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12.6.

2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/225

(2003/C 137 E/254) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3544/02


by Pedro Aparicio Sánchez (PSE)
and Alejandro Cercas (PSE) to the Commission

(11 December 2002)

Subject: Discrimination against Spanish pensioners who were previously employed in Gibraltar

As the Commission is already aware, the British authorities seriously discriminate against pensioners of
Spanish nationality who were previously employed in Gibraltar. Since 1990, around 10 000 Spanish
citizens have been denied the statutory pension increases received by former colleagues still living in
Gibraltar.

In September 2001, in reply to Written Question E-2033/01 (1), the Commission stated that it was
examining the situation with regard to Community law and had asked the British authorities to provide
information. The answer concluded with the words: ‘The Commission will inform the Honourable Member
of any further action taken on the matter.’

As more than a year has passed with no sign of the information promised, the Commission is again
requested to state its position regarding this matter and the action it has taken to resolve the situation.

(1) OJ C 40 E, 14.2.2002, p. 151.

(2003/C 137 E/255) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3640/02


by Juan Ojeda Sanz (PPE-DE), Manuel Pérez Álvarez (PPE-DE)
and Roy Perry (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(17 December 2002)

Subject: Indexing of pensions in Gibraltar

On 3 July 2001 a question (P-1962/01 (1)) was put to the Commission concerning the pensions of
Spaniards who used to work in Gibraltar. According to the Asociación Linense de Pensionistas
Ex-trabajadores en Gibraltar (ALPEG) [an association representing pensioners who formerly worked in
Gibraltar], the value of those pensions has not been increased since 1990, a state of affairs which, under
Community law, constitutes discrimination on the grounds of place of residence. On 4 September 2001
Mrs Diamantopoulou replied on behalf of the Commission that the latter was considering the issue from
the point of view of Community law.

Have the UK authorities sent the Commission any further detailed information (as the Commission
requested) concerning the system for the indexing of pensions in Gibraltar?

What action is the Commission intending to take (or has it already taken)?

(1) OJ C 40 E, 14.2.2002, p. 150.

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-3544/02 and E-3640/02
given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(21 January 2003)

The questions raised concern the problem of retirement pensions payable by the Government of Gibraltar
not being increased or index-linked. The Honourable Members will recall that this matter was already the
subject of written questions, in response to which the Commission stated that it would obtain additional
information from the British authorities in this connection.
C 137 E/226 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.2003

Before a precise answer can be given to the questions concerned, it is necessary to focus on the type of
case involved. It should be remembered that the Gibraltar Social Insurance Fund (GSIF), the body created
by the Government of Gibraltar with responsibility for paying old-age pensions to workers in the British
colony, went bankrupt in 1993, and the British Government has since then been ensuring the payment of
pensions, albeit with the sums involved being frozen. This freeze applies to all retired workers regardless of
nationality, and is in accordance with Community law.

It should be remembered that in Regulations (EEC) 1408/71 (1) and 574/72 (2), Community law merely
provides for coordination of the Member States’ different social security schemes in order to offer social
protection to persons moving within the EU. Accordingly, the Member States alone are responsible for
determining the conditions under which persons qualify and are eligible for pensions granted in
accordance with Community law and above all in keeping with the principle of non-discrimination.

The questions raised by the Honourable Members are also concerned with the existence of two types of
benefits granted by the Government of Gibraltar: the Elderly Persons Allowance (EPA) and the Household
Cost Allowance (HCA). The questions are more specifically concerned with the legal nature of these two
benefits. In the present instance, what has to be determined is whether the existence and payment of two
non-contributory benefits is a roundabout way of index-linking retirement pensions which contravenes
Community law by making residence a condition of eligibility.

Based on the information obtained from the British authorities, it is apparent that both benefits fall within
the scope of social welfare provision and are thus outside the scope of social insurance and thus also
Community provisions.

The EPA is run by a private charitable organisation, Community Care Limited, which distributes funds
from the Government of Gibraltar subject to the following conditions: those who benefit are persons aged
65 or over who are resident in Gibraltar, have lived there for at least ten of the last 20 years, and do not
receive a contributory retirement pension or any other form of social assistance in excess of the EPA.
According to the British authorities, this benefit is becoming less and less common and currently is only
paid to around a hundred beneficiaries.

As regards the HCA, this is designed to help certain old people meet their household expenses, and
eligibility is also residence-based and income-dependent. This benefit is also administered by Community
Care Limited.

In view of the above, it can be seen that the legal nature and conditions of eligibility for the two types of
benefit mean that they constitute social welfare provision. There is no evidence of any discrimination
based on nationality in this connection. Furthermore, social assistance falls outside the scope of
Community provisions, as is clearly indicated in Article I.4 of Regulation (EEC) 1408/71.

As far as contributory retirement pensions are concerned, the Commission has not found any evidence of
discrimination on the grounds of a worker’s nationality. Indeed, the freeze on benefits applies to both
British and Spanish nationals who previously worked in Gibraltar.

(1) Council Regulation (EC) 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 (OJ L 149,
5.7.1971).
(2) Council Regulation (EEC) No 574/72 of 21 March 1972 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation
(EEC) No 1408/71 on the application of social security schemes to employed persons, to self-employed persons and
to members of their families moving within the Community (OJ L 74, 27.3.1972).

(2003/C 137 E/256) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3562/02


by Chris Davies (ELDR) to the Commission
(12 December 2002)

Subject: Food Supplements Directive

In view of concerns by some that the stimulus behind recent directives has come from large
pharmaceutical companies intent on increasing their market share, will the Commission explain the extent
of involvement of drugs companies in the drafting of the directive on Food Supplements (2002/46/EC (1))
and name the companies involved?

(1) OJ L 183, 12.7.2002, p. 51.