Summary of Vassen Göbells – C-61/65

by José Ricardo Sousa, student of the Master's degree in EU Law of UMinho

Keywords: Pension, Sickness, Enforceable provisions, Survivors

Court: CJEU| DateDecember 10th 1965 | Case: C-61/65 | Applicants: Mrs Vassen vs Management of the Beambtendfonds voor het Mijnbedrif, Heerlen

Summary: Mrs Vassen was a widow of a mining employer. She was receiving a pension from a pension fund of the social secutrity (BFM), who placed her as a member of a sickness fund. On 31st August 1963 she went to live in Germany. She asked to remove her name from the list, and so the BFM replied saying that her name wasn’t on the list since she went to live in Germany. When Mrs Vassen asked to re-enter on the list, BFM rejected. The Court suspended the works and referred the following question to CJEU:

Is the scheme laid … to be regarded as legislation, as defined in Article 1 (b) of Regulation No 3 and mentioned in Article 4 thereof? Furthermore can the said scheme governing sickness expenses be classified as ‘sickness insurance for mine workers (benefits in cash and in kind in the event of sickness and maternity)’ listed at (i) under the heading ‘Netherlands’ in Annex B to Regulation No 3, to which Article 3 of the said Regulation refers? Thus does Regulation No 3 (and also Regulation No 4) apply to non-manual workers employed in the Netherlands mining industry to whomthe said scheme governing sickness expenses is applicable?

CJEU started saying that their competence is to pronounce about interpretation or validation of the Treaty, subsequent European acts and judging a concrete national case wasn’t under their jurisdiction.

However, CJEU proceed to answer the question explaining some terms of the regulation nº3, such as legislation, enforceable provisions, institution, authority, etc. For example, according to Regulation nº3, the term legislation to all national enforceable acts of social security, including those provisions ruled by private autonomous authorities. The main subject is to know if this case could be included in the general or special scheme. After all the explanations, the CJEU sent the decision of the case for the respective national court.

(2) If this question is answered in the affirmative, can it then be accepted that in this case the applicant is entitled to the benefits referred to in Article 22 of Regulation No 3 and specified at the end of Article 22 (2)? Can this be accepted even though under Article 18 (b) (1) [of the RBFM], according to the wording which it had at the relevant time, the only right conferred is the right to be admitted, subject to certain stated conditions, to insurance providing reimbursement out of the sickness fund for the cost of medical treatment, the provision of medicines and nursing?’

About this matter, the CJEU argued that health insurances can’t be forbidden because the interested one moved their residence for other country. The application of the Regulation is not limited to workers that worked in one member state, but also for their relatives and the institutions are forbidden to cancel these benefits according to regulation nº3. Furthermore, this regulation also forbids any distinction between making such payments to the person itself or third persons.

The decision can be accessed here and the opinions of AG here.

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