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Ireland’s prime minister telephoned Seán Kelly last week before a vote in the European Parliament’s Industry, Trade and Energy (ITRE) Committee, EurActiv was told.
ITRE ultimately backed an amendment earmarking €5 billion for efficiency by a single vote. South of Ireland representative Kelly had put his name to the clause, before withdrawing it after the call.
Both the Irish PM and Kelly are Fine Gael and members of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament.The EPP is against the ringfence, because it feels any major amendment would open the gates for a slew of further changes. That could slow the Juncker Plan’s progress onto the law books.
The Irish PM told Kelly that his position as leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament meant that he could not go against the EPP, said Claude Turmes, the Green’s energy spokesman. Turmes, a senior MEP from Luxembourg, co-signed the ringfence amendment with Kelly.
Turmes said that the EPP was plotting to overturn the amendment by pressuring its MEPs and using “dirty procedural tricks”.
EurActiv asked both Kenny and Kelly to comment on Friday (17 April). Neither had responded by this morning (20 April).
Even before Kenny’s intervention, EurActiv understands that Kelly, appointed by the Taoisech as leader in August 2014, was under sustained pressure to change his position.
Today, the EPP and the Liberals (ALDE) in the European Parliament are expected to attempt to overturn the ringfence at a joint meeting of the Budget and Economic and Monetary Affairs committees.
That would be controversial as the two committees had signed over sole competence of article five of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) to ITRE.
Under the terms of the agreement, the ringfence should have been carried into talks with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission to finalise the EFSI. A first such three-way meeting is scheduled for Wednesday (22 April).
EFSI is the legislation that will put the Juncker Plan into practice. The plan foresees €16 billion of EU money and €5 billion of European Investment Bank funds being used as investor risk guarantees, to unlock €315 billion public and private investment over the next three years.
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