by Jana Fingarova, TRANSWEL
Intra-European mobility is directly connected to the transfer of social security rights for mobile EU citizens within the framework of the EU’s social security coordination system. In fact, the portability of social security is a central factor in enabling and guaranteeing free movement between mobility-sending countries and mobility-receiving countries and thus contributes to the realization of a European labour market.
Portability of social security rights involves the recognition and transfer of entitlements, which, rather than being a straightforward process, creates barriers for mobile EU citizens who are required to meet complex regulatory and institutional conditions. The goal of the TRANSWEL project was to analyse the portability of social security rights with regard to its regulations, practices and limitations by comparing patterns of post-enlargement labour mobility between four EU country pairs: Hungary–Austria, Bulgaria–Germany, Poland–United Kingdom and Estonia–Sweden. Focusing on the transitional state of Bulgaria and the conservative welfare state of Germany, this paper presents an analysis of institutional regulations with respect to the portability of social security rights in four areas: unemployment, family-related rights, healthcare and pensions.
Building on interpretative policy analysis and expert interviews, the research revealed that the portability of benefits concerning statutory pensions and healthcare is to a large extent clearly regulated, whereas regulations in the areas of unemployment and family-related benefits remain largely obscure. In sum, the analysis identified three most significant barriers to portability: a high level of discretion in some policy fields, differences between national security systems and the organization of information exchange between countries.
More info and working paper for download at www.welfarestatefutures.org