Friday, May 06, 2005

No 6 lashes out at Juarez and Bossano over Pensions 'scare'

‘No EU ultimatum’

Gibraltar Government last night condemned both the GSLP (Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party) Opposition and the Mayor of La Linea for their "manipulative and misleading use of the Spanish Pensions issue for political purposes at the expense of unnecessary anxiety - in the case of the GSLP - and false expectation - in the case of the Mayor of La Linea.”

An angry statement from No6 said that on his return from Brussels the Mayor of La Linea has said:

"The ultimatum extended to Britain by the European Commission in March expires in a fortnight. The deadline referred to the need to modify current legislation on Gibraltar's social assistance payments considered discriminatory against Spanish workers because of the residency required."

Sr Juarez could not have been told this by the EU Commission, because it is simply not true, said No 6.

"There is no ultimatum and no deadline to change anything," said the Government.

No 6 points out that on March 21 2005 the European Commission wrote to the British Government saying that "serious doubt" remained in its mind related to Community Care's nature as a "social advantage linked to the worker's conditions" and alleged discrimination in relation thereto.

The letter, argues No 6, simply invites the UK to submit its observations on that issue within 2 months, as required by EU procedure. The letter then goes on to say that after examining these observations, or if no observations have been submitted within 2 months, "the Commission may, if appropriate, issue a Reasoned Opinion on the matter".

No 6 stated that it is "a complete distortion of facts and procedures to suggest that the Commission has made the ultimatum described by Sr Juarez. There is not yet a legal challenge afoot by the Commission, although the procedures necessary before any possible litigation could be made have been invoked. Needless to say, any legal challenge to Community Care will be vehemently resisted by the appropriate parties."

"The matter of Spanish pensions is also under political discussion in the Trilateral Forum, where the Gibraltar Government has made its well known position clear. The Gibraltar Government considers that Community Care is totally legal. The Trustees of Community Care share that view and will continue to make payments to beneficiaries. The Government fully supports the Trustees in that position.

The Government said it also notes the references to Community Care in the GSLP's door to door leaflet entitled 'The Key'.

"That leaflet - as always - is generally riddled with lies, distortions and manipulations and the Government would not normally comment on its shameless content and spin. However, the Government is exceptionally doing so on this occasion, in relation to the issue of Community Care because the peace of mind of elderly people in Gibraltar has once again been undermined by the GSLP, quite unnecessarily, for their own selfish party political purposes.

Since receipt of that leaflet many elderly persons have expressed concern about whether their Community Care benefits will continue.

Community Care's position and the Government's position on this is clear and well known, namely, that the payments are legal and will continue and that will be defended all the way by the appropriate parties."

Commenting further the Government spokesman said:

"The constitutional duty of Opposition parties in a democracy to oppose and scrutinise Governments should be exercised responsibly. It should not extend to ambiguous or false statements which unnecessarily undermine the peace of mind of vulnerable, elderly people on the basis of pure scare-mongering."


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