Pensions and the EU

Dear Sir,
I came to Majorca in 2002 with 32 years of national insurance contributions for my UK state pension. I was informed by the pension office in the UK that I only needed 30 years and I did not need to make further contributions. My wife was Spanish and she was informed she could add both UK contributions and her Spanish contributions together, so at 60 she claimed a rather small UK pension and at 65 she claimed her Spanish pension. A few years ago I found out that the UK government had moved the goal posts and that I now needed 35 years contributions towards my UK pension , so I started paying autonomous (self employed NI contributions) here in Majorca.

I will be 65 next year and have been paying my autonomous here for four years believing this would be more than enough to make up the shortfall in my UK pension. If I stay in Majorca and retire here I will lose my Spanish contributions because I need a minimum of 15 years here to receive a pension in Spain. However, if I return to the UK I can take my four or five years of Spanish contributions and add it to my UK pension. It is now very unclear if the UK leaves the EU what will happen to my Spanish contributions. Any advice would be very welcome.
Adrian Bertorelli

To be or not to be
(a member of EU that is)

Dear Sir,
It is of great interest to follow the arguments from the Stay and the Leave sides. My outlook is from a country (Norway) that is not an EU-member and twice voted not to seek membership: it was rather narrow, some 55% against 45%.

Norway is rather small with five million people and a reasonably strong economy. So what is the problem then, all happiness? Oh no, far from it! No country, big or small is an island. International cooperation and commerce require common rules, and the EU  is essential. That has to be accepted. Norway pays a LOT of money to gain access to EU’s inner market, more or less forced to apply to almost all of its rules and regulations, but as a non-EU member it has no seat at the negotiation table where the decisions are being taken.
Leif Krogstad

Expats voting rights

Dear Sir,
Mike Lillico’s letter (Sunday/Monday) to you implies that expats will not be permitted to vote depending on the length of years they have acquired living abroad. I have no wish to argue with his view (he is a joy to see in the Bulletin!), but I think this only applies to parliamentary elections, and as this referendum seriously affects expats, is unique, a once in a lifetime event, surely we residents who have retained their British citizenship, should have the right to a vote.

Perhaps, Mr Moore, you may be able to clarify and elucidate?
Yours sincerely
Phil Green
El Toro


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sallie woodford / Hace over 3 years

In response to Mr Green's letter. I wrote to Cameron early last year making the case for the "15 Year Rule" to be lifted for the EU Referéndum. After much toing and froing, and my letter eventually being referrred to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I received a reply over four months later, which stated that "although the 15 year rule was being looked at, it was unlikley to be in time to be effective to enable voting in the EU Referéndum"


sallie woodford / Hace over 3 years

My husband is in a similar situation to Mr, Bertorelli. He had written confirmation from the UK Pensions Department for non UK Residents that he had his required over 30 years of contributions, When the requirenment for 35 from next month came in, he had confirmation from them that his contributions here (also less than 15) counted towards the shortfall, and he only needed to pay a small sum to complete the 35. (they have a copy of his Historia de Vida Laboral) I requested written confirmation that this would entitle him to the new USP when he reaches 65 next year, before writing the cheque. Luckily as it happens, as when this was not forthcoming we were eventually advised that under the new method of calculation his current 31 years had been reduced to 17, as a consequence of "contracted out" years no longer being counted as complete years, and his years of contributions here, plus the top up they had advised him to pay, would have left him still short of the 35 using this new method of calculation. It would have been a complete waste of money. It appears at the moment that the years paid in here just fall into a black hole with neither Spain nor the UK wanting to recognise them. I say "appears". The staff in the UK Pensions Department have given us several pieces of conflicting information, and have now told us that they themselves do not know how this new system is going to be applied (it comes in next month!), and we "should not rely" on any information/forecasts they have provided us with.