The European Council and Parliament are not getting anywhere when it comes to the coordination of social security systems.

UM – 01/2022

The timing was certainly awkward. When the ambassadors met on 22 December last year to discuss the amendment to the coordination law, the new German government had been in office for only a few weeks. Cautiously, it abstained from the vote. It was not alone in this. Four other colleagues abstained from voting in COREPER I, and nine voted against. Thus, efforts to find a compromise in the trialogue on the amendment to the regulations on the coordination of social security systems failed again.

Pre-Christmas joy ...

The agreement of 16 December on a compromise text came as a surprise. This led to pre-Christmas joy and the hope of finally being able to conclude the difficult dossier. But the review of the text in all brevity of time brought disillusionment. In addition to technical errors - according to comments made behind closed doors - the rules of compromise apparently did not reflect the political will of the majority of governments. Disputes arose - as they often have before - over regulations on advance notification in the case of postings and on the transfer of unemployment benefits.

... and old bone of contention

The compromise wanted to leave it at the general application for an A1 certificate before a posting. Exception: For business trips, "delayed notification" should be possible up to three days after the start of the trip. The construction sector is an exception to this. The question of what should happen if the subsequent notification is not made remained open. Some found that unsatisfactory.

Proposals for the transfer of unemployment benefits have always suffered from the fact that a number of Member States - to put it briefly - considered the previous insurance periods too short and the benefit periods too long. The attempt to reach an agreement via a two-stage model that would at least allow people who have been in the system longer to receive benefits was apparently unsuccessful.

Everything back to square one?

The question of how to proceed remains open. Will France use its Council Presidency to make another attempt to find a solution in the trialogue? The country had vehemently supported the compromise proposal in December, but could not get the necessary majority behind it. In contrast, the European Commission announced as early as summer that it might withdraw its amendment surcharge altogether.

There is agreement on many things

However, that would be more than just regrettable. Despite all the controversy, one should not lose sight of the fact that there is already agreement on many points of the amendment proposal. From the point of view of the German Social Insurance, the regulations laid down on care benefits, in particular, belong to the credit side of the dossier. They are designed with little bureaucracy and establish a common understanding of what benefits in kind and cash benefits in long-term care are. This is immensely helpful for day-to-day intergovernmental operations.

Preserving what has been achieved

In the applicable law, regulations have also been laid down on the benefits to which family members have so-called "derived rights" if, for example, the parents live in different Member States. Prioritisation answers open questions here and avoids conflicts between payers at the expense of affected beneficiaries. Against this background, the European Representation of the German Social Insurance advocates that the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament at least agree to preserve and adopt in the further procedure what has been achieved so far.

Appeal and argumentation paper for download here