30 years of engagement in Brussels

German Social Insurance’s Milestones

When Otto von Bismarck laid the foundations for social legislation 140 years ago, he had no idea that Germany would be campaigning for a common Europe a good 70 years later on. Especially not that his German social insurance would one day fly the flag in Brussels, the capital of Europe.

Social insurance is a German success story. Based on the conviction that basic social needs must be met with political solutions, the statutory health, accident and pension insurance schemes have been repeatedly adapted over the course of time to meet new socio-political challenges. Be it through the inclusion of other groups of people, through changes in services or through reorganisations.

The leading organisations in the German social insurance scheme set up a joint European mission in Brussels in 1993. Their decision was made against the background of the Maastricht Treaty and the European Single Market. Their belief was that intensive economic cooperation within the EU must not neglect social issues. This made local political participation necessary.

DSV as a pioneer

The financial crisis of 2008/2009 made it clear yet again that a Europe that wants to be accepted by the people must also have a social face. This was clearly expressed in 2017 through the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Europe has grown together without unifying the social security schemes.

German Social Insurance representation was the first of its kind. Missions from other member states followed about ten years later. They found room in the "European Social Insurance House" at 50 rue d'Arlon, which is still the seat of German Social Insurance's European representation.

In addition to the strategic development work of the mission that represents the interests of the self-administered social insurance schemes from Germany, the European mission is also doing pioneering work in establishing a European voice. Under its leadership, the ESIP (European Social Insurance Platform) was founded in 1996 and it now represents 45 national social insurance schemes from 17 EU member states and Switzerland.

Impact of the EU

German Social Insurance European representation is extremely well positioned thanks to its three decades of "professional experience". Its institutions, with 56 million pensioners and 26 million pension recipients, over 73 million medically insured people and around 40 million employees in the statutory accident insurance schemes, lend great weight to their work.

Being a self-governmental scheme, the German social insurance scheme is an exception in Europe. The central task of the European mission has been communicating the advantages of the self-government principle at European level right from the beginning. This has always worked out well.

European health and social policies have changed 30 years after they were founded. The local work has become increasingly important. Europe often seems far away - but the Brussels initiatives and laws often have a direct impact, both on the social insurance institutions as well as on the insured.