Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Ceisteanna (79)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

136 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the legislative priority she has set for the Irish Presidency for the adoption by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament of the proposals to simplify and modernise EU regulations on social security of migrant workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7797/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Family)

The EU Regulation 1408/71 co-ordinates the social security systems of the member states. It ensures that migrant workers, or members of their families, are not penalised in terms of social security when they exercise their right to free movement.

The regulation was amended on many occasions to keep up with developments arising from European Court of Justice case law, various enlargements of the Union and legislative developments in member states. For these reasons the Commission submitted a proposal to reform and simplify the regulation to Council in December 1998 and its consideration commenced in 1999 during the German Presidency.

Last December, following detailed and complicated discussions, the Council of Ministers reached political agreement on the proposed regulation. In order to maintain the momentum generated I made it a priority for the Irish Presidency of the Council to secure agreement with the European Parliament, in accordance with the co-decision procedure, before its term expires in May.

On 26 January the process began with the presentation of a common position to the European Parliament. It was then transferred to the employment and social affairs committee where it was first considered on 16 February. The committee will discuss and vote on a report on the common position by 5 April and before the final vote of the plenary session of parliament on 22 April. Securing agreement with parliament on April 22 is a priority for the Presidency. Informal contacts are being maintained with various MEPs, especially those closely involved with the proposal on the employment and social affairs committee. I hope that a formal adoption of the new regulation can be secured during the Irish Presidency.