Norway is violating EEA rules by limiting sickness benefits to people staying abroad, ESA warns

Erna SolbergPhoto: Terje Pedersen / NTB

By limiting payouts of sickness benefits to recipients from Norway that travel to other EEA countries, Norway is violating the EEA rules, the EEA Authority (ESA) noted.

The Norwegian rules require that people must stay in Norway in order to receive certain benefits. Recipients of cash benefits in the event of illness may be granted permission to travel abroad on certain occasions, but this requires prior approval from the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration (NAV).

Approval is subject to several strict conditions, including a maximum limit for how long recipients can stay in other EEA countries.

Such rules are in conflict with EEA law, including rules on the coordination of social security schemes and rules on free movement, the ESA believes.

Lack of clarity

In its report, the ESA points out that even though the Norwegian authorities maintain that the residence requirements are no longer practiced, the legal text remains largely unchanged.

Therefore, the ESA concluded that Norway continues to restrict the right to free movement for persons covered by the relevant rules.

The core of the objections concerns the lack of clarity and predictability of the rules in Norway.

“All citizens have the right to a clear, precise, and predictable framework that makes it easy to understand and navigate the EEA rules,” the ESA writes.

Two-month deadline

The ESA’s Wednesday statement is the second step in a formal infringement procedure against Norway. The Norwegian authorities now have two months to explain their views and to change rules and practices.

The ESA can then choose to take the case to the EFTA Court.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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