Creating a social Europe with free movement
In addition to the ongoing economic and social
inequality in the EU Member States, a reorien
tation of the social dimension in the EU is essen
tial due to changes in working and living condi
tions and demographic developments. The “Euro
pean Pillar of Social Rights” is a valuable instru
ment for improving social equality. This is why it
will be brought to life through several projects
in the coming years. Such initiatives at EU level
must take into account the diversity of social
security systems and the different economic cir
cumstances in the Member States. The EU’s
role in coordinating social security systems has
proven its worth. It should continue to promote
cooperation between Member States where there
is clear added value.
Making the most of digitalisation
The digitalisation of social security services and
the way they communicate with insured persons
and employers should not be an end in itself. The
full potential of digitalisation will only manifest
itself when the administrative burden on insured persons and employers is significantly reduced. This can be helped by sharing electronic records
as much as possible (following the “onceonly
principle”), while also safeguarding data protection.
The recently created European Single Digital
Gateway is a useful means of making it easier for
citizens to communicate with authorities, including across borders, and should be systematically
expanded. In addition to digital services, other
communication channels should also be main
tained so as not to exclude anyone.
International cooperation to ensure payment of social security contributions
The globalisation of economic and labour
relations is leading to an increase in crossborder
services and exchanges. A prominent example
is brokering or organising work via electronic plat
forms. In this situation, at least three parties
interact – client, contractor, platform – and each
can be active in different countries. As a result,
ensuring that all workers have social security protection and that the contributions due are actually paid is a complex task. Platform work is a phenomenon both in Europe and internationally. It is therefore important to also find solutions at both these levels. In the coming years, Europe must
increasingly address the issue of social protection.
Discussions that consolidate interests and pro
mote cooperation between participating authorities and social security institutions also need to be initiated.
Potential opportunities in the health sector
Citizens should also continue to benefit from
European unity in the future. Be it directly through a wellfunctioning health system when staying in another EU country or indirectly through close
cooperation between Member States, for example when authorising medicines. In order to make the health systems fit for the future, we must jointly harness their potential. Examples include
the assessment of medicinal products and medical devices to ensure the best possible care of patients, making use of digitalisation and artificial intelligence, and joint research efforts. The
European Union’s goal of jointly taking on
Europewide challenges and pooling efforts at
European level through research in health systems and healthcare must be at the heart of this.
Challenges of an ageing society
In the European social model, statutory pension
systems play a central role in ensuring an
adequate income in old age. Depending on the
Member States’ preferences, they are supplemented by occupational and private pension
schemes. In view of demographic change and economic conditions, all systems face the challenge of ensuring the sustainable financing of adequate benefits. It is particularly important
to find solutions by creating better and more inclusive working arrangements in order to enable insured persons to acquire sufficient rights and to make retirement flexible. Good examples of this are initiatives within the framework of the European Pillar of Social Rights to reduce the “gender
pay gap” and to integrate older people into the
labour market. A wellorganised exchange of experience at European level can also provide
valuable momentum here.
“Vision Zero” through a culture of prevention
A person’s health is a valuable resource that
must have top priority at work and be maintained
by all suitable means. The ultimate goal is “Vision Zero” – the vision of a world without workrelated accidents and illnesses. The highest
priority is to avoid fatal and serious accidents at
work and occupational diseases. Digitalisation
and demographic change are changing the way
work is organised and, as a result of longer
working lives, to new challenges in terms of prevention and maintaining employability. To achieve a long and healthy working life – even in
the changing world of work – joint efforts are needed. These should include a comprehensive
culture of prevention covering all areas of life.
Policies and strategies for rehabilitation and rein
tegration should strengthen or restore the
employability of older people and people who
have been injured or suffered an illness. We
welcome the European Parliament’s initiative to
increase the prominence of this issue.
We’d love to hear from you!
German Social Insurance European Representation