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Better co-ordination of social security systems will strengthen workers' protection and facilitate labour mobility, say S&Ds


Social Europe & Jobs
The Socialists and Democrats led today a large majority in the employment and social affairs committee to ensure that each citizen has fair access to social security regardless of where she or he lives. The S&Ds strongly objected any attempts to introduce the indexation of family benefits in the place of residence of the children, as well as attempts to reduce overall social standards on the basis of false and demagogic claims aimed at stigmatising jobseekers. Thanks to the S&D Group’s efforts, the better protection of European workers’ rights when moving within Europe will be guaranteed.
The new rules aim to modernise and simplify existing rules, as well as guarantee a fair burden sharing of social security costs between member states. They focus 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 people working in more than one member state.
S&D MEP Guillaume Balas, Parliament’s negotiator on the coordination of social security systems file, said:
“Every day, 1.4 million Europeans commute to another member state for work; 2.3 million posting operations carry out services in another member state and over 2 million workers cross intra-EU borders on a daily basis to transport goods and passengers. To these numbers, we must add 17 million Europeans that work or live in a member state other than the one in which they were born. Which is the member state providing for these citizens? Where should they claim their social rights?
“In times of increased labour mobility, protecting social rights is of utmost importance. Equally important is maintaining the continuity of social security when moving from one legislation to another. With this report, we seek to guarantee to all EU workers an effective social protection that does not discriminate anyone. We also want to bring more clarity to the rules applicable to posted and self-employed workers, as well as to people engaged in multiple activities abroad. 
“False claims such as ‘social tourism’ have long been used as an excuse for not granting equal social rights or refusing any coordination efforts. This should no longer be the case. Studies clearly show that there is no massive social tourism in Europe. Nonetheless, such demagogic attempt manage to hurt people that are already in state of limbo. We cannot accept this.
“We S&Ds have fought for and achieved a number of improvements to the original text. We supported the extension of the period for exporting unemployment benefits from three to six months. Thanks to our efforts, a job seeker’s member state of last activity will be in charge of taking account of insurance periods completed elsewhere. Most importantly, we rejected any attempts to calculate child benefits subject to the member state of the residence of children despite the fact their parents live and work in another country. The country where parents pay their social contributions should remain responsible for paying child allowances.”
S&D vice-president for economic and social affairs, Mercedes Bresso MEP, said:
“Today’s vote is a big achievement for European citizens that work and live in a different member state. They will finally see their social security rights guaranteed and enhanced when moving within Europe.
“Equal treatment and the non-discrimination of workers must be ensured in all cases. We cannot accept that citizens lose their basic entitlements, such as access to unemployment benefits, when laid off from their jobs. Nor can we accept that some citizens enjoy lesser benefits for same contributions.
“We Socialists and Democrats have been fighting for and have ensured that workers be paid equally for equal work at the same place. In the same vein, we want same benefits for same contributions.
“The coordination of social security systems is a much-needed step forward to protect and facilitate labour mobility in practice. It is also a key element of the European Pillar of Social Rights.”
Note to editors
The coordination rules rely on four principles:
1. equal treatment: incoming workers have the same rights and obligations as the state’s own national
2. aggregation: previous periods of insurance, work or residence in other member states will be taken into consideration in the calculation of benefits
3. single applicable law: workers will be covered by and pay contributions to only one member state
4. exportability: social security benefits can be paid throughout the EU and be exported as well.
The European Parliament will enter into negotiations with the European Council as soon as the mandate is confirmed in plenary.


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