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Coordination of social insurance systems: EU provides new impetus

With the proposed amendment to the EU Regulation on the coordination of social security systems, the European Commission wants to make it easier for EU citizens and their families to exercise their right to free movement and to improve their other rights associated with this.

CO/IW – 12/2016

The rules laid down in Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and (EC) No 987/2009 guarantee that no person moving to another Member State loses their social protection. In order for the regulations to fulfil their purpose, they are regularly adjusted to social and economic changes in the EU.  


The proposed revision from 13 December 2016 mainly affects the following: long-term care benefits, unemployment benefits, family benefits, access to social benefits for economically inactive citizens, and rules concerning the verification of rights for posted workers.  


With regard to long-term care, the EU Commission has proposed a specific definition of the term “long-term care benefits” for the purpose of coordination and to make access to benefits more transparent. The proposal for coordination of long-term care benefits is aligned with existing provisions on sickness benefits. The revision is a way for the Brussels authorities to respond to the ageing population and to provide greater legal clarity to the growing number of people who require long-term care, including across borders.  

In order to combat EU-wide unemployment, jobseekers will be able to double the amount of unemployment benefits they export from the current period of 3 months to 6 months. People who live in one country, work in another country and travel home at least once a week (frontier workers) will receive unemployment benefits from the Member State where they have worked for the last 12 months. A person must have worked at least three months in the Member State where they are claiming unemployment benefits in order to draw upon previous working experience in another Member State. 


Under the European Treaties, each Member State is free to decide how it designs and structures its own social security system. As such, EU regulations cannot obligate Member States to provide social benefits to economically inactive citizens from other Member States. Rather, these people must be able to provide for themselves and have comprehensive health insurance in order to legally reside there.  

The revision of the coordination regulation was part of the EU Commission’s 2016 Work Programme; its aim is to facilitate the right of citizens to freedom of movement, while at the same time better protecting workers’ rights. National authorities will be better able to fight the risk of abuse or fraud. The financial burden placed on Member States will be distributed more fairly by strengthening the “place of employment principle”. In this respect, the proposal aims to provide more transparency, legal certainty and fairness for mobile citizens, as well as for authorities, employers and taxpayers.