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Agreement reached on social security coordination across EU

The EU institutions reached an agreement this week on revising the rules on the rights of citizens moving to another EU country. Among the innovations, job seekers will be given more time to find work abroad and the long-term care needs of older people living abroad will also be addressed. Moreover, national authorities will have better tools to address abuse or fraud and to verify the social security status of posted workers.

“The right to live, work or study across the Union – one of the most cherished benefits of the EU Single Market for sixty years – would not be possible without the EU rules on social security coordination,” said Marianne Thyssen (19 March), Commissioner in charge for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.

Among others the Posting of Workers Directive, “making the same pay for the same work at the same place a reality”, has been revised. The Commission has also reached an agreement to set up the European Labour Authority to make sure that the rules are effectively enforced.

According to the Commission, today about 17 million European citizens live or work in another Member State – twice as many as a decade ago. Millions more travel regularly to other European countries for holidays, work and family reasons.

Each Member State determines the features of its own social security system, including which benefits are provided, the conditions for eligibility, how these benefits are calculated and what contributions should be paid, and this for all social security branches, such as old age, unemployment and family benefits.

Over the year regulations have been put in place at EU level to ensure the coordination of national systems. The new rules modernise the existing legislation in three main areas: unemployment benefits, long-term care benefits and social security coordination for posted workers. 

The main change concerns unemployment benefits. Jobseekers will be able to export their 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.

The proposal also clarifies the social benefits to “mobile citizens which are economically inactive”. Existing rules on export of child benefits will remain the same.  Less than 1% of child benefits in the EU are exported from one Member State to another.

The provisional agreement now has to be formally adopted by both the European Parliament and the Council.

The Brussels Times