Dáil Éireann - Volume 548 - 19 February, 2002

Written Answers. - Early Retirement Scheme.

  136. Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the changes in the EU early retirement scheme for farmers in respect of those in receipt of State pensions. [5373/02]

  Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): It is a requirement of the EU Council regulations governing both schemes of early retirement that the early retirement pension may only be granted as a supplement to any national retirement pension that the participant, or their spouse or partner in a joint management arrangement, may receive. This means that the amount of any national retirement pension payable must be deducted from the early retirement pension.

  Within that context I was pleased to secure the agreement of the European Commission recently that widow's and widower's pensions (contributory and non-contributory), payable to participants who are under 66 years of age, should not be deducted from pensions paid under the new early retirement scheme. This was already the position under the previous scheme. The effect of this change is retrospective to the commencement of the scheme in November 2000 and arrangements are being made to refund deductions to participants who had already joined.