Coordination of social security systems: Council agrees general approach - EU monitor

EU monitor
Zaterdag 19 oktober 2019
Met dank overgenomen van Raad van de Europese Unie (Raad)ái, gepubliceerd op donderdag 21 juni 2018.

On 21 June 2018, the Council agreed its negotiating position (general approach) on the coordination of social security systems (revision of regulations 883/2004 and 987/2009). On the basis of this mandate, the Council Presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament once the latter has adopted its position.

The coordination of social security systems plays a key role in ensuring that the free movement of people works in practice. This update of the rules will make them clearer, fairer and easier to enforce.

Biser Petkov, Minister for Labour and Social Policies of Bulgaria

The revision of the regulations on coordination of social security systems aims at modernising the rules by bringing them in line with the development of national social security systems, as well as making them clearer, fairer and simpler to enforce. This will make it easier for people to move freely within the EU.

The draft amending regulation focuses on five areas: unemployment benefits, long-term care benefits, access to benefits for economically inactive persons, family benefits and applicable legislation for posted workers and persons working in two or more member states. It also includes a number of other smaller amendments.

On unemployment benefits, the draft amending regulation updates rules on aggregation, exportability and the coordination of unemployment benefits for frontier and cross-border workers:

  • It allows for member states to extend the period jobseekers are allowed to export their unemployment benefits up to the end of the period of their entitlement to benefits, instead of the current limit of 6 months.
  • It encourages a closer tie between the labour market of the member state responsible for providing unemployment benefits and the unemployed person by allowing member states to require someone to work for at least one month on their territory before aggregating the previous periods they worked prior to claiming unemployment benefits. Otherwise the member state in which that person worked earlier, if they worked there for at least one month becomes responsible for aggregation.
  • It establishes a closer link between the labour market of the member state responsible for providing unemployment benefits and the unemployed person by switching the member state responsible for paying unemployment benefits from the member state of residence to the member state of last employment if the person worked there for at least 3 months.

The draft amending regulation reflects the impact of the aging society and the increasing role long term-care benefits play in national social security systems. In order to increase legal certainty, it clarifies the rules under which long-term care benefits can be coordinated. A stable regime for long-term care benefits coordination will contribute to facilitating the mobility of those in need of long-term care and persons caring for them.

Changes regarding family benefits aim to promote shared child raising responsibilities and remove potential financial disincentives for parents who reduce their working hours to take care of their child during the same period. The proposal distinguishes between family benefits in cash intended to replace income not earned due to child-raising and all other family benefits.

On applicable rules for posted workers, the proposed changes aim to ensure legal clarity and combat fraud by introducing:

  • a period of prior affiliation and a time period between consecutive postings, as being at least 3 months and at least 2 months respectively
  • clear criteria for determining the location of the registered office or place of business of the employer of a posted worker
  • the possibility for retroactive withdrawal or rectification of a document in case of fraud or error

On access to benefits for economically inactive persons, the draft amending regulation aims to ensure legal clarity by referring to relevant recent case law.


Social security systems in the EU are not harmonized. Every member state can decide who is insured under their legislation, what benefits they are entitled to and what the conditions of access are. However, to ensure that the free movement of people is possible in practice t national social security systems need to be coordinated.

The rules to define this coordination are adopted at EU level and are regularly updated to adapt them to the changing working and living conditions of EU citizens. On 13 December 2016, the European Commission submitted the latest proposal to amend the regulations on coordination of social security systems, which have now been discussed and a position agreed upon at the Council of the EU.

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