With division among member states on proposed revisions to the European Union’s (EU) social security coordination rules, the European Parliament (EP) has voted to postpone further work until after the May 2019 elections. Separately, the commission has proposed changing the EU’s decision-making procedures to make social security matters subject to a qualified majority vote in the Council of Ministers instead of a unanimous decision by member states.
Provisional Agreement Blocked by Some Member States
The commission had hoped to achieve by June 2019 final approval of a provisional agreement on the revised social security coordination rules published in March 2019. The provisional agreement, reached by representatives from the European Commission, Council of Ministers and the EP, includes measures to address:
- Social security coordination for self-employed workers
- Entitlement to parental leave allowances
- Export of entitlement to unemployment allowances when a worker moves to another member state
- Clarification of entitlement to long-term care allowances
- Improved coordination between national authorities
Certain member states — the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria — have voted against the proposed directive, and other countries (Malta, Hungary and Poland) abstained in a recent council meeting. These member states have formed a blocking minority, stalling the discussions.
Some member states believe that the proposals would not achieve the commission’s objectives of reducing fraud. Several member states also say the revised rules should include measures to reduce the amount of family benefits that workers could receive for families living in a different member state.
Next Steps Uncertain
The proposed social security coordination revisions were a key part of the commission’s European Pillar of Social Rights announced in 2017, but what steps will be taken to ease the deadlock are unclear. The EP’s vote postponement occurred in the last plenary session before the EP’s elections in May. In addition, the European Commission will announce a new College of Commissioners later this year when the current college’s term ends 31 Oct. The newly elected EP will not be bound by decisions taken by the old parliament and will likely have to restart the process for considering the proposals.
- European Parliament Vote (European Parliament, 18 Apr 2019)
- Commission Launches Debate on More Efficient Decision-Making in EU Social Policy (European Commission, 16 Apr 2019)
- Information on College Commissioners (European Commission)