Social security in Europe
Social security in Europe
1. Social security conditions - a vital issue for individuals exercising their right of free movement
Respecting the principle of free movement of workers requires the clear commitment from all EU Member States that migrant workers, exercising their profession in another Member State, have the right to the same benefits of social security as local employees. Providing social protection to EU citizens working outside their country of residence is a crucial issue for the European Union.
The EU provisions on social security cover both the Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).
2. Community social security provisions
Social security systems in EU countries still show substantial differences, and this calls for a necessary coordination of social security regulations. Common rules ensuring access to social benefits are important to avoid disadvantages for European workers exercising their right of free movement. They are designed to prevent EU citizens from running the risk of being ensured twice or losing their social security benefits when moving to another country.
Although there is no single European social security system, the EU has set common provisions in the field of social protection. This includes the coordination of national social security schemes without seeking to harmonise national regulations. EU law has laid down common rules and principles to be observed by national local authorities and social security institutions that do not replace, but complement, the social security provisions of Member States.
The common social security provisions have the objective to:
- stimulate the free movement of workers, by guaranteeing equal treatment of EU nationals under different legislations
- guarantee social protection to employees and the self-employed (and their families) in whichever EU country they exercise their activity
- ensure that all periods of employment are considered, while periods of overlapping social security systems need to be avoided
3. The application of common provisions
- maternity and sickness
- family benefits
- workplace accidents
- old-age and invalidity pensions
- survivor benefits
- unemployment benefits
4. Who can benefit from social protection within the EU?
- workers, who are nationals of an EU Member State and who are or have been insured under the laws of this Member State, as well as members of their family
- pensioners, who are nationals of an EU Member State
- third country nationals, who are insured under the legislation of a Member State
- stateless persons and refugees, as well as their families, if they are working in the EU and are insured under the laws of one of the EU Member States