Ryanair wins battle over social charges

Ryanair jet in three-quarter view from the rear against blue sky
Ryanair has won its long battle with France over social charges that it pays in Ireland

Budget airline demands France repay €15million – and demands it pays interest

Budget airline Ryanair has won its 10-year battle with French authorities as the European Court of Justice has upheld its claim over employing pilots and cabin crews on Irish contracts.

It is now demanding France repay the €15million, plus interest, that it paid in what it calls “double taxes” after having paid social charges on the contracts in Ireland.

The ECJ ruled that Ryanair was complying with EU rules when it issued A1 certificates to the pilots and cabin crews as international workers and that these confirmed the worker’s social insurance status, so this should have been accepted by France.

Ryanair said France had “completely ignored these EU rules and Irish A1 certificates” and added: “French Social Insurance Authorities have acted unlawfully over the past 10 years by double charging Ryanair, and its people, who were based temporarily in Marseille, but who had already fully paid their social insurance in Ireland in accordance with EU regulations.”

The low-cost airline says the ruling also voids France’s bid this year to pursue it for social insurance payments for its pilots and cabin crews operating on temporary summer schedules from Marseille between 2011 and 2014. It has asked the Marseille investigating magistrate to abandon the investigation.

Ryanair’s Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson said: “We welcome this ruling which upholds the existing EU rules on social insurance payments for international transport workers, and exposes the unlawful attempt by the French authorities, to threaten and blackmail Ryanair for the double payment of social insurance in the case of pilots and cabin crew who have already paid their social insurance contributions in Ireland, in full compliance with EU rules.

“Ryanair will now be pursuing a full refund of €15m (plus interest) from the French authorities who have repeatedly and unlawfully pursued Ryanair, its pilots and cabin crew in Marseille, by ignoring EU regulations, and the validly issued Irish A1 certificates.

“We will also be pursuing the French Authorities for interest on these payments which were demanded illegally by the French authorities who were aware of, but ignored, both EU rules and the Irish A1 certificates despite being warned by the European Commission that they cannot do so.” 

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