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MEP opposes EU commissioner's call for elimination of State aid

Fianna Fáil’s Pat the Cope Gallagher said parts of Ireland would not have any industry if it wasn’t for the procurement of State aid.

Fianna Fáil MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher in Strasbourg last week.
Fianna Fáil MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher in Strasbourg last week.
Image: TheJournal.ie

IRISH MEP PAT the Cope Gallagher has said that he has met with the European Commissioner for Competition Joaquin Almunia to convince him to reconsider his position on the issue of State aid.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie in Strasbourg last week, Gallagher said that the commissioner is “anxious that over a period that there should be a reduction in State aid or that it should be eliminated in this liberal age”.

Last year, the European Commission set out a State aid reform programme with the aim of streamlining rules. The procedure is currently at the inter-service consultation stage with proposals circulated to all EU commissioners for their views but the parliament and the member states have no formal role in the process which is the reason for Gallaghers request for a meeting on the issue.

The Fianna Fáil MEP said that parts of Ireland “wouldn’t have any industry if not for the fact that we’re able to provide funding to companies who are anxious to  establish there”.

“If we take foreign direct investment and the number of companies that are investing in Ireland, I’m quite sure that they would not have invested if there wasn’t State aid,” he said.

In a meeting with the commissioner, Gallagher said he explained the difficulties it could cause for Ireland to him “by way of maps”, showing him some of the more remote areas of the country.

“I do believe that he took into consideration the case that I made and it will be tweaked sufficiently to allow parts of Ireland where we have high unemployment to continue to attract foreign direct industry but also , of course, and equally important, indigenous investment,” he added.

A decision by the commission is expected to be made in the next couple of months and the new rules will be in place by January of next year.

Read: European Parliament approves plan to cut Ireland from 12 MEPs to 11>
Read: MEPs shoot down leaders’ proposals for seven-year EU budget>

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