Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Belgium Sued Over Guest-Worker Permit Denials

(CN) - In its monthly flurry of lawsuits against EU member states for various infringements of law and policy, the European Commission said Thursday it was suing Belgium for refusing to admit workers who pay social security to other member states.

When workers are posted temporarily to another member state, they are issued "portable documents" by their home state certifying that all wage deductions for social security must go to the home state.

The portable-document law has been upheld repeatedly by the European Court of Justice, and all member states are required to accept the permits as long as they haven't been invalidated by the issuing state.

But the commission says that Belgian law allows local enforcement officials to unilaterally refuse to recognize the documents - in effect barring individuals from other member states from being able to work in Belgium if they don't agree to pay into its social security system - and filed a lawsuit in the EU high court to force Belgium to comply.

The commission also filed lawsuits against other member states on Thursday in the Court of Justice:

Hungary, for missing the deadline to implement EU energy efficiency rules;

Germany, over its approval of a coal power plant in near Hamburg without assessing the risks to fish on the Elbe River;

Two actions against the United Kingdom, for its ongoing struggle to handle urban wastewater and a separate action over excessive coal power plant emissions;

A nuisance-abatement action against Slovenia over an illegal landfill containing highly flammable tires;

Two inheritance-tax actions against Greece for preferential treatment on bequests made to Greek charities, and a primary-residence exemption for which only Greek nationals qualify.

Despite issuing what it calls "infringement packages" against member states monthly - March's involved 98 cases - the commission estimates that 95 percent of its complaints against EU nations are resolved without going to court.

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