Romania contemplates referring the issue of child allowances in Austria to the ECJ. EC prompts in: Adjustment is not compliant with the EU law. Austria rejects criticism

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Romania considers notifying the European Court of Justice in the case of decreasing allowances for the Romanian children in Austria, Romanian FM Teodor Meleșcanu told Digi 24 on Sunday.

It’s discriminating. Why? For the Romanians who work in Austria pay taxes and fees like any other workers in this country, regardless of their nationality. So, they are contributing to the state budget. From this perspective we are now assessing the possibility, if there are ways to minimize this discrimination, to notify the European Court of Justice on this issue and we will probably not be the only ones!,” Melescanu said.

Calculations show that for the children in Romania whose parents are working in Austria there will be a 50 pc decrease of these allowances. From our perspective there is a clear discrimination, for we are all European citizens and, according to the EU Treaty, no discrimination is accepted, including in the welfare,” the minister pointed out.

Child allowances for the children of the European citizens working in Austria have been cut to the level practiced in the country of origin as of January 1.

In retort, Juliane Bogner-Strauss,the Austrian minister of Family, has overruled Romania’s criticism on indexing the allowances of immigrants’ children, stating that Bucharest should have “a neutral” stance, as holder of the Presidency of EU Council.

The minister argued that a country that has taken over the Presidency of EU Council “should adopt the stance of an honest coordinator and to act as neutral as possible”,  DiePresse.com reports.

Bogner-Strauss further says that the indexation of the allowances “brings much more fairness”, as this is not about salary or social security here.

EC reacts: Adjustment of allowances not compliant with the EU law

The European Commission retorted that it would closely monitor the law in Austria on adjusting the allowances of the foreign children who are not living with their parents who work in this country, yet mentioning the EU laws do not basically allow the indexation of these benefits, a spokesperson of the Commission said on Monday.

The EC spokesperson also said it’s a non-discrimination matter, arguing that if the workers contributing to the national social insurance systems it is expected they get the same benefits regardless of their nationality and of the place where the children live.

Asked to comment the Romanian FM’s announcement that Romania might resort to the ECJ and to say if Brussels is banding together with Bucharest in this case, the EC official made no comments.

FM: It’s in the best interest of the Netherlands that Romania joins Schengen. Their exports are like the cut flowers

On the other hand, the Romanian minister of Foreign Affairs tackled the topic of the Schengen accession and the Netherlands’s opposition. Melescanu said that he had explained to his Dutch counterpart that Romania’s joining Schengen is in the Netherlands’ interest, arguing it’s like the case of the Dutch exports, as the cut flowers „can wilt very quickly of something happens at the border”.

„Romania has no problems with the free movement of people, capital or goods. We have some problems at the border, as in Romania a truck stays 2 -3 days in order to cross the Schengen border with Hungary. I said it’s in the Netherlands best interest that Romania becomes a Schengen state, considering it is one of the most important commercial partners that we have. Their exports in Romania, such as the cut flowers can wilt very quickly if something happens at the border and the system stops working,” Melescanu told Digi24.

The Romanian minister added that his Dutch counterpart, Stef Blok had told him that Romania is banned from joining Schengen for there is a major restraint in the Netherlands against EU enlargement or against receiving other countries to the Schengen area.

They also have populist, xenophobic, euro-skeptical parties, like in other Western countries, which became to weigh a lot in the society”, Melescanu argued.

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