A special Eurobarometer poll on the Future of Europe shows that 81% of Irish people view the EU as a place of stability in a troubled world, 3rd highest in the EU after Portugal (83%) and Denmark (82%). The EU average is 66% with people in the Netherlands least likely to agree at 53%.
Irish people see the main assets of EU membership as being the economic, industrial and trading power of the EU (34%) and the standard of living of EU citizens (33%). On average across the EU, respondents see the main assets as being the economic, industrial and trading power of the EU followed by the EU's respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law (both 33%).
Irish respondents see the three main challenges facing the EU as unemployment (42%), migration issues (36%), and terrorism and security issues (33%). Across the EU, respondents see the three main challenges facing the EU as unemployment (45%) followed by social inequalities and migration issues (both 36%).
The full report and its annexes can be downloaded here.
Optimism about the future of the EU is highest in Ireland (77%) according to the latest Standard Eurobarometer poll (data collected in November, 1006 people polled). This compares to an EU average of only 50%, with Greece in bottom place at 30%.
The survey also shows that 69% of Irish people (up 14 percentage points since spring) feel that things are going in the right direction in Ireland. This is the highest in the EU where the average is 29%. People in Luxembourg were the second most positive at 61%.
People in Ireland (47%) were also the most positive about the direction in which the EU is going. However, on average across the EU, only 23% of respondents felt that in general things are going in the right direction in the EU.
Today, the Commission has published the non-confidential version of the final negative decision adopted on 30 August 2016 concluding that Ireland gave illegal tax benefits to Apple worth up to €13 billion. This is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. The decision is available under the case number SA.38373 on the competition website.
The marathon runner who had to pay extra because he had an Irish address - the shopper being charged extra by a UK online trader because she was using an Irish credit card - the holiday-maker who couldn't hire a car because she had an Irish licence - these are all traders' tactics which are illegal under EU consumer protection rules.
A new EU report out today finds that shoppers still face unjustified discrimination due to nationality and place of residence, with Ireland sending the third highest number of complaints in the EU.
EU ministers have reached an agreement on fishing opportunities for 2017 in the Atlantic, North Sea and Black Sea, following discussions at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 12 and 13 December. Karmenu Vella, the EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, presented the Commission's proposals, which were the basis for the negotiations.
Are you between 18 and 30 years old? Interested in volunteering or interning abroad?
The European Commission is today launching its European Solidarity Corps, announced by Jean-Claude Juncker earlier this autumn.
The EU's scientific research fund has just announced funding for two small Irish companies with big ideas to get to market.
Cellix Ltd of Dublin have invented a cheap and portable device for detecting contamination in beer taps. And in a sign of the diversity of Irish talent, Enbio Ltd of Limerick have patented a surface primer for use in the European Space sector.
The two Irish SMEs will receive EU grants of up to 2.5 million from the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 funding announced today. The funding is for innovative small firms to get ideas from the lab to the market and help generate growth and jobs in Europe.
Staff from the European Commission, in liaison with staff from the European Central Bank, visited Dublin from 29 November to 2 December to conduct the sixth post-programme surveillance (PPS) review for Ireland. This was coordinated with the International Monetary Fund's sixth post-programme monitoring mission. Staff from the European Stability Mechanism also participated in the meetings on aspects related to its Early Warning System. The main objective of PPS is to assess the country’s capacity to repay loans granted under the former EU-IMF financial assistance programme and, if necessary, to recommend corrective actions.
The European Commission wants new VAT rules for e-commerce.
The Commission wants all parcels coming into the EU to be subject to Value Added Tax. At the moment, parcels labelled as being worth less than €22 escape VAT, in practice giving non-EU sellers an unfair advantage.
As well as this, companies would get a one-stop shop for making quarterly VAT returns, simplifying the procedure and cutting costs.
Finally, e-books and other online publications would be charged the same reduced VAT rates as print publications.
The European Commission has announced a "Clean Energy Package", consisting of nine pieces of legislation which mean a significant overhaul of Europe's electricity market.
It's being described as setting common rules and getting the EU’s various markets better integrated, with the aim of reducing artificial bottle-necks and letting energy flow quickly to where it's most needed. It should also improve renewables in the energy mix, empower consumers and increase energy efficiency.