AGE supports a European Social Security Number – if it enhances clarity for citizens

Answering a public consultation of the European Commission, AGE has welcomed thoughts about a European Social Security Number and a European Labour Market Authority. Both ideas were proposed by Commission president Juncker during his State of the Union speech in September 2017. While the proposal is vague for the moment, AGE welcomes the general idea of enforcing the implementation of EU social law in a uniform way – but a key consideration should be improving the clarity of rules to citizens and employers.

EU Social Security Number: a potential for improving information to citizens on their rights

The proposal for a European Social Security Number would bring a significant number of benefits, if implemented in a smart way. EU Social Security Numbers could make access to individuals’ data, such as pension contributions and expected levels, procedures for cross-border health treatment or rights to unemployment benefits and active labour market policies much easier. This could be especially interesting for the social security branches currently covered by EU coordination. An even more ambitious idea would be to make it clearer to each individual how to deal with aspects that are currently not harmonised: for instance, it is difficult for individuals to understand where and how pension entitlements from different branches of pension systems (statutory, occupational and private) are taxed and should be declared. A citizens’ portal with an EU Social Security Number could automatically select and present relevant bits of national rules and regulations. Also governments would benefit as they would be able to foresee the pension or health care entitlements of workers that do not live in the country of their entitlement (for example, cross-border workers or pensioners living in another EU member state).

An important caveat exists however: citizens should know and stay in control of who uses and has access to their personal data under this system. For example, the history of received health care services should not be automatically shared with private insurers without the consent of the concerned citizen. Also, in some domains such as occupational and private pension, more efforts should be pursued in defining EU categories for benefits.

EU Labour Market Authority: a good idea that should not replace current EU agencies

On the European Labour Market Authority, AGE considers that it could be beneficial as well in ensuring uniform application of common EU employment and social law. In its contribution, AGE stresses however that this should not replace the very positive activities that EU agencies are already undertaking, such as for the prevention of work-related risks by EU-OSHA or research into labour market conditions and quality of life by Eurofound. A European Labour Market Authority could bring together national labour inspectorates and drive forward the definition of common categories and concepts in the application of EU law, however.

You can read the full contribution of AGE to the public consultation here

For more information, please contact Philippe Seidel,

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