Paolo Soro

Updated rules on social security coordination and better enforcement of EU law

The Commission steps up efforts to facilitate labour mobility, ensure fairness, and provide better tools for cooperation between Member States. It also presents ways to strengthen the enforcement of EU law for the benefit of citizens, consumers and businesses.

Updated EU rules on social security coordination

Free movement of people would not be possible without EU rules on the coordination of social security. Today's proposed revision of EU rules on social security coordination reflects the political commitment of this Commission to fair labour mobility. It is a balanced proposal that facilitates free movement of workers and protects their rights, while reinforcing the tools for national authorities to fight risks of 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.

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

1. For unemployment benefits the Commission proposed that 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.

2. The proposal also 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.

3. Regarding access of economically inactive citizens to social benefits the proposal clarifies - based on case law of the European Court of Justice, that Member States may decide not to grant social benefits to mobile citizens which are economically inactive - 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 where they are able to financially support themselves and where they have comprehensive health coverage.

4. The Commission also proposed 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.

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.

Enforcement of EU law for the benefit of citizens, consumers and businesses

The Commission decided to step up its efforts on the application, implementation and enforcement of EU law for the benefit of all citizens, consumers and businesses. Common European rules matter in our daily lives – whether they increase food safety, improve air quality or make it easier and cheaper for SMEs to bid for public contracts. Often, when issues come to the fore – such as car emission testing, water pollution or illegal landfills – the problem is not the lack of EU rules but rather the lack of their effective application by Member States.

The components of this robust and efficient enforcement system are the following:

Making sure that Member States live up to their responsibility to respect and enforce the rules they themselves had jointly put in place.

Focusing the Commission's enforcement on those cases where it makes a substantial difference, and stepping up financial sanctions for Member States when they fail to transpose directives on time.

Raising citizens' and businesses' awareness of their rights.

Services package of Single Market Strategy

The College held an in-depth orientation debate on the various elements of the Services package foreseen in the Single Market Strategy - which is an important contribution for jobs and growth. The College will return to this file on 11 January.

Source: European Commission News

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