documents beneficiaries of the sentence.

In defiance of the ultimatum in the Commission’s reasoned opinion, Italy, in a Decree Law of 4 May, has instead legislated for additional time to come up with additional legislation to supposedly meet Treaty obligations it has infringed for over three decades.

Given that the Decree Law essentially only prolongs decades of denial of justice, will the Commission immediately refer infringement case INFR(2021)4055 to the Court of Justice?

Rail safety in the EU

Several recent accidents have raised concerns about rail safety: 57 people lost their lives in Greece in the Tempi railway accident, a collision between two trains in Romania caused multiple casualties, and in the Netherlands, one person died and many more were injured after a train derailed. There are also reports that Slovakia is not complying with the requirements for an independent investigating body as laid down in the Railway Safety Directive[1].

  1. Could the Commission provide a full account of all ongoing Commission and European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) investigations into railway safety, as well as all cases in which the EU requirements on rail safety have been incorrectly or incompletely transposed?
  2. Does it believe that the powers and funding of ERA are sufficient to support the Commission in identifying and tackling rail safety problems?
  3. Does it believe that legislative changes to the rail safety framework are required and if so, what changes are required?

Eurocontrol

Following reports[1]from November 2022 that the airline Ryanair was given special treatment at Eurocontrol, it was reported on 28 March 2023 that Eamonn Brennan, the body’s Director General until December 2022, has joined Ryanair’s board as a non-executive director. This is less than three months after he left Eurocontrol. Such a move from a public body to a private company whose operations are directly affected by the activities of Eurocontrol raises concerns about conflicts of interest. While Eurocontrol is not an EU body, it works very closely with the EU and supports its activities in the field of aviation. Were it an EU body, such a move would contravene revolving door rules and the required cooling-off period set within its institutions.

  1. In the light of the above, does the Council have any concerns over Mr Brennan’s move to Ryanair?
  2. Do the Member States intend to seek a review the body’s statutes to ensure that rules on integrity and transparency, particularly as regards revolving doors and conflicts of interest, are followed?

Value added tax on COVID-19 testing kits

The Commission proposal of 28 October 2020[1]for a Council directive waiving value added tax on COVID-19 testing kits was allowed to expire[2]at the end of 2022. This is despite the hundreds of deaths occurring every day in the EU from COVID-19[3]and the risk of new variants emerging from the COVID-19 surge in China[4].

In the light of the above:

Why has the Commission not renewed its proposal for the aforementioned Council directive?

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