Commission calls for coordinated approach towards third countries
By Sophie Petitjean | Friday 30 March 2012
The European Commission suggests introducing a standard clause for the coordination of social security systems in the new association agreements with third countries in order to clarify the rights of persons who migrate from and to the EU. That is one of the ideas the Commission puts forward in a communication on the external dimension of social security coordination in the EU, which was adopted on 30 March. The document takes stock of the situation, mainly governed by bilateral agreement, and recalls the impact of EU legislation on these bilateral agreements. Most importantly, the communication makes proposals in view of developing a common approach. The aim is to better protect the rights of workers, and in particular, acquired pension rights.
“If member states cooperate, in that case, act together, they will reinforce their negotiation position with third countries and will be in better position to resolve common problems and to ensure, together, that the application of bilateral agreements is in line with EU law,” says the text.
According to the Commission, migrants and companies from third countries (who generally consider the EU to be a single entity) are often faced with different social security systems “which complicates settling down in the Union, moving within the Union, and leaving”.
The communication – which is ten pages long – proposes a new type of European agreement in terms of social security, these agreements would be based on a coordinated approach that is more flexible than the association agreements. These agreements could be made where needed (to resolve problems linked to dual social security contributions, for instance) with third countries with which there are no existing association or cooperation agreements, and could contain clauses specifically regarding a member state and the third country concerned.
The Commission then proposes adding a standard clause for the coordination of social security systems in the new association agreements with third countries. This clause would be based on the principle of equality of treatment, the principle of exportable pensions, and the principle of administrative cooperation.
Lastly, the new measures proposed by the Commission include tightening cooperation with four member states in particular, ie Albania, Montenegro, San Marino and Turkey. The Commission intends to propose new decisions to the Council on the position that the EU should adopt within stabilisation and association councils, association councils, or competent cooperation council, with regard to the coordination of the social security of the EU and of these countries. With specific regard to Turkey, the Commission recalls that is will be necessary to replace and update Decision 3/80 on the application of the social security schemes of the member states of the European Communities to Turkish workers and members of their families.
The EU’s provisions on the coordination of social security systems have existed for 50 years, and were updated and extended many times. A new legislative package, ‘Modernisation and coordination’, has been in force since 1 May 2010 (Regulation 883/2004 and Implementing Regulation 987/2009). As per Regulation 1231/2010, the EU rules of coordination in terms of social security also apply to nationals of countries that are not part of the EU but who are residing legally in the EU and are in a cross-borders situation. Moreover, some agreements between the EU and third countries contain provisions on cooperation in the field of social security.