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EU to streamline cross-border social security

EU to streamline cross-border social security

The EU is taking aim at improving and streamlining social security benefits, such as health care, pensions, and family allocations, for people who live and work outside their home nations.

The European Union (EU) turns 30 this year, marking three decades of citizens in the bloc having the right to move between borders to live and work without constraint. This freedom allows people to gain valuable experience, learn about new cultures, take advantage of wider educational opportunities, and acquire new skills.


Whilst the many benefits are well-documented, there are still areas where improvements can be made. One is in the realm of cross border social security coordination. The rules state that people are eligible to receive any benefits, including pensions, health care and family support, even if they travel or take jobs in other EU countries.

The reality is that red tape and difficulties accessing and sharing data between different countries’ national institutions, healthcare providers and labour inspectorates is complicated due to the inability to coordinate between national systems. Workers find themselves mired in paperwork, losing out on their benefits without an easy way to solve the problem.


To address this ongoing issue, the European Union has been taking steps to fully coordinate online systems to simplify the process with a few key proposals.

The first is the request to speed up the national implementation of the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI) so that it is fully operational by the end of 2024 across Europe.

As explained by the EU, the “EESSI digitalises the exchanges among national social security institutions, to move away from paper-based, time-consuming and cumbersome procedures.”

Next up is the creation of a Single Digital Gateway to make a completely synchronised online system that handles many administrative procedures no matter where people live or work. They hope to have this up and running by 12th December of this year.

They also plan to incorporate a European Social Security Pass (ESSPASS) pilot, which explores how to “simplify the issuance and verification of citizens’ social security entitlements across borders”.

And finally, they are working toward introducing EU Digital Identity (EUDI) wallets that give EU citizens a digital version of pertinent documents, such as their EU health cards, to make it easier for social security offices, labour inspectorates and healthcare providers to instantly verify a person’s status.

Photo credit: Christin Hume