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Parliamentary questions
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25 May 2018
Answer given by Ms Thyssen on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: P-001747/2018

The Commission is aware of the differences between the Member States’ legislations on family benefits. It is for the Member States to determine the conditions for eligibility of benefits, as long as general principles of EC law such as non-discrimination are respected. The Commission has not received complaints on the situations described by the Honourable Members.

Means-tested or income-related family benefits are not contrary to EU rules on social security coordination. According to these rules, a primarily competent Member State must pay family benefits when the conditions for eligibility in its legislation are met. If there is no entitlement to family benefits in that Member State, the secondarily competent Member State must pay the full amount under its legislation, if its own eligibility criteria are met. This system is based on the fairness principle that where mobile workers contribute to the tax or social security system in the same way as local workers, they should also receive the same benefits.

Like for social security benefits, it is up to the Member States to design their tax system, provided they respect their obligations under the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). This includes the decision whether and how to tax income from family benefits.

Currently 20 Member States have a residence clause for eligibility to family benefits. However, pursuant to the TFEU and the EU rules on social security coordination, such a residence requirement is not applicable in cross-border situations(1).

The proposed revision of the EU rules on social security coordination does not aim at changing the priority rules for overlapping entitlements in different Member States(2).

(1)This means that the Member State which is primarily competent for family benefits shall pay them according to its legislation even if one parent is working and residing in another Member State, when that parent is member of the household.
(2)Under the EU rules on social security coordination, any Member State of secondary competence will only pay family benefits when the eligibility conditions of its legislation are met and subject to the respect of the Treaty principles, such as the principle of non-discrimination.

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