the meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
Council (EPSCO) on 9 October, the Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs
adopted for the first time a set of conclusions on social protection solely concerning the self-employed. The common goal is to
close the gaps in coverage that still exist in the Member States. Thus, the
European Commission and the Member States are called upon to take action as
needed. In doing so, the ministers emphasised the importance of the
self-employed as key players in the European economy and innovation, whose
social security must be guaranteed.
Common goal with a long history
adequate social protection for all workers has been discussed at the European
level for many years. The European
Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) emphasises in Principle 12 that workers and
- under comparable conditions - the self-employed are entitled to adequate
social protection, regardless of the nature and term of their employment. The
Council included this in its 2019 Recommendation and the European Commission published the first report on the implementation of the Recommendation on 31 January.
Large gaps in protection of the self-employed
European Commission's January report shows that there are major gaps in the
social protection of the self-employed in particular in the Member States.
Thus, in 2022, the self-employed had no access to all branches of social
protection in more than half of the Member States. The report also emphasises
the low utilisation in social protection areas where access to social
protection is voluntary for the self-employed.
Monitoring should identify gaps
March, the Spanish Minister of Social Affairs, José Luis Escrivá, together with
the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Health,
Frank Vandenbroucke, announced an initiative on access of atypical workers and
the self-employed to social protection. A continuation of the European
Commission's reporting on the implementation of the Council Recommendation was
suggested. The Council conclusions no longer provide for this, but focus on the
further development of the Monitoring
framework on access to social protection. The analyses on social protection
of the self-employed based on the monitoring will then be systematically
included in all relevant reports of the Social Protection Committee, such as
the Joint Employment Report.
this context, the ministers place a special focus on the actual protection of
the self-employed. To this end, the monitoring framework is to be further
developed. This applies both to the actual coverage in the various branches of
social protection and to the scope of benefits for the self-employed.
no longer focuses on identifying best practice and learning from each other.
Instead, progress in closing gaps in social protection should be constantly
Raising awareness of social security for the self-employed
Council sees another focus in raising awareness among the self-employed on the
topic of social protection. Furthermore, access to social protection systems is
to be improved through information geared towards the self-employed as well as
user-friendly digitisation of the various areas of social protection.