SOCIAL SECURITY : BELGIUM AND SPAIN TAKEN TO COURT FOR DISCRIMINATION.
The European Commission announced, on 16 February, its decision to take Belgium and Spain to the EU Court of Justice for discrimination against pensioners.
In Belgium, several non-Belgian European citizens who worked in the Belgian Congo or Ruanda-Urundi and contributed to the Belgian social security system were not granted the same social rights as their Belgian colleagues. The Commission considers this a difference of treatment that is incompatible with the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of nationality written into the treaty (Articles 18 and 45 TFEU) and with the regulation on the coordination of social security systems (883/2004).
In Spain, European pensioners temporarily residing in the country do not have free access to medicines, unlike Spanish pensioners. This treatment is in breach of EU legislation, which provides that pensioners who reside temporarily in another member state can make use of their European health insurance card (EHIC) to receive health care under the same conditions as pensioners insured under the sickness insurance scheme of the host member state.
The EU executive has also sent reasoned opinions (final warning before referral to the Court of Justice) to Italy and the United Kingdom. It faults the first with discriminating against workers who have acquired experience and professional qualifications in another member state, and the second with exempting without justification certain maintenance and repair activities from application of the EU directive on the protection of workers from asbestos.