Dáil Éireann - Volume 610 - 15 November, 2005

Written Answers. - EU Legislation.

  364. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of proposals that his Department is opposing at European Council at any stage; the names of such proposals; the reason his Department is taking this position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33828/05]

  365. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the exemptions from EU directives or regulations that Ireland has achieved in his Department’s competency area; the reason his Department requested each exemption; if it is intended to give up any of these exemptions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33843/05]

  366. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the exemptions from EU directives or regulations that his Department is seeking; the reason his Department is requesting each exemption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33858/05]

  Mr. Brennan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 364 to 366, inclusive, together.

[298] While in general EU directives may allow all member states to avail of exemptions and derogations, my Department has not sought specific exemptions from any EU directives or regulations. All EU directives for which my Department has responsibility have been transposed into Irish law. The Commission has recently issued a proposal for a directive, COM (2005) 507, on improving the portability of supplementary pension rights in order to facilitate the exercise of the right of workers to freedom of movement within the community. This proposal will be progressed by the employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs council. Ireland is already largely compliant with many of the requirements of this directive although there may be impacts in relation to public sector unfunded schemes. Discussion on this directive starts on 16 November and my Department will be negotiating the best possible outcome for those schemes.

The co-ordination of social security schemes within the EU is governed by Regulation (EEC) 1408/71 and its implementing regulation, Regulation (EEC) 574/72. The purpose of the regulations is to ensure that people moving within the community are afforded protection in matters of social security and to provide solutions to various problems faced by people when they move to another member state to live or work.

Over the years, Regulation (EEC) No. 1408/71 has been subject to a considerable number of modifications in order to take account of developments in national legislation and the case law of the European Court of Justice, resulting in a set of rules that were complex, lengthy and difficult to administer. For these reasons in 1998 the Commission presented a proposal to modify and simplify the terms of Regulation (EEC) No. 1408/71. The new Regulation, EC No. 883/2004, while adopted in April 2004, will not be implemented until a similar review of the implementing regulations has been completed. Satisfactory solutions have always been found during negotiations for any aspects of the Commission’s proposals to amend the Regulations that were problematic for Ireland.

Finally, I advise the Deputy that detailed information on all EU proposals is provided to the Houses of the Oireachtas in accordance with the European Union (Scrutiny) Act, 2002. However, if the Deputy has concerns in relation to a specific proposal I will be glad to provide more detailed information.