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C 310/2 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10.


The expert group’s view is that banks are not legally entitled to charge their customer when there is an obligation
imposed on the banks to make the conversions. This concerns conversions of incoming payments during the
transitional period and conversion of accounts into the euro at the end of the transitional period.

As regards the conversion of national banknotes and coins into euro banknotes and coins during the final period,
there appears to be no legal basis for imposing a general duty on banks to exchange without charges. There are
however legal arguments entitling account holding customers to claim the exchange without charges of their
national banknotes and coins. The standard of good practice recommended by the expert group include the
conversion without charges for:
− incoming and outgoing payments during the transitional period;
− conversion of accounts from the national denominations into the euro denomination during and at the end of
the transitional period;
− the exchange for account holders of ‘household’ amounts of banknotes and coins from the national
denominations into the euro denomination during the final period.

In addition to the above, the Commission’s preliminary opinion is that there are arguments for providing free of
charges the conversion of national banknotes and coins into euro banknotes and coins during the final period also
to citizens without a bank account.

The Commission will take a decision on its position on the standard to be implemented and the most appropriate
initiatives after having heard the views of the participants in the round table of 26 February 1998.

(1) OJ C 134, 30.4.1998, p. 27.

(98/C 310/02) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3337/97

by David Hallam (PSE) to the Commission
(22 October 1997)

Subject: Payment of Statutory Maternity Pay (United Kingdom): 16-week loophole

Is the Commission aware that, under United Kingdom regulations, a woman who is less than sixteen weeks
pregnant when she moves from one job to another is not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay from either previous
or new employer; yet if she had been pregnant for 25 weeks when taking up a new post her old employer would
have been liable, and if she had fallen pregnant the day she took up a new post her new employers would be liable
to pay, and claim back from national social security?

Does the Commission consider that this situation is grossly unjust, particularly when women whose income is
the main source of revenue for a family, and who have not had a break in employment, find themselves in this

Does the Commission consider that if the employer is, by European law, not permitted to allow his judgment to
employ or not to employ to be clouded because a woman is pregnant (Dekker case), a women employee should
then be forced into the position of turning a job down purely because she will not be eligible for SMP at 90 per
cent for six weeks?

In the European Court’s decision in the Dekker case (EOR35), as Advocate-General famously put it: ‘Maternity
can never − excuse the truism − concern anyone but women: to take it into account in justifying a refusal of
engagement is therefore, by nature, discrimination directly based on sex’. Would the Commission agree that it is
equally discriminating for a woman to be forced to refuse engagement on account of maternity?

In the United Kingdom, the basic safety net provided for women not qualifying for SMP is £52.50 per week for
12 weeks. In the light of the ECJ ruling in the Gillespie case that the equal pay directive neither requires full pay
nor lays down criteria for determining the amount payable, provided that amount is not so low as to jeopardise
the purpose of maternity leave, would the Commission not agree that the UK safety net for women who fall into
the 16-week loophole is so low as to jeopardise the purpose of maternity leave, most particularly for women
whose income is the main source of revenue for a family?
9. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/3

Supplementary answer
given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission
(16 March 1998)

Further to its answer of 21 November 1997 (1), the Commission is now in a position to provide the following

As the Commission informed the Honourable Member, it has contacted the UK authorities in order to obtain
further information on the conditions of application of the rules governing statutory pay during maternity leave.

In their reply, the UK authorities point out that Article 11(4) of Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992
on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers
and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding (2) authorises the Member States to make the
maintenance of pay during maternity leave contingent upon the worker concerned fulfilling the conditions of
eligibility for such benefits under national legislation, although these conditions may not provide for periods of
previous employment in excess of 12 months immediately prior to the presumed date of confinement.

The fact that UK legislation makes entitlement to statutory maternity pay conditional on a continuous period of
employment of 26 weeks ending the week immediately preceding the fourteenth week before the presumed week
of confinement can therefore not be regarded as being contrary to Directive 92/85/EEC.

The Commission would, however, also draw the Honourable Member’s attention to the fact that workers who are
not entitled to statutory maternity pay may receive a maternity allowance or other benefits if they fulfil the
conditions of entitlement to these benefits under UK legislation.

(1) OJ C 134, 30.4.1998, p. 140.

(2) OJ L 348, 28.11.1992.

(98/C 310/03) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3623/97

by Pierluigi Castagnetti (PPE) to the Commission
(13 November 1997)

Subject: Residence permits in Germany

A number of non-German Community nationals resident in Germany have complained that residence permits for
that country are issued on the basis of applications sent in to the relevant local authority on printed forms dating
back to the 70s. In order to receive a residence permit, non-German Community nationals must inter alia declare
that they have an income in excess of DM 1 200.

Many nationals of other Member States working in Germany wish to continue to reside in the country following
their retirement.

What should be the attitude of local authorities when pensioners with a pension of less than DM 1 200 apply for a
residence permit?

Similarly, what attitude should they take to nationals of other Member States who, having been elected as local
councillors, do not meet all the requirements for an extension of their residence permits?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(3 February 1998)

The Commission is not aware of the form to be used by Union citizens living in Germany when applying to the
relevant local authorities for a residence permit.