Politicians from various parties to meet EU officials on floods

‘Ming’ Flanagan says decision to invite politicians from number of parties reflects fact flooding is ‘national emergency’

Politicians from across the political spectrum are to meet with officials from the European Commission today in Brussels to seek clarity on EU regulations on flooding.

The meeting, organised by Midlands North West MEP Luke "Ming" Flanagan, will be attended by Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Michael Fitzmaurice (Ind) and Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen; and Denis Naughten TD (Ind). Fine Gael MEP Mairéad McGuinness will represent the Government at the meeing.

Mr Flanagan said the meeting was to find out what could be done to alleviate flooding at EU level, and whether EU funds were available.

Emergency

He said the decision to invite politicians from a number of parties reflected the fact that the flooding was a “national emergency”.

“There is confusion, however, over just who is responsible, over what can and can’t be done, claims made – and denied – that various European directives prevent certain very necessary work from taking place,” he said.

The European Commission last week rejected suggestions that EU laws are to blame for the severe flooding in Ireland.

The intervention by the commission followed criticism from groups and representatives in the UK and Ireland that EU legislation such as the water framework directive had prevented local authorities from dredging rivers.

Legislation

Environmental experts have said while dredging is not explicitly banned by EU legislation, in effect states are prohibited from undertaking dredging if it disturbs certain habitats.

Ms McGuinness raised the issue of EU environmental directives at a meeting of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee on Monday.

She asked the Dutch presidency whether concerns about wildlife took precedence over public interest concerns in EU directives.