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EUlisses (formerly COWEBS): EU Links & Information on Social Security

Eulises - 7158
Maintaining social security rights across European-borders is a central concern of citizens who live and (or) work in a country other than their own. The European Year of Workers’ Mobility 2006 culminated with the closing conference on 11–12 December 2006 during which the new EUlisses Web portal offering valuable and targeted information on social security pensions was launched.
Updated: October 2007

What is EUlisses (formerly COWEBS)?
EUlisses (pronounced “Ulysses”) stands for EU Links & Information on Social Security. Being one of the earliest, most well-known historical characters, Ulysses personifies the traveller in Europe. EUlisses is a multilingual web portal structured to reflect life events, which gives easy access to EU and national information on the social security rights and obligations of citizens on the move in Europe and consolidates national and European information sources. Furthermore, it helps us to develop the best possible portal for all the social security sectors in due course.
EUlisses aims to help citizens find out about their social security rights and obligations at EU and national level, find the social security institutions in different European countries, and provide access to the national online social security services. EUlisses therefore enhances the accessibility of information which is essential to assist people to make the most of Europe.
Every year thousands of citizens contact the European Commission and national social security authorities. About 70% of e-mails to the European Commission are questions about social security.
EUlisses gives information only on pensions and not on the full range of social security sectors like unemployment benefits, etc because research shows that pensions are the area which generates the most questions from citizens. Old age pensions, in particular, are among the most important social security benefits. Launching the portal for pensions means that feedback can help us develop the best possible portal for all the social security sectors in due course.
How does it work?
The portal is in seven languages (English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Greek and Spanish). During 2007, it will be extended to all the other Community languages.
Today EUlisses starts off with the pension sector, shedding light on questions frequently asked by citizens. All content is tailored to match the real stages of life events. In other words, whether a person is working and merely interested in finding out more, or planning for retirement, or about to retire, or already retired – EUlisses has an answer.
The various questions on pensions (concerning pension rights and contributions, pension applications, pension calculations, pension payments and more) that may arise during these stages of a citizen's life are dealt with in this portal.
Other services of the EUlisses portal include:
  • ‘faq’ section which should assist citizens to obtain answers to the most frequently asked questions on pensions;
  • ‘find your institution’ which should enable tracking of the competent institution in any EEA Member State and Switzerland for more personal detailed information, for instance on the personal pension account;
  • institutions a-z’ allows sifting through the list of institutions to find the one to help;
  • ‘links’ provides ready access to other Web portals and national sites on social security issues and pensions;
  • ‘glossary’ provides the meaning of commonly used social security terms; and
  • 'online comments’ invites users of the portal to send their feedback.
Feedback from users is precious as it will help in the future development of the best possible portal for all the social security sectors including family benefits, health care, unemployment, accidents at work and occupational diseases etc. As the negotiations in Council are currently underway on the implementing regulation for the new modernised and simplified Regulation 883/2004 coordinating social security, it makes sense to extend the portal to all the other sectors of social security once this new Regulation begins to apply.
  • A feasibility study launched at the end of 2001 resulted in a preliminary report on the creation of a model multilingual web portal coordinating social security information for migrant workers.
  • A pilot  started, building on the preparatory work performed by France, Germany and Italy. It contained first level information for citizens and guided users to the appropriate sections in national and/or European Social Security websites.
  • A contract was signed in early 2003 for the development of a pilot pensions portal incorporating EU level and national level information limited to seven Member States.
  • The pilot portal of 7 countries France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom was extended to all the European Union countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in 2006.
  • EUlisses was launched to the public on 11 December 2006. The 2006 European Year of Workers’ Mobility cast a spotlight on job-to-job and geographical mobility and the obstacles that people face. A major objective of the 2006 European Year was to raise awareness of the rights and opportunities for workers' mobility - the portability of social security pension rights forms a cornerstone of this mobility. EUlisses demonstrates this with real-life examples.  
Who will benefit?
Citizens: They stand to gain the most benefit  as the portal gives them access not only to the EU level information in citizen friendly language but also enhances the on-line accessibility of national level information and provides links to the relevant national institutions. Multilingual content increases  the portal's accessibility to all European citizens.
Public Administrations:The system will lighten the national administrations' and EU institutions' tasks (finding the correct EU level and national information including the relevant national institutions), and therefore, contribute to the speed of responses to citizens and other administrations.  Being a one-entry point for social security in Europe, EUlisses plays the role of providing information and guiding users to the relevant national services and links.
The role of IDABC
The EUlisses portal was developed within the framework of the EU’s IDA and now IDABC programme (IDABC stands for Interoperable Delivery of European eGovernment Services to public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens) and complements other online services on Europa.
Key Data
Project start date
Feasibility Study 2002
Project completion date
Development 2004
Project status
IDA budget
2002           €   84 000
2003-2004   € 750 000
Responsible service
DG Employment and Social Affairs
Project coordinator
Shahida Rai
Countries involved
All European Union Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

EUlisses leaflet
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