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Better coordination of social security systems in the EU

Apart from the revised Posted Workers Directive, the Commission at the end of last year also presented a revision of the coordination of social security systems. This proposal is currently intensively discussed by the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL); after all, it concerns the claim to unemployment benefit, social security benefits for persons in need of long-term care and other social benefits for EU citizens living and working respectively in another Member State.

On 23 March, the Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Marianne Thyssen, presented the proposal to the European Parliament's Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. She pointed out that it was a fundamental objective of the Commission to promote the mobility of European employees to enable these to react to the wide range of job offers within the EU. However, she clarified at the same time that restrictions in respect of claiming social benefits for those who did not seek work had to remain an option to avoid abuse.

This week, a hearing of experts took place in Parliament, during which the specifically proposed amendments were explained. Hence, the proposal by the Commission includes among other that in future employees shall receive unemployment benefit for a period of six instead of currently three months if they seek employment in another EU country. This is based on the condition that they have worked for at least three months in another EU country, enabling them to apply for unemployment benefit; apart from that they have to be unemployed against their will and they have to regularly report on their job search.

Another amendment concerns cross-border commuters, i.e. those employees, who commute across a border between their place of residence and their place of work on a daily or weekly basis. Until now, it has been the case that in the event of unemployment the country of residence would pay their unemployment benefit. However, to ensure that also the country, where employees last made their contributions, pays the benefit, in future, the country of employment shall pay the benefit, when employees had been employed for at least a year in the country concerned.

There shall be no important changes for posted employees, who until now also have to pay contributions in their country of origin, if the posting does not exceed a period of 2 years. In its Position Paper, the Chamber of Labour makes it clear that this period is too long. Above all, regulations on postings should protect employees to become victims of social dumping. At the same time, fast and transparent cross-border cooperation of the relevant authorities should make it possible to combat abuse of the rules on posting workers.

The European Commission does not regard it as an option to establish any indexing of family benefits, if family members live in another Member State. However, the Commission made it clear that analogue to the principle “equal pay for equal work in the same place” the same support for people in the same place had to apply. It also pointed out that the time and cost of indexing would be out of proportion to any possible savings.

Apart from the revision of the Coordination of Social systems, the European Commission will also present the European Pillar of Social Rights in two weeks’ time. The Chamber of Labour is hoping for important impulses so that the social dimension of the European Union can be strengthened at last.

Further information

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 883/2004

European Pillar of Social Rights

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