The European Commission has asked Finland to remove a discriminatory condition affecting migrant workers' entitlement to unemployment benefits.
Like most EU Member States, Finland has a general condition requiring workers to have a minimum period of employment or self-employment to qualify for unemployment benefit. However in Finland migrant workers applying for unemployment benefit must in addition have worked in Finland for at least four weeks as an employee, or four months in self-employment. If this requirement is not met, the applicant's insurance for employment or self-employment periods completed in another Member State are not taken into account and he or she is thus not entitled to unemployment benefits.
The Commission considers that the requirement of minimum employment or self-employment periods in Finland in order for previous periods completed in another Member State to be taken into consideration is in contradiction with EU legislation.
The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 45) and Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 (Article 6) require Member States to take into account periods of insurance, residence and employment periods completed under the legislation of any other Member State as though they were periods completed under their own legislation.
This requirement constitutes one of the basic principles for the coordination of social security schemes in the European Union. It ensures that by exercising the right to free movement, migrant workers are not deprived of social security advantages to which they would have been entitled if they had spent their working life in only one Member State.
The Commission's request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion" under EU infringement procedures. Finland has now two months to notify the Commission of the measures taken to comply with EU rules. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Finland to the EU's Court of Justice.