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Official Journal of the European Communities

C 235 E/1





(2001/C 235 E/001)


by Marit Paulsen (ELDR) to the Commission

(9 March 2000)

Subject: Free movement of workers

In Sweden, repayment of State study loans is governed by the Study Finance Act (1973: 349) and the Study Finance Decree (1973: 418).

People residing in Sweden are required to repay study loans at an annual rate of 4 % of their combined income from service, employment and capital. However, people residing abroad, including therefore in other EU Member States, are required to repay them at an annual rate of 1/20 of the debt.

Admittedly, these rules apply to all, irrespective of nationality, but in reality they make it unaffordable for those on low or middle incomes, or part-time workers, who have studied for a medium length of time (four to five years) to live and work in another Member State, as they are required to repay a considerably larger amount per annum than they would if they remained in Sweden (for those on high incomes, the situation may of course be reversed). Person A has a debt of about SEK 300 000 from a study loan (a normal amount for a person who has studied for four or five years) and an annual income of SEK 168 000 (SEK 14 000 per month). If this person lives and works in Sweden, he/she will have to repay SEK 6 720 per annum. However, if the same person happens to live and work in France, the annual repayment will be more than twice as much: SEK 15 000. Thus Sweden’s repayment rules favour those in high income groups, while those on low or middle incomes or who work part-time cannot afford to take advantage of the fundamental freedom to live and work in another Member State (cf. ECJ judgment in the case of Kraus, C-19/92).

Do these repayment rules violate the fundamental freedom to seek employment and to live and work in another Member State (Article 39 of the EC Treaty)?

Supplementary answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(25 April 2001)

The Commission apologises for the delay in replying to the Honourable Member’s question and asks her to refer to the answer to Question P-0599/01, which answers the questions asked in March 2000.