Slovenian MEP Protests Austrian Child Benefit Cuts for Workers Whose Children Live Abroad

By , 12 Jan 2018, 12:51 PM News
Romana Tomc, MEP Romana Tomc, MEP Wikimedia

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The move would impact around 10,600 children in Slovenia. 

January 12, 2018

The STA reports from Brussels on January 12, 2018, that Slovenian MEP Romana Tomc (EPP/SDS), joined by her counterparts from several other countries, has addressed a question to the European Commission after the Austrian government decided to cut benefit payments for workers whose children live abroad. The measure is to affect 10,600 children in Slovenia.

The MEPs are asking the Commission to say whether it is discriminatory of an EU member state to adjust child benefits to the cost of living in the country of the children's residence.

The MEPs also want to know whether EU citizens employed in another member state who pay the same contributions as citizens of this member state are eligible for the same social benefits.

The European Commission is also being challenged to say whether Austria's measure is in compliance with EU law, in particular the 2004 regulation on the coordination of social security systems.

The European Commission has six weeks to respond, but it has already indicated that it will examine whether the Austrian child benefits law is in compliance with EU legislation.

The MEP question has been drawn up at Tomc's initiative in cooperation with MEPs from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. It has been signed by MEPs from nine countries and five political groups, including all Slovenian MEPs and Angelika Mlinar, a member of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Austria.

"I am afraid that through this populist move, Austria has divided children of EU citizens between those first-rate and those second-rate. If the intention is to prevent so-called social tourism, which I oppose myself, the method is completely inappropriate," Tomc said in a press release.

"Everyone employed in Austria, including Slovenians, contribute in equal measure to the Austrian welfare system, so they should also be treated equally when it comes to benefits," said the MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament's Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

The Austrian government has said that the cuts will affect 132,000 children of foreign workers in Austria, in particularly those living in Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Romania and Slovenia.

For the cuts to be in compliance with EU legislation, the EU regulation on the coordination of social security systems, which deals with child benefits, would have to be amended, Austrian MEPs have indicated.

Tomc announced that she would amend the report seeking to change the EU regulation in such a way as to protect Slovenian children. "I also believe members of the Employment Committee will muster the unity not to back such a proposal," she added.

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