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The European Commission  has taken steps  against a number  of Member  States
concerning  current  infringements   in  the  social  field.   The  countries
concerned are Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Greece.

.    Belgium: construction countries  have to pay their  social contributions
     twice

     At  the request  of several French,  Dutch and German  small and medium-
     sized firms,  infringement proceedings against  Belgium will be  brought
     before the Court of  Justice[1] . The contentious point  is that Belgium
     obliges firms in  the construction industry to make advance  payments in
     respect of their social security contributions in order to obtain:

     -    social identity cards for their workers,
     -    authorisation to commence work on a site.

     This is laid down[2]   without taking account of Community provisions on
     the posting of workers[3] .

     This means that under Belgian legislation companies already  required to
     pay  social security  contributions  in  their  Member State  of  origin
     (which  they can  prove by  means of  certificate  E 101 issued  by that
     State) must pay social contributions a second time.

.    Belgium: excessive  cost of residence and  work permits in the  Brussels
     region

     A reasoned  opinion will also be  transmitted to Belgium concerning  the
     cost of residence and work permits issued to  Turkish workers in certain
     municipalities in the Brussels region.

.    Netherlands:  Unemployed  Belgian workers  excluded  from  supplementary
     pension insurance

     -    A  reasoned  opinion   will  be  transmitted  to   the  Netherlands
          following examination of a complaint from  Belgium frontier workers
          engaged in  economic activity in  the Netherlands. If such  workers
          become unemployed  they are  not covered  by the  Fonds Voorheffing
          Pensioen,  which  finances  supplementary pension  insurance  while
          workers are not in paid employment.

.    Netherlands:  fees for  permanent residence  documents  are higher  than
     those charged for identity cards for nationals

     -    A  second  reasoned  opinion is  a  consequence  of  a  Netherlands
          regulation  increasing  the   fees  charged  for  the   issuing  of
          permanent residence documents  for Community and European  Economic
          Area  nationals  to  a  higher  level  than  the  fee  charged  for
          processing applications  for identity  cards submitted  by national
          residents.  This   is  seen  as  a   violation  of  Article  9   of
          Directive 68/360/EEC.

.    Belgium, Spain,  Ireland, Portugal  and Greece:  failure to  communicate
     national measures implementing health and safety at work legislation

     As  regards current  procedures resulting  from  failure to  communicate
     national measures  implementing directives,  the Commission has  decided
     to take  action before the Court  of Justice against Belgium,  Spain and
     Ireland,  which have  not communicated  measures  relating to  Directive
     92/104/EEC on  the  minimum requirements  for improving  the safety  and
     health  protection  of  workers  in  surface  and  underground  mineral-
     extracting industries.

     Court  action  will also  be  taken  against these  three  countries  in
     connection with the following health and safety at work directives:

     -    92/57/EEC  (minimum health  and  safety  requirements for  work  at
          temporary or mobile work sites) - Belgium.

     -    92/58/EEC  (minimum requirements for safety and health signs at the
          workplace) - Spain.

     -    92/91/EEC  (minimum  requirements  for  improving  the  safety  and
          health protection of  workers in the  mineral-extracting industries
          through drilling) - Belgium and Ireland.

     Finally,  three  reasoned  opinions  will  be  transmitted  to  Portugal
     (Directive 90/679/EEC on  the protection of  workers from risks  related
     to exposure to  biological agents at work,  Directive 93/88/EEC amending
     Directive 90/679,  and Directive 93/103/EEC[4]   concerning the  minimum
     safety and health  requirements for work on board fishing  vessels), and
     one to  Greece (Directive 91/382/EEC on  the protection of workers  from
     the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work).

[1]  Article 169 of the Treaties: "If the Commission  considers that a Member
     State has  failed to  fulfil an obligation  under this Treaty,  it shall
     deliver  a  reasoned  opinion  on the  matter  after  giving  the  State
     concerned  the opportunity  to submit  its  observations.  If the  State
     concerned  does not comply with the opinion  within the period laid down
     by the Commission, the latter may  bring the matter before the  Court of
     Justice".

[2]  See  Belgian  Law  of  23  November  1994   and  Ministerial  Decree  of
     22 December 1994.
[3]  In  particular  Article 14  of  Regulation  (EEC) No  1408/71  (see  the
     consolidated version published in OJ No C 325 of 10 December 1992).
[4]  Concerning the minimum safety and health requirements  for work on board
     fishing vessels (OJ No L 307. 13.12.93, p. 1).

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