Tag Archives: Social rights

National Roma Integration Strategies: Common European Framework

National Roma Integration Strategies: Common European Framework

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about National Roma Integration Strategies: Common European Framework

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

National Roma Integration Strategies: Common European Framework

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 5 April 2011 – An EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 [COM(2011) 173 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European Union (EU) invites its Member States to adopt national strategies aimed at improving the economic and social situation of Roma * by 2020. The Commission presents a framework of common European goals that complement the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Before the end of 2011, Member States are to propose integration strategies or packages of policy measures aimed at improving access by Roma:

  • to education, so that each child at least completes primary school;
  • to employment, health care, housing, and basic services (particularly public water, gas and electricity networks), so as to reduce existing disparities with the rest of the population.

The Commission is to carry out an assessment of these strategies in 2012 and monitor their implementation, by means of a monitoring mechanism involving various stakeholders. In this regard, it plans to present annual monitoring reports to the Council and the European Parliament.

Lastly, the Commission encourages reforms and the strengthening of the European Platform for Roma Inclusion.

Implementation of national strategies

National goals for Roma integration should be set, taking account of needs, constraints and the diverse situations in each Member State.

The preparation of integration strategies is to take place with the participation of the stakeholders concerned, in particular local and regional authorities, representatives of civil society and Roma.

A single national contact point is to be created in each Member State to monitor action.

Funding

Sources of funding for national strategies must be clearly identified. Such funding may come from national budgets, structural funds or other European funding (such as the Progress microfinance instrument, the Social Innovation Europe initiative, etc.) or international grants.

EU Enlargement

European goals for Roma integration apply to the countries concerned by EU enlargement policy. The Commission undertakes to support the efforts of those countries, including by increasing the European funding available.

In addition, the progress of each country will be monitored by the Commission and presented in annual enlargement reports.

Key terms
  • Roma: term used as an umbrella to refer to groups of people such as Sinti, Travellers, Kalé, Gens du Voyage, etc., whether sedentary or not.

Coordination of social security systems

Coordination of social security systems

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Coordination of social security systems

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social protection

Coordination of social security systems

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the coordination of social security systems [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The social security systems of the countries of the European Union (EU) are coordinated. However, social benefits and the conditions under which they are granted are determined at national level, depending on the traditions and culture of each country.

European law lays down rules and principles to guarantee the right of free movement of persons in the EU.

Persons concerned

This Regulation applies to all nationals of an EU country who are or who have been covered by the social security legislation of one of those countries, as well as to the members of their family and their survivors.

It also applies to third country nationals living legally in the EU and whose situation connects them to several Member States. The Regulation also applies to members of their families and their survivors.

According to the principle of equal treatment, nationals of an EU country and persons residing in that country without being nationals of it are equal in terms of the rights and obligations provided for by the national legislation.

The provisions of this Regulation apply to all the traditional branches of social security:

  • sickness,
  • maternity,
  • accidents at work,
  • occupational diseases,
  • invalidity benefits,
  • unemployment benefits,
  • family benefits,
  • retirement and pre-retirement benefits,
  • death grants.

The Regulation also recognizes the principle of the aggregation of periods, pursuant to which periods of insurance, employment or residence in an EU country are taken into account in all the other EU countries. This means that the acquisition of the right to benefits in one State must take account of periods of insurance, employment, self-employment or residence in another EU Member State.

Determination of the applicable legislation

The insured person is subject to the legislation of a single Member State only. The Member State concerned is the one in which he or she pursues a gainful activity.

Particular rules are provided for certain categories of workers, such as civil servants who are subject to the legislation of the Member State to which the administration employing them is subject, and workers who are employed or self-employed in several EU countries.

Benefits in kind (sickness, maternity and paternity)

Frontier workers are affiliated to the body of the country in which they work, while residing in another EU country and having access to health care in both States. Special provisions are provided concerning benefits in kind intended for members of their family.

Persons staying in an EU country other than their country of residence, in particular during holidays, must be able to receive necessary medical benefits during their stay. It is the legislation of the State in which they are staying which determines the financial conditions for the award of the benefits, but the costs are borne/reimbursed by the social security body of the country of origin. This right is certified by the European Health Insurance card, which every insured person may request from his/her social security body.

Members of the retired worker’s family are entitled to certain benefits in kind, even if they reside in a Member State other than that of the holder of the pension.

Retired frontier workers

This category of insured person can receive benefits in the last State in which they worked if it concerns the continuation of medical treatment which began in that State.

They, as well as their families, can continue to receive medical treatment in the last Member State in which they worked:

  • without restriction if they have pursued a frontier activity for two years during the five years preceding the retirement or invalidity;
  • provided the Member States concerned have opted for this.

Benefits for accidents at work and occupational diseases

Persons staying or residing in a Member State other than that in which they are affiliated to social security nevertheless benefit from the scheme covering accidents at work and occupational diseases. These benefits are provided by the institution of the place of stay or residence in accordance with the legislation which is applicable there.

The institution of the State in which the worker is affiliated bears the costs of transporting him/her to his/her place of residence. The institution must have previously reached agreement on this form of transport, except in the case of frontier workers.

Death grants

When an insured person or member of his/her family dies in a Member State other than the competent Member State, death is deemed to have occurred in the competent Member State. Hence the competent institution must provide the death grants payable under the legislation it applies even if the person entitled resides in another Member State.

Invalidity benefits

As regards invalidity benefits, Member States may decide to determine the amount of the benefits on the basis of the duration of periods of insurance or residence (see Annex VI to the Regulation).

Old-age pensions

All Member States in which a person has been insured must pay an old-age pension when the insured person reaches the age of retirement. The calculation of the amount of the benefits takes into consideration all the periods completed in another Member State.

The Regulation also contains rules concerning the way in which the competent institutions calculate benefits and establishes rules to prevent overlapping.

If a worker is entitled to benefits in several EU countries, the total amount of the benefits must not be less than the minimum provided for in the legislation of his/her Member State of residence, if the State of residence has a minimum pension scheme. Otherwise, the institution of the Member State of residence must pay compensation.

Unemployment benefits

As regards unemployment benefits, the competent institution of a Member State must take into account the periods of insurance, employment or self-employment completed under the legislation of any other Member State as though they were completed under the legislation it applies.

An unemployed person may move to another Member State in order to seek work while retaining entitlement to benefits for three months. The competent services or institutions may extend this period up to a maximum of six months. If the unemployed person does not return on or before the expiry of this period he/she loses all entitlement to benefits.

Preretirement

Beneficiaries of statutory pre-retirement schemes may receive their benefits and be covered for their health care and family benefits in another European country. Based on the principle of equal treatment, they must have the same rights and obligations as other citizens of the country.

Since statutory pre-retirement schemes exist only in a very small number of Member States, this Regulation excludes the rule concerning the aggregation of periods for the acquisition of entitlement to pre-retirement benefits.

Family benefits

A person is entitled to family benefits in a competent Member State, including for members of his/her family residing in another Member State, as if they were residing in the former Member State.

In the case of overlapping benefits, family benefits are provided in line with the priority rules set out.

Special non-contributory cash benefits

Contrary to the general rule, these benefits are not exportable if they are listed in Annex X and if they fulfil certain criteria. Besides, these criteria apply to all Member States, with the result that similar benefits will be treated in the same way.

Coordination instruments in social security systems

This Regulation reinforces the principle of good administration. The institutions must respond to all queries within a reasonable period of time and must in this connection provide the persons concerned with any information required for exercising the rights conferred on them by this Regulation. Besides, in the event of difficulties in the interpretation or application of this Regulation, the institutions involved must contact one another in order to find a solution for the person concerned.

The Regulation provides for mechanisms designed to guarantee smooth functioning and enhanced cooperation between Member States and institutions in the field of social security, notably:

  • an Administrative Commission, responsible for handling any question of interpretation arising from the provisions of this Regulation or any accord or agreement concluded in the framework of the Regulation;
  • a Technical Commission within the Administrative Commission, responsible for assembling technical documents, studies and the associated activities;
  • an Audit Board which will establish the average costs for reimbursement of healthcare costs in Member States;
  • an Advisory Committee, responsible for preparing opinions and proposals for the Administrative Commission.

Context

Coordination of social security systems got under way in 1971 with the adoption of Council Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71. This Regulation guaranteed equal treatment and social security benefits to all workers who are Member State nationals, regardless of their place of employment or residence.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 883/2004

20.5.2004

OJ L 314 of 7.6.2004

Amending Act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 988/2009

30.10.2009

OJ L 284 of 30.10.2009

Regulation (EC) No 1231/2010

1.1.2010

OJ L 344 of 29.12.2010

Regulation (EU) No. 465/2012

28.6.2012

OJ L 149 of 8.6.2012

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purpose only.

Related Acts

Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems (Text with relevance for the EEA and for Switzerland) [Official Journal L 284 of 30.10.2009]
This Proposal details the implementation procedures which should ensure that benefits are granted quickly and efficiently, despite the wide range of national social security systems.

Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015

Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 21 September 2010 – Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015 [COM(2010) 491 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Strategy follows on from the roadmap 2006-2010 for equality between women and men. It takes up the priorities defined by the women’s charter and forms the Commission’s work programme. It also outlines the key actions planned for the period 2010-2015.

This Strategy also acts a basis for the cooperation between the Commission and the other European institutions, Member States and other stakeholders, as part of the European Pact for equality between women and men.

Economic independence of women

The female employment rate has increased significantly during the past decade. However, this progression needs to continue if the objective of a 75% employment rate, as set by the Europe 2020 strategy, is to be met. It also needs to be extended to those groups of women with the lowest employment rates. Progress is needed in order to improve the quality of jobs and work/life reconciliation policies.

The Commission will undertake initiatives aimed at:

  • promoting equality as part of the Europe 2020 strategy and through EU funding;
  • promoting female entrepreneurship and self-employment;
  • assessing workers’ rights with regard to leave for family reasons;
  • assessing Member States’ performance with regard to childcare facilities;
  • supporting gender equality in matters of immigration and the integration of migrants.

Equal pay

The Commission highlights that the gender pay gap still exists, including for equal work and work of equal value. There are many causes of this pay gap, in particular, segregation in education and in the labour market.

In order to contribute towards eliminating unequal pay, the Commission will:

  • with social partners, explore possible ways to improve the transparency of pay;
  • support equal pay initiatives in the workplace such as equality labels, ‘charters’ and awards;
  • institute a European Equal Pay Day;
  • seek to encourage women to enter non-traditional professions, for example in the ‘green’ and innovative sectors.

Equality in decision-making

Women are under-represented in the decision-making process, both in parliaments and national governments and on management boards of large companies, despite making up half the workforce and more than half of new university graduates in the EU.

The Commission will:

  • propose targeted initiatives to improve the situation;
  • monitor progress made towards achieving the 25% target for women in top-level decision-making positions in research;
  • promote an increase in the number of women in the committees and expert groups established by the Commission, with the aim of achieving at least 40% female membership;
  • promote greater participation of women in European Parliament elections.

Dignity, integrity and an end to gender-based violence

According to estimates, 20 to 25% of women living in the EU have suffered physical violence at least once during their lives and up to half a million women living in Europe have been subjected to genital mutilation.

The Commission will:

  • propose an EU-wide strategy on combating violence;
  • ensure that EU asylum legislation takes account of gender equality considerations;
  • monitor gender issues in the field of health.

Gender equality in external actions

The EU’s external policy will contribute towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. In this respect, the Commission will:

  • progress equal treatment between women and men in the candidate and potential candidate countries for accession to the EU;
  • implement the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development (2010-2015);
  • conduct a regular dialogue and exchange of experience with the European Neighbourhood Policy partner countries;
  • integrate equal treatment considerations into humanitarian aid operations.

Horizontal issues

The Commission is committed to progressing equal treatment between women and men, paying particular attention to:

  • the role of men in gender equality;
  • disseminating good practice on redefining gender roles in youth, education, culture and sport;
  • the correct implementation of European legislation, particularly Directive 2004/113/EC on equal treatment in the access to and supply of goods and services and Directive 2006/54/EC on equal opportunities;
  • the governance and tools of gender equality, particularly through the drafting of an annual report on gender equality in order to contribute to a yearly top-level Gender Equality Dialogue involving the European Parliament, the Commission, Member States and key stakeholders.

Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights

Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Citizenship of the Union

Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights

Document or Iniciative

EU citizenship report 2010 of 27 October 2010 – Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights [COM(2010) 603 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The report is a strategic initiative of the Commission and presents the main obstacles European Union (EU) citizens continue to face in their daily lives when exercising their EU rights across national borders. It also provides an overview of the measures the Commission intends to take to overcome these obstacles. In parallel with this report, the Commission also adopted the communication “Towards a Single Market Act”, which focuses on the obstacles that consumers, entrepreneurs, workers, etc. face when acting within the single market.

The report identifies the main obstacles that EU citizens may still confront in their private, academic or professional life, when consuming goods and services or in their role as political actors. It proposes concrete solutions to be implemented by the Commission in the next years. A complete list of the 25 legislative actions and other measures aimed at facilitating EU citizens’ daily lives can be found at the end of the report.

Citizens as private individuals

To eliminate the main obstacles EU citizens face in cross-border situations in their private lives, the Commission will propose a series of measures aimed at:

  • making it easier for international couples to know which courts have jurisdiction and which law applies to their property rights;
  • facilitating the free circulation of civil status documents and enabling citizens to easily find multilingual information on justice via the European e-Justice web portal;
  • improving the protection of victims of crime and of persons suspected and accused in criminal proceedings;
  • simplifying the formalities and conditions for the registration of cars previously registered in another EU country and finding solutions to double registration taxes or discriminatory tax treatment of cars;
  • facilitating access to cross-border health care and to eHealth technologies;
  • ensuring that EU citizens whose country of origin does not have a consulate in a non-EU country are effectively assisted by the consulate of any other EU country.

Citizens as consumers

When buying holiday packages or when travelling within the EU as passengers or as tourists, citizens are often not aware of their rights or are confronted with situations where these rights are not sufficiently enforced. Persons with disabilities often face additional difficulties, notably in accessing transportation, information and other goods and services.

EU citizens are still hesitant to purchase goods and services across national borders, mainly because they lack confidence in consumer protection rules (currently, there is no single set of EU-wide consumer protection rules) or are insufficiently aware of the means of redress available to them.

To remove these barriers, the Commission will take a series of initiatives in order to:

  • modernise current rules for the protection of consumers buying package travel;
  • ensure a set of common rights for passengers travelling by any transport mode;
  • propose an EU Disability Strategy 2010-20;
  • increase consumer confidence in tourism products;
  • set out in an understandable way the rights of users of online services;
  • facilitate fast and inexpensive out-of-court resolution of consumer problems (such as Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms and mediation).

Citizens as residents, students and professionals

Due to some EU countries’ incorrect application of EU law on EU citizens’ right to free movement within the Union, as well as the cumbersome administrative procedures that they can sometimes impose, citizens are faced with particular difficulties with regard to entry, residence and access to various kinds of benefits. Further obstacles hindering work abroad relate, among others, to EU countries’ divergent social security systems and to complex cooperation between national social security institutions.

To tackle these problems, the Commission will:

  • strictly enforce EU rules on free movement and step up dissemination of information to EU citizens;
  • improve the provision of information to citizens on their social security rights, whilst developing a new system of electronic exchange of data to reduce delays and difficulties in the exchange of social security.

Citizens as political actors

EU citizens participate less and less in European Parliament elections, which is partly attributed to the lack of information on how the EU can impact their lives. Furthermore, the conditions that a few EU countries impose for nationals of other EU countries living in their territory to vote and stand as candidates in these elections or for founding or becoming members of political parties can pose an obstacle to the exercise of citizens’ voting rights.

To eliminate these obstacles, the Commission will ask EU countries to ensure that:

  • EU citizens’ voting rights in their EU country of residence are fully enforced;
  • EU citizens can be members of or found political parties in their EU country of residence;
  • EU citizens are duly informed of their electoral rights.

Information on EU citizens’ rights

Citizens are familiar with the term “citizen of the EU”, but are often not aware of the precise content of the rights that EU citizenship brings them, and are thus prevented from fully making use of these rights. Even though there is already a wealth of EU-level information and problem-solving networks on citizens’ rights, many citizens either are not aware of these networks or are frustrated because information is distributed among multiple sources and therefore hard to find.

To strengthen citizens’ awareness of their rights as EU citizens and the meaning of these rights in their daily lives, the Commission is taking a series of measures with a view to:

  • further developing the Your Europe web portal into an easy to use one-stop-shop information point on the rights of citizens, accessible via the web and a free phone number;
  • streamlining its information networks in EU countries so that citizens easily find the right contact point at national, regional and local level;
  • designating 2013 as the European Year of Citizens;
  • making it simpler for citizens to use the financial support provided by EU level programmes such as “Europe for Citizens (2007-13)” and “Fundamental rights and citizenship (2007-13)”;
  • strengthening independent, professional and high-quality reporting on European affairs.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee under Article 25 TFEU of 27 October 2010 on progress towards effective EU Citizenship 2007-2010 [COM(2010) 602 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission of 27 October on the election of Members of the European Parliament (1976 Act as amended by Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom) and on the participation of European Union citizens in the elections for the European Parliament in the Member State of residence (Directive 93/109/EC) [COM(2010) 605 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

1) Objective

To launch a wide debate on how the European Union could promote corporate social responsibility on a European and International level, in particular, on how to make the most of existing experiences, to encourage the development of innovative practices, to bring greater transparency and to increase reliability in evaluating and validating the various initiatives undertaken in Europe.

2) Document or Iniciative

Green Paper – Promoting a European framework for Corporate Social Responsibility [COM(2001) 366 – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

Background

Corporate social responsibility can make a positive contribution to the strategic goal decided by the Lisbon European Council: “to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”. A European approach to corporate social responsibility forms part of the broader context of various international initiatives, such as the United Nations Global Compact (2000), the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (1997-2000), or the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2000). While these initiatives are not legally binding, the European Commission is committed to the active promotion of the OECD guidelines. Observance of the core ILO labour standards (freedom of association, abolition of forced labour, non-discrimination and elimination of child labour) is central to corporate social responsibility.

Corporate social responsibility

Being socially responsible means not only fulfilling the applicable legal obligations, but also going beyond compliance and investing “more” into human capital, the environment and relations with stakeholders. The experience with investment in environmentally responsible technologies and business practices suggests that in going beyond legal compliance companies can increase competitiveness and it can have a direct impact on productivity.

Corporate social responsibility should nevertheless not be seen as a substitute to regulation or legislation concerning social rights or environmental standards, including the development of appropriate new legislation. In countries where such regulations do not exist, efforts should focus on putting the proper regulatory or legislative framework in place in order to define a level playing field on the basis of which socially responsible practices can be developed.

Whilst corporate social responsibility is so far mainly promoted by large or multinational companies, it is relevant in all types of companies and in all sectors of activity, from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to multinationals. Certain SMEs already assume their social responsibility, particularly through community involvement. Worker cooperatives and participation schemes, as well as other forms of cooperative, mutual and associative enterprises structurally integrate other stakeholder interests and take up spontaneous social and civil responsibilities.

Corporate social responsibility: the internal and external dimensions

Under increasing pressure from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), consumer groups and now also investors, companies and sectors are increasingly adopting codes of conduct covering working conditions, human rights and environmental aspects, in particular those of their subcontractors and suppliers. Surveys have shown that consumers not only want to buy good and safe products, but they also want to know if they are produced in a socially responsible manner. In recent years, investors have seen socially responsible investing (SRI) in the social domain and investment in environmental protection as a good indication of sound internal and external management. Socially responsible practices can thus help open the way to reconciling social development with improved competitiveness.

Within the company, socially responsible practices primarily involve investment in human capital, health and safety, and managing change. They also cover environmentally responsible practices relating to the management of the natural resources used in production. In addition to these internal aspects, companies also contribute externally to their local communities, by providing jobs, wages, services and tax revenues. On the other hand companies depend on the health, stability, and prosperity of the communities in which they operate. In this sense, corporate social responsibility involves a wide range of stakeholders: business partners and suppliers, customers, public authorities and NGOs representing local communities, as well as the environment.

In a world of multinational investment and global supply chains, corporate social responsibility must also extend beyond the borders of Europe. One of the external dimensions to corporate social responsibility is that of human rights, particularly in relation to global production activities. Despite the existence of international instruments such as the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, human rights remain a very complex issue presenting political, legal and moral dilemmas.

Integrated management of social responsibility

Companies’ approaches in dealing with their responsibilities and relationships with their different stakeholders vary according to sectoral and cultural differences. In general, companies tend to adopt a mission statement, code of conduct, or credo where they state their purpose, core values, and responsibilities towards their stakeholders. These values are then translated into action across the organisation, adding a social or environmental dimension to their plans and budgets in order to carry out social or environmental audits and set up continuing education programmes.

Many multinational companies are now issuing social responsibility reports. While environmental, health, and safety reports are common, reports tackling issues such as human rights or child labour are not. In order for these reports to be useful, a global consensus needs to evolve on the type of information to be disclosed, the reporting format to be used, and the reliability of the evaluation and audit procedures.

The Green Paper invites public authorities at all levels, including international organisations, enterprises from SMEs to multinationals, social partners, NGOs, other stakeholders and all interested individuals to express their views on how to build a partnership for the development of a new framework for the promotion of corporate social responsibility, taking account of the interests of both business and the various stakeholders. Enterprises need to work together with public authorities to find innovative ways of developing corporate social responsibility.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work