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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/201

(2003/C 137 E/226) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3418/02

by Joaquim Miranda (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(2 December 2002)

Subject: Retirement pensions for migrant citizens

According to information received from Portuguese citizens living and working in other Member States,
the fact that such citizens have divided their professional activity between their country of origin,
i.e. Portugal, and another Member State places them at a disadvantage in terms of the calculation of their
retirement pension.

This situation mainly arises when the Member States in which pension contributions were paid lay down
minimum periods for awarding the maximum retirement pension. For example, someone who has worked
in Portugal for 19 years and has subsequently worked in Germany for a further 27 years (making a total of
47 years of pension contributions to the respective social security systems) would receive less with two
pensions than someone who was entitled to a single pension and had worked for only 35 years in the
latter country.

What solution does the Commission see to this problem, which represents an objective obstacle to the free
movement of European Union citizens? Bearing in mind the current revision of Directive 1408/71,
which deals specifically with the coordination of social security systems, what changes does it intend to
make to the Directive to bring about a solution to this situation?

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(14 January 2003)

The purpose of Council Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 of 14 June 1971 on the application of social
security schemes to employed persons, to self-employed persons and to members of their families moving
within the Community (1) is to coordinate national social security systems in order to avoid a situation
where migrant workers lose social security entitlements as a result of moving within the EU.

As the Court of Justice has ruled on a number of occasions, Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 is not designed
to harmonise social security systems, but to coordinate them. In its judgment of 28 April 1998
(Case C-120/95 (2)), the Court stated that ‘In the absence of harmonisation at Community level, it is
therefore for the legislation of each Member State to determine, first, the conditions concerning the right
or duty to be insured with a social security scheme (Case 110/79 Coonan v Insurance Officer [1980] ECR
1445, paragraph 12, and Case C-349/87 Paraschi v Landesversicherungsanstalt Württemberg [1991] ECR
I-4501, paragraph 15) and, second, the conditions for entitlement to benefits (Joined Cases C-4/95 and
C-5/95 Stöber and Piosa Pereira v Bundesanstalt für Arbeit [1997] ECR I-511, paragraph 36).’ It is thus up
to each Member State to determine its system of social security, including the rate for old-age pensions.

The aim of Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 is also clearly mentioned in Article 42 of the EC Treaty itself,
which states that it must ensure effective freedom of movement for workers by putting in place
coordination arrangements based in particular on the principle of aggregation, for the purpose of acquiring
and retaining the right to benefits, and for calculating the amount of benefits for all periods taken into
account under the laws of the different countries.

This principle has been applied to the field of old-age pensions in particular. The aim is thus not to
guarantee a pension corresponding to the highest amount to which a person would have been entitled if
they had spent their entire working life in a single Member State, but to safeguard the principle of
aggregation mentioned above. A Member State must take account of periods of insurance completed in the
other Member States irrespective of whether this is for the purpose of acquiring rights in cases where a
State’s legislation requires a minimum period of employment, or for calculating the amount of a pension.
The Regulation referred to also stipulates that each Member State must carry out a double calculation of
pensions; the first is solely on the basis of its applicable legislation (without taking account of periods of
insurance completed under a different legislation; this is the national pension) and the second entails a
theoretical pension amount being determined on the basis of all periods of insurance completed under the
various legislations to which a worker has been subject. Each Member State then calculates the amount of
benefit on the basis of the theoretical amount and the pro rata entitlements accruing from periods of
insurance completed under legislation which the institution applies (proportional pension). Finally, each
State must then pay out whichever pension is more favourable, i.e. the national pension or the
proportional pension.
C 137 E/202 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.2003

For all the reasons mentioned, the proposal to simplify the Regulation, which was presented by the
Commission in 1998 (3), does not contain any substantial amendments to the method for calculating
old-age pensions.

(1) OJ L 149, 5.7.1971.

(2) Decker [1998] ECR I-1831.
(3) Proposal for a Council Regulation (EC) on coordination of social security systems, presented by the Commission on
4 January 1998, COM(98) 779 final.

(2003/C 137 E/227) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3423/02

by Ioannis Marínos (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(2 December 2002)

Subject: Take-up of funds under third CSF in Greece

Mr Pachtas, the Greek Deputy Minister responsible for administering funds from the third Community
Support Framework (CSF), indicated that in Greece over 70 % of the scheme had already been mobilised.
However, information published by the Greek Finance Ministry indicates a take-up rate of only 10,67 % of
public funds earmarked for this purpose almost three years after official entry into force. Furthermore, if
private sector contributions are also taken into account the situation is much worse. Regarding
programmes for the outlying regions whose development is lagging furthest behind (Epiruc, the northern
Aegean, western Macedonia) the take-up rate is situated between 2 and 2,7 %.

What precise figures does the Commission have regarding total take-up for the third CSF in Greece?
In which regions of Greece is it highest and which projects are involved? Is there any danger, and if so
how great, of forfeiting unused Community funds? What representations have been made by the
Commission to the Greek authorities with a view to accelerating the take-up of funds under the third CSF?

Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission

(23 January 2003)

The figures on the absorption of funds under CSF III given by the statements of payments submitted by
Greece under Article 32 of Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 (1) show that, of a total of EUR 21 950 100 000
for the whole programming period, by October 2002 EUR 3 452 760 000, or 15,7 %, had been paid. After
deducting the 7 % advance, actual implementation was about 8,7 %. However, more recent figures from the
national authorities put actual implementation in December 2002 at about 10,9 %.

The Commission has no figures on the absorption rates for individual projects because payments are
calculated by measure rather than at a lower level. However, this information is available in the ‘Ergorama’
national monitoring system.

At present the regional operational programmes for the southern Aegean, the Ionian Islands and western
Greece are the ones which have the highest implementation rates.

As regards the risk of a loss of funds, the ‘n+2’ rule will apply for the first time in Greece at the end of
2003. At the meeting of the CSF Monitoring Committee in spring 2002, Greece identified certain
operational programmes which required careful monitoring, although loss of funding was not certain at
this stage. The situation will be reviewed in partnership with Greece early in 2003 and if necessary
appropriate steps will be taken to correct this problem.

The Commission has also begun a dialogue with the Member States on the simplification of procedures,
mainly to speed up the pace of using Community funding.

(1) Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds (OJ L 161,