Questions Nos. 1 to 10, inclusive, answered orally.

Copyright Legislation Review

Questions (11, 13)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

11. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the timeline in which he expects the Government to respond to the report and draft Bill of the copyright review committee; if he will indicate at this stage the further consultations he plans with members of the public and interested parties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50526/13]

View answer

Dara Calleary

Question:

13. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to update copyright legislation to support the development of the digital industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50553/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 13 together.

A Report entitled “Modernising Copyright” compiled by the independent Copyright Review Committee comprising Dr Eoin O’Dell of Trinity College, Professor Steve Hedley of University College Cork and Ms Patricia McGovern of DFMG Solicitors was published on 29 October 2013 last. The Report followed from the establishment in May 2011 of the Copyright Review Committee to examine current Irish copyright legislation to identify any areas that might be perceived as creating barriers to innovation and to make recommendations as to how these barriers might be overcome through changes to legislation.

In Ireland, as in many countries throughout the world, there has been a growing recognition of the need to ensure that copyright legislation remains fit for purpose in the digital age and the specific challenges that it presents. This is also an issue on which the EU is currently deliberating and I understand that the European Commission has announced its intentions to undertake a consultation on copyright later this month in the context also of its review of the copyright acquis.

The Report, published by the Copyright Review Committee, involved an extensive consultation process by the Committee, and contains in excess of 60 recommendations covering a diverse range of copyright issues. My Department is currently engaged in conducting a detailed analysis of the recommendations in the Report which I expect will take until early 2014 to complete. I would hope thereafter, to be in a position at that point to bring the results of our examination to Government with recommendations including in relation to proposed legislative amendments. As part of our initial examination of the Report’s recommendations, I am very interested in hearing the views of all interested parties so that, as a first step, my Department has arranged for the convening of a public Forum at which the members of the Copyright Review Committee will be present to present on the Report and to respond to issues arising. This Forum is being held in the Royal Irish Academy on 9 December next and registration for the Forum can be completed on my Department’s website at www.djei.ie.

Jobs Protection

Question No. 13 answered with Question No. 11.

Questions (12, 32)

Clare Daly

Question:

12. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will ensure that the skilled and profitable Pratt and Whitney Aerospace operation, which employs over 100 workers and has operated successfully for decades in Dublin, continues its maintenance operation here. [50318/13]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

32. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps he has taken to assist in protecting the 400 jobs under threat at Lufthansa Technik. [50320/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 32 together.

Both Pratt and Whitney and Lufthansa have had to undertake a global review of their operations. In Pratt and Whitney’s case, a decision was taken by the parent company to transfer dwindling customer requirements to a site in the US. This has resulted in the phasing out of older technologies and products. However, the company still has excess capacity across its engineering/maintenance/repair operations. Indeed 4 other such sites had already been closed by the company. This is the key determinant in their decision to initiate a process which is likely to cease production at the Rathcoole plant and to introduce a redundancy programme there, on a phased basis, over the next eighteen months. 107 jobs will be impacted by the programme.

IDA have engaged regularly with the company over recent years in order to assist them address the challenges they faced in a very fast-changing and competitive marketplace. This involved advice and support towards addressing issues that arose for the company from time to time. IDA arranged that the company became involved in a wider grouping of International Engineering companies, based in Ireland, which IDA established, in order to benefit from shared experiences and facilitate capacity building. In addition IDA met with senior management for Pratt and Whitney in the USA in October 2013 and, also, they have held ongoing engagement with the wider parent group, United Technologies, in the USA .

In the case of Lufthansa, the decision to enter into a consultation process with the workers was taken following an extensive review of operations, in the context of declining revenues and shrinking international market opportunities. The company has pointed out that enhanced quality and efficiencies of the new generations of aircraft engines – with reduced need for overhaul – has impacted on their business with fewer engines becoming available for service. There are also complex changes in the dynamics of aircraft maintenance, including engine refurbishment, worldwide, which have knock-on impacts in facilities such as those in Ireland. As you will appreciate, the ultimate decision in these cases is made by the parent company, on strictly commercial grounds, and on what is seen by the company as being in the best interests of the group as a whole.

I have met senior executives of the company on three occasions since taking office and IDA has been engaged with them very frequently over recent years in an effort to find solutions to the difficult business environment they face. The IDA arranged the intervention of the State’s Industrial Relations service at a time of Industrial Relations difficulties and considerable progress was achieved on that issue at the time. IDA also approved a training grant to train the production workers on a new engine type which enabled the company to take on new business. As various other issues arose there was regular contact between the IDA and company management to provide advice and information. However the current challenges are very significant.

IDA Ireland has met with company management in both cases with a view to creating a profile of the Rathcoole plants, and of the workforces and their skills, for marketing purposes by IDA’s global team. IDA will remain in on-going contact with the companies during the next 12-18 months. In addition, I have arranged that Enterprise Ireland will engage with the company to explore whatever other options might be possible, taking into account that Agency’s remit and experience in supporting the Irish-owned engineering sector.

I am conscious of the highly-skilled workforces at both companies and have asked IDA to explore the possibility of securing a takeover or buy-out for either company. I want to assure the House that all that can be done by the State’s agencies in an effort to secure a positive result for the employees at both companies is being done and will continue to be done, including any appropriate upskilling of the employees affected.

Question No. 13 answered with Question No. 11.

Trade Agreements

Questions (14)

Micheál Martin

Question:

14. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to expand market access in the United States of America. [48807/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

One of the key means to expanding market access in the US will be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The decision by the EU Trade Council last June to formally launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US was the outcome of a key Government objective for Ireland’s EU Presidency. Now that the negotiations are underway, we will fully play our part in supporting the EU Commission in getting the best deal possible for Ireland and the EU.

The mandate on the EU side is a broad ranging one, covering virtually all sectors of economic interest. It builds on the outcome of the work of the EU-US High Level Group that recommended that negotiations on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement between the EU and the US should aim to achieve ambitious outcomes in three broad areas, namely market access, regulatory barriers and non-tariff barriers, and rules addressing shared global trade challenges and opportunities. With this wide scope for negotiation, market access opportunities should follow.

I fully intend to ensure that these opportunities can be exploited through the activities of the agencies under my remit. Enterprise Ireland’s remit is to maintain and grow jobs in Irish companies by driving the growth of Irish-owned companies in overseas markets. In that context, Enterprise Ireland is working with Irish companies to assist them entering and expanding into the US market. Since taking office, I have undertaken 9 trade and investment missions to the United States. I have also initiated a joint working group between IDA and EI to develop the possibility for global sourcing by Irish companies.

The USA is a key overseas market for Enterprise Ireland’s client companies; in 2012 Enterprise Ireland clients’ exports to the USA amounted to €1.56 billion (approximately 10% of total client exports), representing a 20% increase over 2011 figures, making the USA a priority market for our clients. Enterprise Ireland has 4 offices in the USA, in New York, Boston, Silicon Valley and Texas. The Texas office was newly opened this year. All 4 offices are on the ground, working in partnership with Irish enterprises, providing a cohesive set of supports to help them exploit the opportunities of the US market.

Industrial Development

Questions (15)

Dara Calleary

Question:

15. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the way Irish pharmaceutical companies will be supported to avail of the opportunities for increased production and employment following the recent increase in new drug approvals by the US Food and Drug Administration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50550/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Life Sciences sector is central to the Action Plan for Jobs and in particular for Enterprise Ireland’s (EI) strategy to support its indigenous Irish clients to create jobs. As far as EI clients are concerned, the approval of a number of new drugs by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2013 is expected to provide limited opportunity for the indigenous pharmaceutical companies in the short term. The indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturing companies are mainly focussed on over the counter and generic pharmaceutical products and sold mainly in the UK and Europe. Those companies have access to all the full suite of state supports available to indigenous industry. If any opportunities arise for indigenous pharmaceutical companies, Enterprise Ireland will bring all its supports to bear in support of such opportunities. Enterprise Ireland continues to work closely with IDA Ireland to link indigenous companies with their FDI counterparts and this may generate some opportunities in support, services and sub contract manufacturing.

IDA are seeing some positive investment trends from existing and new clients concerning the manufacture of newly approved drugs in Ireland. Many of these new drugs are low volume and can be accommodated in existing Irish sites. However many of the newly approved drugs are biotech drugs and may well require greenfield, expansion investments and new job creation in bio-manufacturing.

Central to the continued success of Irish companies internationally has been their R&D capabilities, leadership and management strengths and collaborative partnerships with some of the world’s leading companies in the sector. The indigenous company base has extensive capabilities across the pharmaceutical and biotechnology supply chain including drug discovery, development and drug delivery; the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients; the manufacture of human and veterinary finished products; the provision of pharma services, including clinical trials management, regulation, engineering and construction.

The indigenous bio-pharmachemical sector plays a key role in this ecosystem and consists of approximately 100 Enterprise Ireland client companies. This sector has been growing at an average of 14% per annum over the last four years. In 2012, the sector had exports of over €450M, and employment of over 2,500 people. The indigenous sector is highly innovative and dynamic with companies competing successfully in international markets throughout the world e.g. Sigmoid, Opsona, Alimentary Health, ICON, Chanelle, TopChem, Barclays, Eirgen, Arran Chemicals etc.

The State has invested heavily through Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in the development of a World-class Research Infrastructure by funding industry-academic research collaborations, Industry-led research programmes, Technology Centres and the Technology Gateways Programmes through the likes of the National Institute for Bioprocess Research and Training (NIBRT), the Solid State Pharmaceutics cluster and the Pharma Technology Centre. These centres aim to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the Irish biopharma industry by investing in research on next generation manufacturing processes and training & education of people to work in this industry.

A key focus for Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and other relevant stakeholder bodies is to promote and build expertise in ‘biological’ research, development and manufacture such that Ireland continues to develop as a globally recognised ‘biopharmaceutical hub’. The NIBRT facility has been effective in bringing training on large molecule manufacturing processes to the sector in Ireland that has successfully attracted and developed globally leading programmes from Allergan, Amgen, Centocor, Eli Lilly, Genzyme, Merck, Biomarin and Pfizer, as examples. Ireland now has a globally leading biopharmaceutical cluster in the next generation of pharmaceutical products.

IDA Ireland, through its overseas network, remains committed to maintaining and growing relationships with key decision makers in the pharmaceutical industry and can offer a wide variety of assistance to companies to support new investment and uplift in technical capability of existing clients.

Trade Agreements

Questions (16)

Dara Calleary

Question:

16. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on the potential benefits and risks for Ireland from the Mercosur trade talks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50549/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The EU-Mercosur trade negotiations take place in the context of the EU’s common commercial policy. The EU Commission leads the talks for the EU. Negotiations on an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement were launched in 2000, suspended in 2004 due to substantial differences on the trade part of the agreement, and resumed again in May 2010. Since then, nine negotiating rounds were held, the last one in October 2012. These rounds focused on trade rules. At the EU-Mercosur trade ministerial meeting held in Santiago on 26 January 2013, the EU and Mercosur agreed to exchange offers on market access concessions for goods, services and government procurement not later than in the last quarter of 2013. I understand that while the EU Commission is currently preparing the draft EU offer, it is not clear if the EU and Mercosur offers will actually be exchanged before the end of this year.

Brazil, the largest economy by far in Mercosur, is important for Ireland’s future export growth. It is identified in the Strategy for Trade, Tourism and Investment as a key priority market for trade and investment. Both Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland have offices in Brazil to attract inward investment and help create new exporting business for Irish firms. Improving export performance in faster growing emerging economic blocs such as Mercosur is important for our economic recovery and for creating new jobs. Access to the EU beef market is a sensitive issue for Ireland in these negotiations. The EU Commission is very well aware of this and I expect this to be reflected in the preparation of the EU’s offer. As the Mercosur negotiations develop I will ensure our economic interests in this agreement are both promoted and defended to the fullest extent possible.

Employment Rights

Questions (17)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

17. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when the expected workplace relations legislation will be moved in Dáil Éireann; and the steps taken by the Government to enhance and develop workers’ rights since coming to power. [50483/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Government is committed to reform of the State’s existing Workplace Relations Services. Shortly after entering office, I committed to a fundamental reform of the workplace relations system. The overall objectives are to promote harmonious and productive employment relationships and to encourage early resolution of disputes, the vindication of employees’ rights and minimisation of the costs involved for all parties - employers, employees and Government - in terms of money, time and workplace productivity.

I propose to establish a two-tier Workplace Relations structure which will involve two statutorily independent bodies replacing the current five. We will have a new single body of first instance to be called the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and a separate appeals body, which will effectively be an expanded Labour Court. A significant amount of work has been completed on the preparation of the Workplace Relations Bill. Enactment of the Bill will necessitate amendments to 22 primary acts, 12 specified parts or sections of acts and 71 statutory instruments. My Department has been engaging with the AG's Office on an on-going basis to progress the drafting of the Bill and I am committed to the publication and enactment of the legislation at an early stage with a view to having the proposed new Workplace Relations structures in place during 2014.

In addition to the progression of the enabling legislation, much work has already been completed or is underway in relation to the enhancement of efficiency, effectiveness, business processes and technology, within the bodies concerned. This Government has also introduced a wide range of measures to establish and protect the employment rights of workers and to provide the policy, legislative and institutional framework within which good industrial relations prosper.

The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2012, which commenced on 1 August 2012, provides for a radical overhaul of the statutory wage setting mechanisms and reinstates a robust system of protection for low paid and vulnerable workers in the aftermath of the 2011 High Court ruling in the John Grace Fried Chicken case. The 2012 Act provided for reviews of each Joint Labour Committee (JLC) to be carried out by the Labour Court. On 1 October, 2013, I published the Labour Court Report. I have accepted the recommendations contained in the Report and the Ministerial Orders to effect the recommendations are currently being drafted and I hope to be in a position to sign them shortly.

In May 2013, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the framework for Registered Employment Agreements. This is clearly an important issue for many employers and their employees, particularly in relation to rates of pay and tendering for contracts and I intend to bring forward legislation to address the ruling as soon as possible. The Programme for Government contains a commitment to reform the current law on employees' rights to engage in collective bargaining, so as to ensure compliance by the State with recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Discussions with stakeholders on the issue are on-going and I hope to be in a position to put proposals to Cabinet shortly.

This Government decision in 2011 to reverse the €1 per hour reduction in the National Minimum Wage introduced by the previous Government represents a significant commitment to protect the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers. The Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012, provides that equal treatment in terms of basic working and employment conditions must be applied to temporary agency workers in the same way as if they were directly recruited by the hirer to the same or similar job.

Migrant workers are a vulnerable class of people and careful consideration is given to the potential for abuse and many of the criteria in evaluating employment permits applications focus on the bona-fides of the employer and the protection of the employee. This feature of the employment permits regime will be preserved in the draft Employment Permits Bill which I envisage submitting to Government for approval at the earliest opportunity. The Bill as drafted will also provide, subject to Government approval, for amending legislation in order to provide a defence for the employee, following the result of the High Court Judgement of 31st August 2012 concerning Mr. Younis.

The introduction of these measures demonstrates this Government's commitment to deliver modern, user friendly and world class workplace relations services and to ensure optimum protection for the employment rights of workers.

Trade Agreements

Questions (18)

Mick Wallace

Question:

18. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on whether the transatlantic trade and investment partnership might affect Ireland's sovereignty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50562/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a broad ranging economic agreement being negotiated between the EU and the US. This agreement with the U.S. is very significant not only for the EU but also for Ireland given the scale of U.S. investment here and the deep historic ties we have with America. In 2012, U.S. firms had investments worth over $200 billion in our country and last year we exported over €26 billion in goods and services to U.S. buyers. These facts underline the importance of this Partnership to Ireland, and the tens of thousands that are employed around the country by U.S. firms and indigenous ones that sell into the U.S. market.

With a focus on an export led recovery to stimulate growth and new jobs, this and similar agreements are really important to Ireland because they give our exporters greater access to new markets. With the weight of the EU behind these and other trade agreements we can achieve far greater benefits for our exporters than would be possible otherwise. This is the largest and most comprehensive economic agreement ever contemplated by the EU with another country. I am pleased that the mandate for the first Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was adopted by the EU Council during the Irish Presidency.

Competence for undertaking trade and investment negotiations flows from the many referenda, including most recently that on the Lisbon Treaty. Accordingly, competence for negotiating the TTIP rests with the EU Commission under the EU's common commercial policy. These negotiations take place on the basis of specific mandates from the EU Council of Ministers to the EU Commission.

Employment Data

Questions (19)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

19. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the date by which he expects the rate of employment to return to the pre-crisis levels based on current rates of change. [50485/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

My Department does not undertake employment forecasts. However, the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs has set the objective of supporting the creation of 100,000 extra jobs in the economy over the period 2012 to 2016 with an overall target of 2 million people in sustainable employment by 2020, through a series of annual measures aimed at improving Ireland’s competitiveness and making it easier for enterprises to do business. Data from the Central Statistics Office show that employment increased by 58,000 in the year to Quarter 3 2013. Employment in the private sector increased by 61,900 when account is taken of a reduction of 3,900 in public sector numbers. This was the fourth consecutive Quarter where an increase in employment was recorded.

We have now moved from a situation where the private sector was losing over 7,000 jobs per month before this Government came to office, to the present situation where it is creating close to 1,200 jobs per month. I am currently preparing the 2014 Action Plan on behalf of the Government and we will continue, through that process, to build on the success of the actions we have taken over the last two years.