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Ironing out cross-border workers' sickness benefits

19/03/2012 Ironing out cross-border workers' sickness benefits

EU citizens working in one country but living across the border are at the heart of an EU-funded project called SSCALA, on the coordination of social security systems in the France-Belgium-Luxembourg-Germany border regions.

Keyina Mpeye, responsible for designing the project at the Belgian Social Security Agency FPS, explains.

What is the aim of this project?

SSCALA stands for Social Security Coordination: Activating Local Actors… But "scala" is also the Latin word for stairs! It reflects the main feature of the project, which is feedback rising from the bottom to the top. In the face of a very complex EU regulatory framework, this project indeed aims to better listen to the practitioners on the ground and to the citizens, in order to involve them more in the policy process. To start with, we decided to look at the sickness benefits of cross-border workers living in the France-Belgium-Luxembourg-Germany border areas.

Concretely, what are the main actions you carry out?

An information brochure has been drawn up, explaining the cross-border social security rights of cross-border workers. A satisfaction survey will be launched soon, in order to receive feedback on how the current rules are perceived by the target population, the difficulties experienced, the expected improvements… The outcome of this survey will be brought to the attention of the policy makers. This information process will be supported by a media campaign (radio spots, Internet animations), raising awareness of the target audience in a fun way. At the institutional level, we created a structured network, supported by an e-workspace, which allows experts from all the countries involved to exchange experiences. The idea is to directly connect the field actors to the national and EU policy makers, allowing them to submit feedback and improvement proposals. Finally, the outcome of this experience will be fed into a European conference, which aims to spread good practices and to capitalise on the lessons learned.

What are the benefits you expect?

Our ambition is to develop an innovative model of cooperation between institutions, better relying on the capacity of the field practitioners to address the legal issues raised by the EU regulations, with concrete and practical solutions. We hope that this project will demonstrate the interest to further develop this kind of user-oriented initiatives, closer to the daily reality experienced by the practitioners and the European citizens.

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