EU confirm to Sinn Féin that Covid payment can be paid to cross border workers – Chris MacManus MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has revealed details showing that EU regulations do not prevent a Member State from granting a benefit if entitlement for such benefit arises from its legislation. He said Fine Gael could no longer hide behind the EU as an excuse of not being able to make the Pandemic Unemployment Payment available to all workers regardless of their residence on the island.
“We have received confirmation from the EU Commission that the decision to block 6-county residents working on the southern side of the border from accessing the Covid payment was made solely by the Fine Gael caretaker government and not as a result of any EU restriction.”
The Sligo based MEP was speaking following the Commission’s reply to a recent written question.
“This is a deeply disappointing revelation. It’s insulting to treat thousands of people who contribute so much to our economy and society with this level of contempt in a pandemic. This is partitionist behaviour from a party that tries to call themselves the ‘United Ireland’ Party.” said MacManus, “In December 2017 Leo Varadkar told residents in the north; ‘You will never again be left behind by an Irish Government.’. It didn’t take him and his party long to renege on that promise”
“Fine Gael were hiding behind EU regulation when in reality they just lacked the political will. Residents from the six counties who work in the 26 counties should not be financially disadvantaged and should have been taking home the equivalent of €350 between payments in both jurisdiction. Is it wrong to demand equity for all Irish citizens?”
MacManus concluded: “This decision made single-handedly by the Fine Gael caretaker government is damaging lives as we speak. People who have been forced out of employment due to the pandemic are suffering when that government hid behind EU rules that don’t exist.”
“I am calling on the new government to reverse the decision and back pay all workers in the State regardless of where they live on the island as a matter of urgency. For northern based workers this can be done by topping up payments already received.” ENDS
Full details of written question and answer below
Question for written answer E-002256/2020
to the Commission
Subject: Payments for cross-border workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
With regard to EU regulations on frontier workers accessing unemployment benefits and similar emergency payments linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, can the Commission confirm that while EU law stipulates the responsibilities of Member States, it does not preclude a Member State from choosing to provide payments of this nature to frontier workers resident in a different State or in
agreement with another Member State where applicable?
ENE-002256/2020Answer given by Mr Schmit on behalf of the European
The Regulations on the coordination of social security systems 1 do not provide for a harmonised social security system in the EU, but for the coordination of national social security schemes 2 . Therefore, it is up to each Member State to determine the details of its own social security system, including which benefits are provided, the conditions for eligibility, how these benefits are calculated and what contributions should be paid.
As regards unemployment benefits for frontier workers, these Regulations lay down the rules for determining which Member State is competent to pay the benefits when the frontier worker becomes partially or wholly unemployed 3 . As a result, the frontier worker will be entitled to all the benefits related to unemployment provided by the competent Member State
(whether this is the Member State of residence or the Member State of previous employment), including any emergency payments linked to the COVID-19 pandemic if these fall within the scope of the Regulations and address the risk of unemployment. The Regulations do not place a responsibility on the non-competent Member State to provide any benefits related to the
same risk; however, the Regulations do not to prevent a Member State from granting a benefit if entitlement for such benefit arises from its legislation 4 .
Finally, as regards emergency payments not falling within the scope of the Regulations on the coordination of social security systems, as per Article 7(2) of Regulation (EU) No 492/2011 5 , frontier workers should have access to the same social and tax advantages granted by the Member State where they work as those granted to national workers.