The coordination of social security systems is becoming more digital.

VS – 09/2023

The European Commission published a Communication on digitisation of the coordination of social security systems on 6 September. It outlines the European policies and processes that provide the framework for these initiatives. Furthermore, the progress already made in digitisation in the field of social security coordination is presented and future measures are proposed.

With this overview, the European Commission is responding to the frequently voiced criticism that it is becoming increasingly difficult to locate the digitisation processes in the area of social security within the framework of the many digitisation initiatives at European level.

Framework for diverse initiatives

The objectives agreed in the European Digital Decade form the framework for these initiatives, while the European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles forms the framework for the initiatives launched in the area of social security.

 European initiatives for the digitisation of public administration

The Communication lists the cross-sectoral EU initiatives that aim to digitise public administration. These initiatives lay down the regulation for a Single Digital Gateway. In it, it was agreed at European level to make 21 public administration processes fully digitally accessible. The pension application procedure, information on acquired pension rights and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) are relevant for the social security system. In addition, as one of the first projects, the application, issue and verification of the portable A1 document for proof of social insurance in the country of origin is to be implemented completely digitally throughout Europe. For these processes, a uniform digital access gateway, the Once Only Technical System, is being developed at European level to enable automatic interstate exchange of documents and information.

The European Digital Identity framework aims to provide citizens and businesses with an electronic proof of identity in the form of a digital wallet (EUID) that allows them to identify themselves digitally.

The Commission's Interoperable Europe Act proposal  aims to create a framework for cooperation between public administrations across the EU and to help ensure that secure cross-border data exchange is always included in digitisation processes in national administrations.


The listed cross-sectoral initiatives form the basis for the introduction of a European Social Security Pass (ESSPASS). The latter initiative pursues the goal that insured persons will also be able to prove their insurance status digitally in the future. This proof is to be provided by means of the ESSPASS. In accordance with the regulation for a Single Digital Gateway, all applications in the ESSPASS are to be oriented towards the insured persons. These are to have access to social security documents and information by means of a single access point, the EUID wallet.

Experience to date

The European Commission sees the responsibility for the slower than originally planned implementation of the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI) with the Member States and criticises their partial unwillingness to invest more. The communication does not mention other lessons learned from this process, such as having involved the social security institutions too late. However, this is not the case in the practical proposals made by the European Commission. Thus, the earliest possible involvement of all stakeholders in the two pilot projects on the ESSPASS is desired. Social security institutions that have not participated so far are invited to join the consortia even though the application deadline ended last year.

 Next steps

The European Commission announces that it will involve the European Labour Authority (ELA) more. This is intended to collect examples of successfully implemented digitisation procedures in the area of social security coordination by 2024, as well as to facilitate regular exchange between social security institutions via special workshops.