Social security within the EU

The free movement of persons is one of the fundamental rights in the European Union. Regulations on the coordination of social security schemes were adopted to secure social guarantees for persons migrating within the European Union. Social security schemes differ greatly between the Member States, but the regulations are not aimed at making them uniform. The main purpose is coordination of social security schemes to eliminate any obstacles to free movement of persons, ensuring social protection of migrants. The regulations on the coordination of social security schemes are applied directly, without the need to transpose them into national legislation, they prevail over the national law.

 

New regulations on the coordination of EU social security schemes

From 1 May 2010, new regulations on the coordination of social security schemes were introduced to the European Union Member States, including: Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the coordination of social security systems and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 (hereinafter referred to as the new regulations). The latter regulations replaced the Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 of the Council of 14 June 1971 on the application of social security schemes to employed persons, to self-employed persons and to members of their families moving within the Community and Regulation (EEC) No 574/72 of the Council of 21 March 1972 fixing the procedure for implementing Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 of 14 June 1971 (hereinafter referred to as the old regulations). 

Starting from 1 January 2011, the Regulation (EC) No 1231/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 extending application of the Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 to nationals of third countries who are not already covered by those provisions solely on the ground of their nationality. This regulation replaced the Regulation (EC) No 859/2003 of the Council of 14 May 2003 extending the provisions of Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 and Regulation (EEC) No 574/72 to nationals of third countries who are not already covered by those provisions solely on the ground of their nationality.


Who are covered by the new regulations?  

Application of the new regulations is extended to all EU nationals, i.e. new regulations on the coordination apply not only to employed persons, to self-employed or to members of their families but also to inactive nationals of the EU.  
Starting from 1 April 2012, the regulations apply to relations withSwitzerland, and from 1 June 2012 also to relations with the Member States of the European Economic Area (Norway,Lichtenstein,Iceland).  
Nationals of third countries in the relations with Denmark are exempt from the regulations. In the relations with the United Kingdom, nationals of third countries will remain covered by the Regulations (EEC) No. 1408/71 and 574/72.                
 

Key principles of the coordination of social security

The new regulations on the coordination of the EU social security schemes, same as the old ones, have four key principles established:

  • non-discrimination on grounds of nationality; 
  • person is covered by social insurance in oneMemberState only;
  • insurance periods completed in different Member States are aggregated; —    
  • benefits can be exported.

The new regulations consolidated the principle of cooperation (cooperation was included into the regulations as a separate principle). Lots of attention was focused also on raising awareness of public about the amendments made to the coordination regulations. 

 

Coordinating social insurance benefits

The new regulations, same as the old ones, apply to all key social insurance benefits, including: 

  • sickness and maternity benefits,
  • disability (incapacity for work) benefits, 
  • old-age benefits, 
  • survivor’s benefits, 
  • benefits related to accidents at work and occupational diseases, 
  • death grants, 
  • family benefits. 

But application of the new regulations is extended also to some new benefits, i.e. paternity benefits and prepensions.   
 

 

Other novelties stipulated in the new regulations

Furthermore, scope of application of the new regulations includes also new benefits, procedures of the implementation of the old regulations are specified in the new regulations, specific deadlines are established. New rules of refunding and collection of overpayments are approved.  
One of the major novelties stipulated in the new regulations is transition towards electronic exchange of information. At present, Member States communicate with each other by the use of E-forms, which contain all information needed for determining and approving person’s eligibility to benefits. In order to modernise and simplify the procedures of cooperation between the Member States and to shorten the time of social insurance benefit processing, the new regulations stipulate replacement of the paper E-forms with structured electronic documents (hereinafter referred to as the SED), i.e. transition towards electronic exchange of information.

SEDs are divided into separate groups by the fields of social insurance. National institutions are allowed to fill in SEDs in their official language. The latter documents are standardised and designed according to the established template, therefore the language of the SEDs does not matter, they will be understood by staff of competent institutions of other Member States.

But the provisions of the new regulations regarding electronic exchange of information are subject to transition period, during which use of E forms filled in by computer will be allowed, provided that such E forms contain all information needed for application of the new regulations, and the use of paper SED will also be allowed.

Institutions can follow the principles of cooperation, pragmatism and flexibility. The main goal is to guarantee social rights for persons covered by the regulations.

It should be noted that SEDs are intended for correspondence between competent bodies, while information needed for individuals will be provided in portable documents issued.

 

 

Other useful links:

Your rights country by country:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=858&langId=en

Last updated: 03-01-2018