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PR(06)38: Icelandic rules on residence requirements for student loans found to be discriminatory

19.7.2006

The EFTA Surveillance Authority today delivered a reasoned opinion to Iceland because residence requirements for the granting of student loans are found to indirectly discriminate against migrant workers and their dependant family members.

The Icelandic legislation on student loans requires that applicants for loans are residing in Iceland. In addition, the applicant must have been permanently residing in Iceland during two years leading up to the time of application for a loan or for three years out of the last ten years.

The EEA Agreement provides for equal treatment between migrant workers and national workers as regards granting of social advantages. Study finance is considered a social advantage.

Even if the residence requirements also apply to Icelandic nationals, they are indirectly discriminatory because, in practice, they are more easily met by Icelandic nationals than by nationals of other EEA States. In view of the Authority, Iceland has not provided sufficient grounds to justify the discriminatory residence requirements.

The purpose of a reasoned opinion is to give Iceland a last chance to take corrective measures before the Authority decides whether to bring the matter before the EFTA Court. Iceland has been given three months to take the measures necessary to comply with the reasoned opinion.

For further information, please contact
Mr. Hallgrímur Ásgeirsson, Director of the Internal Market Affairs Directorate,
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 60.

 




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