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New social security regulations enter into force in the EU

On 1 May 2010, new regulations on social security coordination in the European Union enter into force. The aim is to make life easier for Europeans on the move.

The new rules will make it easier for people to move to other European countries to work, helping to promote worker mobility in the EU – a pillar of the EU’s new strategy for jobs and growth “Europe 2020”. They will also help pensioners, job seekers and tourists. These rules are important because without effective protection of social security rights, there is in fact no actual right to free movement.

The new Regulation, like the current one (1408/71 and its implementing regulation 574/72), does not create any new entitlements to social security but guarantees that rights in the area of sickness insurance, pensions, unemployment and family benefits are preserved in the event of moving within Europe.

According to recent estimates by Eurostat, in 2008 around 11.3 million EU citizens or 2.3% of the overall EU population lived in another Member State to that of which they were a national. Over a million people cross a border every day for work.

Statistics also show that so far around 190 million European Health Insurance Cards have been issued (38% of the population). 27% of EU residents spend at least four nights a year on holiday in another Member State. Every year some 250 000 people are able to export a proportion of their pension rights when they retire because they have worked in more than one EU country.

Why change the current system?

Worker mobility is essential for the full operation of the internal market. In these difficult economic times this is even more important. Mobility plays a key role in reducing the impact of the crisis on employment. Some areas of Europe are suffering a labour shortage while others have high levels of unemployment. Facilitating mobility also helps to even out the labour markets. Workers who choose mobility should not be penalised as a consequence. This is why improving and facilitating the coordination of social security schemes is a priority of the EU.

What are the next steps?

Work is well under way on the creation of the EESSI (Electronic exchange of social security information) network and the preparation of the electronic messages containing the information required for the calculation and payment of benefits. To take account of the needs of certain EU countries to adapt their own systems, provision has been made for a transition period of two years for the electronic exchange of data. By 1 May 2012, however, all of the EU countries should be using this technique to exchange information between social security institutions and for all areas covered by coordination.

Training activities are ongoing in all of the Member States. The Commission is lending its support to these efforts. It is preparing easily accessible information for users – for example, the ongoing information campaign about the European Health Insurance Card.

EU's modernised social security - Briefing

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