Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 13/12/2016

Fairness at the heart of Commission's proposal to update EU rules on social security coordination

Today the European Commission is presenting a revision of the EU legislation on social security coordination.

This is part of the 2016 Commission Work Programme and the Commission's efforts

  • to facilitate labour mobility,
  • ensure fairness for those who move and for taxpayers,
  • provide better tools for cooperation between Member State authorities.

The proposal modernises the current rules to ensure that they are fair, clear and easier to enforce.

Free movement of people would not be possible without EU rules on coordination of social security. These rules guarantee that you do not lose your social security protection when moving to another Member State. They exist since 1959 and are regularly modernised to ensure that they respond to the social and economic reality in the EU.

Today's proposed update reflects the political commitment of this Commission to a fair and truly pan-European labour market. It is a balanced proposal:

  • It facilitates free movement of workers and protects their rights.
  • At the same time it reinforces the tools for national authorities to fight abuse or fraud.
  • It makes a closer link between the place where contributions are paid and where benefits are claimed, ensuring a fair financial distribution of burden between Member States.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "Free movement is a fundamental right of our Union cherished by its citizens. It brings benefits to workers, employers and the economy at large, helping tackling labour shortages and skills gaps. We need labour mobility to make the Single Market prosper, and help restore economic growth and competitiveness. But mobility needs to be based on clear, fair and enforceable rules. This is a fair proposal: it safeguards free movement, while strengthening the tools to address possible abuse".

The proposal updates the EU rules in the following four areas:

Unemployment benefits:

  • Jobseekers may export their unemployment benefits from the current minimum period of 3 months to at least 6 months. This will give them a better chance to find work, and help tackle EU-wide unemployment and skill mismatches.
  • For frontier workers (who live in one country, work in another country, and go home at least once a week), the Member State where they worked for the last 12 months would become responsible for paying unemployment benefits. This reflects the principle that the Member State which has received contributions should pay benefits.
  • Member States may require that someone has worked for at least 3 months on its territory before a person who becomes unemployed can rely on previous experience in another Member State to claim unemployment benefits.

Long-term care benefits

This proposal clarifies what long-term care benefits are and where mobile citizens can claim such benefits. This will provide more legal certainty to a growing group of citizens in our aging societies relying on long term care.

Access of economically inactive citizens to social benefits

Based on case law of the European Court of Justice, the proposal clarifies that Member States may decide not to grant social benefits to mobile citizens which are economically inactive citizens – this means those who are not working nor actively looking for a job, and do not have the legal right of residence on their territory. Economically inactive citizens have a legal right of residence only when they have means of subsistence and comprehensive health coverage.

Social security coordination for posted workers

The Commission proposes to strengthen the administrative rules on social security coordination for posted workers. It wants to make sure national authorities have the right tools to verify the social security status of such workers and sets clearer procedures for cooperation between Member State authorities to address potentially unfair practices or abuse.

Finally, the proposal does not modify the existing rules on export of child benefits. No indexation of child benefits is foreseen: the country of work of the parent(s) remains responsible for paying the child allowances, and that amount cannot be adjusted if the child resides elsewhere. Less than 1% of child benefits in the EU are exported from one Member State to another.

Overall, the proposed changes will provide

  • more transparency
  • legal certainty
  • fairness

for the benefit of mobile citizens, public authorities, employers and taxpayers. They facilitate free movement whilst giving Member States better tools to avoid abuses.

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