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
... 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
Appeal and argumentation paper for download here