Analysis of 35 countries

MB – 03/2023

The European Social Policy Network (ESPN) – an initiative of the European Commission from 2014 – furnishes independent information on social policy issues in the European Union and neighbouring countries. The current ESPN report focuses on how individual countries organise or simplify access and information and the claiming of social benefits in a transparent way.

The starting point of the report is the European Pillar of Social Rights and specifically Principle 12 – the right to adequate social protection. To implement this principle, the 2019 Council adopted a Recommendation on access of workers and self-employed persons to social protection. The report, which covers the period from 2017 to spring 2022, relates to sickness benefits, disability benefits, old-age benefits and survivors' benefits as well as benefits for accidents at work and occupational diseases in the area of German Social Insurance. In addition, the report addresses the cornerstones of national practices and policies for improved access to social systems, simplification of access and suggestions for improvement.

German Social Insurance hardly affected

Based on the national ESPN report for Germany, the branches of German Social Insurance as a whole are rarely mentioned in the summary ESPN report. This is the case with the topics personalised portal "SVLFG digital", DRV campaigns "#foralifetime" and on the basic pension, and the law on the development and implementation of a digital pension overview. This can be explained, among other things, by the fact that in the German National Plan on the aforementioned Council Recommendation, no particular need for action was seen on the part of the Federal Government and this assessment is shared by the rapporteurs of the German ESPN report.

Better information for platform workers and the self-employed

But the report lays down proposals for improvement that should also be taken into account in Germany. This concerns, for example, better information for atypical workers, such as platform workers and the self-employed, on how to access social security systems, as well as more counselling for these groups of people. Access for the self-employed should be simplified overall; an important point especially in view of the current German discussion on the inclusion of all self-employed persons in the statutory pension insurance.

Expanding the digital offerings of social insurance

In terms of digitisation, the range of online calculators for most social benefits should be extended and there should be easily accessible digital identification for online application procedures. The streamlining of (digital) information, avoidance of overlaps and creation of uniform databases should be pushed so that easy access to information is possible.

Ultimately, the involvement of the social partners and especially civil society - e.g. groups of pensioners - should be strengthened. Thus, digital literacy could also be improved so that all population groups can actually use the digital offers in the field of social insurance.