Tag Archives: Social security

Pensions Committee

Pensions Committee

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Pensions Committee

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Employment and social policy > Social protection

Pensions Committee

Document or Iniciative

Commission Decision 2001/548/EC of 9 July 2001 on the setting-up of a committee in the area of supplementary pensions [See amending acts].

Summary

Following the approval of the Social Policy Agenda (2000-2005),which took up the question of the portability of occupational pension rights, the consultation begun by the Green Paper on supplementary pensions of 10 June 1997 and the communication ” Towards a single market for supplementary pensions “. The latter proposed setting up a single market for supplementary pensions. On 9 July 2001 the Commission set up an advisory committee in the area of supplementary pensions.

The Forum’s remit is to act as a consultative body for the Commission with regard to problems and developments at Community level affecting supplementary pensions. The Pensions Forum assists the Commission in particular in finding solutions to the problems and obstacles associated with cross-border mobility of workers in the area of supplementary pensions. In addition, where appropriate, and on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, the Forum’s technical work may contribute to the activities of other related bodies or committees dealing with social and economic policy.

The Committee has 55 members and is made up of experts from national administrations in the EU and in other countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), social partners represented at European level and bodies involved in the area of supplementary pensions. The Committee may also invite anyone with particular knowledge of a subject included on the agenda of a Committee meeting to attend as an expert.

The members of the Committee, who meet at Commission headquarters, are appointed by the Commission on the basis of nominations from the Member States’ governments, the other countries of the EEA, the social partners and the other bodies on the Committee. Committee members’ term of office is two years and may be renewed.

The work of the Forum on supplementary pensions has confirmed that insufficient portability of supplementary pensions may create significant obstacles to the mobility of workers and therefore to the free movement of persons within the EU. While coordination of social security schemes allows migrant workers to fully preserve their accrued statutory pension rights, measures to improve the portability of supplementary pensions are still in their early stages. The difficulty in this area lies in the variety of supplementary pension schemes available and in the fact that they are often voluntary.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2001/548/EC

9.7.2001

OJ L 196 of 20.7.2001
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1792/2006 1.1.2007 OJ L 362 of 20.12.2006

Related Acts

Commission Communication of 12 September 2003 concerning the second stage of consultation of social partners on measures to improve the portability of occupational pension rights [SEC(2003)916- Not published in the Official Journal].
Following the first stage of consultation of social partners on the portability of occupational pension rights, and in accordance with Article 138(2) of the EC Treaty, the Commission decided to begin a second stage of consultation of European social partners on the possible content of a Community measure to improve the portability of occupational pension rights.

Directive 2003/41/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 June 2003 on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision [Official Journal L 235 of 23.09.2003].
The aim of this Directive is to guarantee the freedom to provide occupational pension services across Europe and the free movement of capital in this sector. The common framework and the cooperation mechanisms created by the Directive will allow for the mutual recognition of pension funds and will therefore greatly widen the scope for cross-border management of occupational pension schemes and cross-border membership.

Commission Communication of 27 May 2002 concerning the first stage consultation of social partners on measures to improve the portability of supplementary pension rights [SEC(2002) 597 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The social partners were asked to give their opinion on the need for and possible direction of a Community action on the portability of occupational pension rights. In particular, the Commission consulted them on the usefulness of Community action in this field and the form such action should take (collective agreement, recommendation, code of practice, etc.).

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee – The elimination of tax obstacles to the cross-border provision of occupational pensions [COM(2001) 214 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In this communication, the Commission called on Member States to eliminate all national tax rules which, by creating discriminatory conditions for occupational pension institutions established in other EU countries, are in breach of the Treaty’s provisions on the free movement of workers and capital, and on the freedom to provide services in the area of supplementary pensions.

Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

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

Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Document or Iniciative

Commission Recommendation 2008/867/EC of 3 October 2008 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market [Official Journal L 307 of 18.11.2008].

Summary

With this Recommendation, the Commission is encouraging Member States to take action for the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market. To this end, the Commission recommends that the Member States draw up and implement an integrated comprehensive strategy. The strategy should be composed of the following three strands:

  • sufficient income support;
  • inclusive labour markets;
  • access to quality services.

The actions should support the employment of those who can work, providing the resources required for a dignified life, and promote the social participation of those who cannot work.

The Member States are further recommended to ensure that the inclusion policies are effective. This should be done by:

  • combining the above three strands of the strategy in an appropriate manner;
  • implementing the strategy in an integrated manner across the three strands;
  • coordinating the policies among authorities at local, regional, national and European Union (EU) level;
  • including all relevant actors in the development, implementation and evaluation of the strategy.

In particular, the inclusion policies should take account of fundamental rights, the promotion of equal opportunities for all, the specific needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and the local and regional contexts. In addition, the inclusion policies should contribute to preventing the intergenerational transmission of poverty.

Furthermore, the Commission recommends that the Member States organise and implement active inclusion policies with the detailed set of common principles and practical guidelines put forward in the document. With regard to:

  • sufficient income support, Member States should recognise and implement the right of individuals to adequate resources and social assistance as part of consistent and comprehensive efforts to fight social exclusion;
  • inclusive labour markets, Member States should provide assistance for those who can work to enter or re-enter and stay in employment that best relates to their capacity to work;
  • access to quality services, Member States should ensure that proper social support is given to those that require it, in order to promote social and economic inclusion.

The Member States are also recommended to ensure that the necessary resources and benefits are provided under the social protection instruments, taking into account the economic and budgetary constraints. Active inclusion measures may also be funded from the Structural Funds. Information about the rights and support measures available to all must be publicised widely, and if possible, through electronic means.

In addition, Member States should simplify administrative procedures. At the same time, access for the public to the appeals systems should be made easier.

Finally, the Commission is also recommending that the Member States take steps to enhance indicators and statistical data on active inclusion policies. The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) on social protection and inclusion should be employed for monitoring and evaluating these policies on the basis of close collaboration between the Social Protection and the Employment Committees and with the support of the activities funded by the Progress programme.

The active inclusion measures should be aligned with the social cohesion objectives of the Lisbon Strategy.

Background

Poverty and social exclusion are addressed, in particular, in the Council Recommendation 92/441/EEC of 24 June 1992 on common criteria concerning sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems. While this Recommendation still applies, additional measures need to be taken to implement it fully. Subsequent instruments include, among others, the OMC on social protection and inclusion and the European employment strategy. Furthermore, the persisting problems, especially in terms of poverty and joblessness, require that social protection systems are modernised and that comprehensive and integrated policies are initiated. These are the objectives of the “active inclusion” approach that complements social assistance benefits with support to enter the labour market and with access to quality services.

Tackling tax obstacles to the cross-border provision of occupational pensions

Tackling tax obstacles to the cross-border provision of occupational pensions

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Tackling tax obstacles to the cross-border provision of occupational pensions

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Internal market > Single market for capital

Tackling tax obstacles to the cross-border provision of occupational pensions

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, to the European Parliament and to the European Economic and Social Committee, of 19 April 2001, entitled, “The elimination of tax obstacles to the cross-border provision of occupational pensions” [COM(2001) 214 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Through this communication the Commission:

  • seeks a coordinated approach adapted to the diversity of Member States’ rules rather than attempting to achieve harmonisation;
  • calls for the elimination of unduly restrictive or discriminatory tax rules;
  • presents measures to safeguard Member States’ tax revenues.

To do this, the Commission proposes to monitor Member States’ national rules in this field and take the necessary steps to ensure their compliance with the EC Treaty, in particular with the rules on non-discrimination. It reserves the right to initiate legal action against any Member State failing to comply with the rules.

The Commission also proposes adopting measures to maintain the tax revenues of Member States for the cross-border provision of pensions. It further proposes a coordinated approach to eliminating the tax obstacles, in particular double taxation, which result from the different taxation systems for occupational pensions in the Member States.

Application of the EC Treaty rules

The Commission notes that the EC Treaty rules on the free movement of capital, labour and services must be applied in the area of cross-border pension provision. Member States are consequently required to eliminate all discrimination against occupational schemes established in other Member States.

Discrimination means privileged treatment of domestic schemes, in particular more favourable rules on deductibility of contributions or taxation of benefits.

The Commission accordingly intends to examine the compliance of the relevant national rules with the fundamental freedoms of the EC Treaty and, where necessary, to bring cases before the Court of Justice so as to allow the emergence of a fully functioning single market for occupational pensions.

Exchange of information

A Community legislative framework for information exchange already exists, in particular under the Directive on mutual assistance between Member States in the field of direct taxation. In the interests of better coordination between Member States on the collection of taxes applicable to cross-border pensions, the Commission recommends that Member States agree on an automatic exchange of information on occupational pensions.

The Council has already decided upon the principle of automatic information exchange in the area of taxation of savings income. The extension of that principle to pensions will help prevent distortions by ensuring the same level of information exchange for comparable products.

Mismatch of tax systems

Different Member States have different rules in terms of whether they tax or exempt pension contributions, investment income and capital gains of the pension institution, and pension benefits. These differences can create problems where employees spend their working careers in one Member State but retire to another. Pensions are sometimes taxed, for example, even though the contributions are not tax deductible or the pension is not taxed even though the contributions are deductible.

Concerning problems of double taxation and non-taxation arising from the mismatch of tax systems, the Commission recommends wider application of the “EET system” (Exempt contributions, Exempt investment income and capital gains of the pension institution, Taxed benefits) already applied in eleven Member States, entailing the deductibility of pension contributions and investment income coupled with the taxation of benefits, together with better coordination of Member States’ taxation rules.

The Commission acknowledges that completely uniform rules for occupational pensions will not be easy to achieve while the reliance on social security and occupational pension schemes varies so significantly from one Member State to another.

The Commission therefore explores how double taxation and double non-taxation problems can be addressed by better coordination of Member States’ taxation rules.

Solutions could include unilateral tax relief, bilateral agreements or a multilateral convention or coordinating measures at European Union level.

Background

Pensions are an issue of universal concern: for individual citizens who want adequate provision for their retirement; for employers who seek cost-effective pension provision for their employees and for governments who, throughout the Union, are seeking to maintain adequate pension provision in the face of ageing populations.

The potential benefits of better cross-border pension provision are substantial. At present citizens who take up employment or residence outside their home State are often unable to remain in their existing occupational pension schemes. The number of European citizens aged 15 years and over residing in a Member State other than their Member State of origin is increasing, and enlargement of the Union will contribute further to this trend. Impediments to cross-border pension provision may also prevent European businesses from choosing the most efficient way of providing pensions for their employees by centralising their pension provision.

At the Stockholm European Council of 23 and 24 March 2001, as part of the new strategy to open up pan-European labour markets, the Commission promised an initiative in the tax field to complement the Directive on occupational retirement provision that would facilitate cross-border pension provision and investment.

 

Safeguarding supplementary pension rights

Safeguarding supplementary pension rights

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Safeguarding supplementary pension rights

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Employment and social policy > Social protection

Safeguarding supplementary pension rights

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 98/49/EC of 29 June 1998 on safeguarding the supplementary pension rights of employed and self-employed persons moving within the Community.

Summary

This Directive applies to members of supplementary pension schemes and others holding entitlement under such schemes who have acquired or are in the process of acquiring rights in one or more Member States.

This Directive provides for four main measures to safeguard the supplementary pension rights of workers moving within the Community:

Equality of treatment as regards preservation of pension rights

Member States must, for persons who have left a supplementary pension scheme as a consequence of going to work in another Member State, take the necessary measures to ensure the preservation of vested pension rights to the same extent as for persons in respect of whom contributions are no longer being made but who remain within the same Member State.

Cross-border payments

Member States shall ensure that supplementary pension schemes make payment in other Member States, net of any taxes and transaction charges, of all benefits due under these supplementary schemes.

Posted workers and supplementary pensions

Posted workers have the option of remaining within the pension scheme in their country of origin during the period of posting in another Member State. Posted workers and, where applicable, their employers are thus exempted from any obligation to make contributions to a supplementary pension scheme in another Member State.

Information to scheme members

Employers, trustees or others responsible for the management of supplementary pension schemes shall provide adequate information to scheme members, when they move to another Member State, as to their pension rights and the choices which are available to them under the scheme.

Background

While coordination of social security schemes allows migrant workers to fully preserve their accrued statutory pension rights, the portability of supplementary pensions (both occupational schemes and group insurance contracts) still needs to be improved.

In a Communication in 1991, the Commission opened the debate on supplementary pensions and gave a high-level group the task of identifying obstacles to the free movement of workers. The group concluded that legislative measures were needed but that these should be restricted to the following three areas:

  • preservation of vested rights;
  • cross-border payments;
  • easier access for posted workers.

The Commission continued the discussions with all bodies involved in relation to the Green Paper on supplementary pensions published in June 1997 and confirmed the need for an act covering the aspects set out in this Directive.

Key terms used in the act
  • ‘Supplementary pension’ means retirement pensions and, where provided for by the rules of a supplementary pension scheme established in conformity with national legislation and practice, invalidity and survivors’ benefits, intended to supplement or replace those provided in respect of the same contingencies by statutory social security schemes.
  • ‘Supplementary pension scheme’ means any occupational pension scheme established in conformity with national legislation and practice such as a group insurance contract or pay-as-you-go scheme agreed by one or more branches or sectors, funded scheme or pension promise backed by book reserves, or any collective or other comparable arrangement intended to provide a supplementary pension for employed or self-employed persons.

References

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

Directive 98/49/EC

25.7.1998

25.1.2002
25.5.2001 Article 6

OJ L 209 of 25.7.1998

Related Acts

Green Paper of 7 July 2010 towards adequate, sustainable and safe European pension systems [COM(2010) 365 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Amended proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on minimum requirements for enhancing worker mobility by improving the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights [COM(2007) 603 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Achieving the full benefits and potential of free movement of workers

Achieving the full benefits and potential of free movement of workers

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Achieving the full benefits and potential of free movement of workers

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Internal market > Living and working in the internal market

Achieving the full benefits and potential of free movement of workers

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 11 December 2002 – Free movement of workers: achieving the full benefits and potential [COM(2002) 694 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Citizens who exercise their right to free movement of workers * within the European Union, which is a fundamental freedom under Community law, are contributing to the creation of a genuine European labour market.

However, practical, administrative and legal obstacles remain, preventing workers from taking full advantage of the benefits and potential of geographical mobility.

In this Communication, the Commission outlines the current state of Community law on the free movement of workers, with a view to clarifying its complex, technical legislative framework and the considerable case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in this area. It identifies a number of recurring difficulties in four distinct but interrelated areas.

Free movement of workers

Any national of a Member State has the right to work in another Member State.

Community law on free movement of workers applies whenever a national of an EU Member State exercises his right to mobility, even if he has returned to his Member State of origin after exercising his right to free movement of workers.

The family members * of an EU citizen who is a migrant worker, irrespective of their nationality – i.e. including third country nationals – are entitled to reside with him. In addition, children of migrant workers are entitled to access to education in the host Member State, irrespective of their nationality.

The right of residence is an integral part of free movement of workers. Under current Community law, Member States must issue a residence permit to a migrant worker on the basis of his identity card or passport and proof of employment alone. Under no circumstances may an EU citizen’s access to employment be made conditional upon obtaining a residence permit.

It follows from the Community principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of nationality that migrant workers must be treated in the same way as national workers with regard to access to employment, conditions of employment and work and social and fiscal advantages.

On occasion, access to employment may be conditional upon linguistic requirements, provided they are reasonable and justified. Moreover, while a very good command of a particular language may be justifiable for certain jobs, a requirement for that language to be the worker’s mother tongue is not acceptable.

Under the system of mutual recognition of qualifications, a Community citizen who is fully qualified in one Member State is entitled to exercise a regulated profession * in another Member State. Depending on the activity in question and the training completed, recognition will be either automatic or preceded by a period of adaptation or an aptitude test.

Social security

To facilitate the exercise of the right to free movement, migrant Community nationals must not suffer disadvantages in their social security rights.

Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 establishes a system for coordinating social security systems. It lays down common rules aimed at ensuring that the various national social security systems are not applied in such a way that they discriminate against persons who are exercising their right to free movement. Community law has never sought to harmonise the field of social security, and the Member States have therefore retained their competences with regard to the organisation of their respective social security systems.

As a general rule, social security benefits are paid regardless of the beneficiary’s Member State of residence. Special non-contributory benefits represent an exception to this rule. These benefits are paid only in the Member States in which such benefits are provided. As a result, they cannot be exported, but a migrant EU citizen is entitled to the benefits provided by the host Member State. To satisfy the conditions for non-exportability, a benefit must be special and non-contributory. The ECJ has ruled that a benefit is special when it is closely linked to the social environment of the Member State in question (benefits related to the prevention of poverty or to care for the disabled).

Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 also lays down the conditions for access to health care for people moving within the European Union. Depending on personal status and/or type of stay, EU citizens are entitled to immediately necessary care, to care which becomes necessary, or to all sickness benefits in kind in a Member State other than the one in which they are insured against sickness as if they were insured there, but at the expense of the institution of insurance. For persons wishing to go to another Member State specifically to obtain treatment, the costs of such treatment will, under the co-ordination system set up by Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71, only be covered by the Member State in which they are insured if they received prior authorisation. However, the Court has held that, in the light of other fundamental freedoms, such as the free movement of goods and the freedom to provide services, such prior authorisation, if not justified, could be regarded as an infringement of these fundamental freedoms. It follows that, under certain conditions, patients may apply for reimbursement of medical costs incurred in connection with health care received in another Member State, even in the absence of prior authorisation.

Finally, determination of the Member State whose social security legislation is applicable is based on two basic principles: a person is subject to the legislation of only one Member State at a time and is normally covered by the legislation of the Member State where he or she engages in occupational activity.

The complex nature of Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 does, however, make it difficult to apply. For this reason, it is currently being revised.

Frontier workers

As they divide their time between two Member States, frontier workers * are often faced with practical problems related not only to social security and social advantages but also to income taxation and retirement. In principle, frontier workers enjoy all the benefits available to migrant workers in the Member State of employment, but some Member States impose residence conditions for entitlement to social advantages. Frontier workers are entitled to unemployment benefit in the Member State of residence rather than the Member State of employment. They may choose the Member State in which to obtain health care, but when they retire, this choice between Member State of employment and Member State of residence disappears.

Context

The legal texts which form the basis for the free movement of workers date back to the 1960s. They have since been supplemented by the Community institutions and, in particular, the case law of the ECJ.

Key terms used in the act
  • Worker: a person who undertakes genuine work under the direction of someone else, for which he is paid.
  • Family members: the spouse of the worker, his/her descendants who are under the age of 21 or are dependant, and dependant relatives in the ascending line. The term “spouse” means married partner and does not cover cohabiting partners.
  • Regulated profession: a profession that cannot be practised without certain specified vocational qualifications
  • Frontier worker: a person who lives in one Member State and works in another.

Related Acts

Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States amending Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 and repealing Directives 64/221/EEC, 68/360/EEC, 72/194/EEC, 73/148/EEC, 75/34/EEC, 75/35/EEC, 90/364/EEC, 90/365/EEC and 93/96/EEC . [Official Journal L 158 of 30.04.2004].

This Directive is a partial response to some of the problems raised in the Communication. It makes the framework of legislation on freedom of movement for workers, which is both technical and complex, more accessible by combining into a single instrument provisions that are currently scattered among several different directives. It also provides a more precise definition of the concept of family member of a Union citizen and simplifies the formalities involved in exercising the right of stay.

Cross-border healthcare: patients’ rights

Cross-border healthcare: patients’ rights

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Cross-border healthcare: patients’ rights

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

Public health > European health strategy

Cross-border healthcare: patients’ rights

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2011/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2011 on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare.

Summary

This Directive makes provision for the introduction of a general framework to:

  • clarify patients’ rights with regard to accessing cross-border healthcare provision *;
  • guarantee the safety, quality and efficiency of care that they will receive in another EU Member State;
  • promote cooperation between Member State on healthcare matters.

This Directive does not concern:

  • long-term care services;
  • public vaccination programmes.

Member States’ responsibilities

Each Member State shall designate one or several national contact points for cross-border healthcare. These contact points shall consult with patient associations, healthcare providers and healthcare insurers. They are responsible for providing patients with information on their rights when they decide to take advantage of cross-border healthcare and with the contact details of the other contact points in the other Member States.

The Member State of treatment
* organises and provides the healthcare. They are responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of the healthcare provided, in particular by implementing control mechanisms. They also ensure the protection of personal data and equal treatment for patients who are not nationals of their country. The national contact point in the Member State of treatment shall provide patients with the necessary information.

Following the provision of care, it is the Member State of affiliation
* who takes care of the reimbursement of the insured person on the condition that the treatment received is provided for under reimbursable care in their national legislation.

Procedures for reimbursing cross-border care

The Member State of affiliation shall ensure that the costs incurred by an insured person who receives cross-border care shall be reimbursed, on the condition that the person has the right to the type of care received. The amount of the reimbursement is equivalent to the amount which could have been reimbursed by the statutory social security system if the care was provided in their country. It must not exceed the actual costs of the care.

The Member State of affiliation may reimburse related costs, such as accommodation and travel costs.

An insured person may also receive reimbursement for services provided through the means of telemedicine.

With regard to certain cross-border healthcare *, the State of affiliation can implement a system of prior authorisation in order to avoid the risk of undermining the planning and/or financing of their health system. It must provide this authorisation automatically if the patient has the right to the healthcare in question and when this healthcare cannot be provided on its territory within a time limit which is medically justifiable. However, the State of affiliation may refuse to grant prior authorisation to a patient in very specific cases (as detailed in the Directive *).

If a patient requests prior authorisation and the conditions are met, authorisation must be granted in accordance with the Regulation relating to the coordination of social security systems, except if the patient requests to be treated under the framework of this Directive.

Administrative procedures relating to the provision of healthcare must be necessary and proportional. They should be implemented in a transparent manner, within fixed deadlines and based on objective and non-discriminatory criteria. When processing a request for cross-border healthcare, Member States must take into account the patient’s medical condition and the urgency of the specific circumstances.

Cooperation on healthcare

Member States will cooperate on the implementation of the Directive. In particular, they will support the creation of European reference networks of healthcare providers, which aim to facilitate the mobility of expertise and access to highly specialised care through the concentration and joining up of available resources and expertise.

Member States shall recognise the validity of medical prescriptions issued in other Member States if those medicines are authorised in their country. Measures must be taken to help health professionals mutually recognise and verify the authenticity of prescriptions.

Member States are also encouraged to cooperate in the treatment of rare diseases through the development of diagnostic and treatments methods. The Orphanet database and European networks can be used in this respect.

E-health systems or services also enable the provision of cross-border care. This Directive provides for the establishment of a network of national authorities responsible for ‘e-health’ with the aim of improving the continuity of care and guaranteeing access to high quality healthcare.

Lastly, the creation of a network of authorities or bodies responsible for evaluating health technologies will facilitate cooperation between the national competent authorities in this field.

Context

This Directive is in line with the Court of Justice jurisprudence following the Kohll and Decker judgement delivered on 28 April 1998 and which established the right of patients to be reimbursed for medical treatment in a Member State other than their own. It does not bring into question the Regulation principles on the coordination of social security systems, in particular the principles regarding equality between resident and non-resident patients of a Member State and the European Health Insurance Card.

Key terms of the act
  • Cross-border healthcare: healthcare provided or prescribed in a Member State other than the Member State of affiliation.
  • Member State of affiliation: the Member State where the patient is an insured person.
  • Member State of treatment: the Member State on whose territory cross-border healthcare is actually provided.
  • Care that may be subject to prior authorisation: 1. Care which is subject to planning and requires: (a) either overnight hospital accommodation of at least one night, or (b) that requires the use of highly specialised and cost-intensive medical infrastructure or medical equipment; 2. involves treatments presenting a particular risk for the patient or the population; 3. is provided by a healthcare provider that could give rise to serious and specific concerns relating to the quality or safety of the care.
  • Reasons for refusal to grant authorisation: 1. In the case of patient-safety risk; 2. In the case of a safety risk to the general public; 3. When there are serious and specific concerns relating to the healthcare provider regarding the respect of standards on quality of care and patient safety; 4. when this healthcare can be provided on its territory within a time limit which is medically justifiable.

Reference

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

Directive 2011/24/EU

24.4.2011

25.10.2013

OJ L 88, 4.4.2011

Agenda for jobs and workers’ skills

Agenda for jobs and workers’ skills

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Agenda for jobs and workers’ skills

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 > European Strategy for Growth

Agenda for jobs and workers’ skills

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 23 November 2010 – An agenda for new skills and jobs: A European contribution towards full employment [COM(2010) 682 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission establishes a flagship initiative in the area of participation in labour markets and vocational skills. In the context of the Europe 2020 strategy this initiative contributes to the joint efforts of the Member States aimed at increasing by 75 % the employment rate of women and men for the 20-64 years age group by 2020.

It is essential to meet this target in order to ensure the sustainability of the welfare systems, economic growth and public finances of EU countries.

Improving the functioning of labour markets

The effective implementation of the common principles of flexicurity contributes to the proper functioning of labour markets and the reduction of structural unemployment. The principles of flexicurity must be strengthened in order to reduce divisions in labour markets and to support their transition.

To this end, this initiative favours:

  • a joint approach by EU institutions, Member States and social partners, to strengthen policy and establish principles of flexicurity;
  • the development of workers’ skills throughout their working life, in particular by means of adapted financing;
  • social partners’ participation at European level.

In addition, the Commission proposes to involve all stakeholders in order to monitor and manage flexicurity, particularly public and private employment and training services and civil society organisations.

Upgrading workers’ skills

Workers’ skills must be adapted to the changes in European society, particularly in the sectors of innovation, new technologies, the environment and health. Education and training systems must respond to these changes, cooperating with business and developing work-based learning.

In this context, the European Commission recommends a series of key actions:

  • creating an online skills Panorama, presenting changes in, and the needs of, the EU labour market;
  • establishing the European Skills, Competences and Occupations classification (ESCO);
  • reforming systems for the recognition of professional qualifications;
  • launching an Agenda for Integration of third country nationals, to valorise their skills and training;
  • encouraging geographical mobility, by improving the enforcement of the principle of free movement of workers in the EU.

These actions must be accompanied by an assessment of school curricula, the employability of students and the development of some professional sectors, as well as support for informal learning.

Improving the quality of work and working conditions

The quality of working conditions enables workers’ potential to be developed and business competitiveness to be enhanced.

The Commission therefore proposes to re-examine in particular:

  • European legislation on employment, health and social security, and information and consultation of workers;
  • the 2007-2012 health and safety strategy, so as to propose a follow-up strategy for the period 2013-2020.

The joint action taken by the Commission, Member States and social partners should support the fight against undeclared work and discrimination in the world of work.

Fostering job creation

National and European employment policies should take into account business needs. Such policies should be accompanied by measures to support entrepreneurship and the creation of innovative firms.

In order to create a job-friendly environment, the Commission proposes to adopt guiding principles to simplify administrative and legal procedures for hiring and firing, business creation and self-employment, to reduce non-wage labour costs, and combat informal or undeclared work.

Furthermore, measures should be adapted to support business creation and management, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that represent 99 % of European firms.

Gender equality in the labour market

Gender equality in the labour market

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Gender equality in the labour market

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

Gender equality in the labour market

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast) [Official Journal L 204 of 26.7.2006].

Summary

Equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of European law which applies to all aspects of life in society, including to the world of work.

Equality in employment and working conditions

This Directive prohibits direct or indirect discrimination * between men and women concerning the conditions of:

  • recruitment, access to employment and self-employment;
  • dismissals;
  • vocational training and promotion;
  • membership of workers’ or employers’ organisations.

In addition, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (Article 157) prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex on matters of pay for the same work or work of equal value. This principle also applies to job classification systems used for determining pay.

However, different treatment for men and women may be justified by reason of the nature of the particular occupational activity, if the measures taken are legitimate and proportionate.

Member States shall encourage employers and vocational trainers to act against discrimination on grounds of sex, and particularly against harassment and sexual harassment *.

Equality in social protection

Women and men are treated equally under occupational social security schemes, particularly concerning:

  • the scope and conditions of access to the schemes;
  • the contributions;
  • the calculation of benefits, including supplementary benefits, and the conditions governing the duration and retention of entitlement.

This principle applies to the whole working population, including:

  • self-employed workers, however for this category Member States may provide for different treatment, in particular concerning the age of retirement;
  • workers whose activity is interrupted by illness, maternity, accident or involuntary unemployment;
  • persons seeking employment, retired and disabled workers, and those claiming under them.

Parental leave

At the end of maternal, paternal or adoption leave, employees have the right to:

  • return to their jobs or to equivalent posts on conditions which are no less favourable to them;
  • benefit from any improvement in working conditions to which they would have been entitled during their absence.

Defence of rights

Member States must put in place remedies for employees who have been victims of discrimination, such as conciliation and judicial procedures. In addition, they shall take the necessary measures to protect employees and their representatives against adverse treatment as a reaction to a complaint within the undertaking or to any legal proceedings.

Lastly, they shall establish penalties and reparation or compensation possibilities in relation to the damage sustained.

In the case of legal proceedings, the burden of proof is on the party accused of discrimination who must prove that there has been no breach of the principle of equal treatment.

Promoting equal treatment

Member States appoint bodies whose role it is to promote, analyse and monitor equal treatment, to ensure that the legislation is followed and also to provide support to victims of discrimination.

In addition, enterprises must promote the principle of gender equality and strengthen the role of social partners and non-governmental organisations.

Key terms of the Act
  • Direct discrimination: where one person is treated less favourably on grounds of sex than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation.
  • Indirect discrimination: where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons of one sex at a particular disadvantage compared with persons of the other sex, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
  • Harassment: where unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
  • Sexual harassment: where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

References

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

Directive 2006/54/EC

15.8.2006

15.8.2008

OJ L 204, 26.7.7

Self-employed workers: equal treatment between men and women

Self-employed workers: equal treatment between men and women

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Self-employed workers: equal treatment between men and women

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

Self-employed workers: equal treatment between men and women

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2010/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity and repealing Council Directive 86/613/EEC.

Summary

The principle of equal treatment between men and women prohibits all forms of discrimination based on sex, whether direct * or indirect * discrimination. This principle must be complied with when establishing, equipping or extending a business, as well as when launching or extending any other form of self-employed activity.

Harassment * and sexual harassment * are deemed to be discrimination on grounds of sex.

This Directive enables European Union (EU) countries to adopt positive action measures. Such public measures are aimed at ensuring full equality between men and women in working life, for example by promoting business creation by women.

Couples with a joint business

In this area, the principle of equal treatment between men and women means that spouses or life partners who establish a business together, shall be treated under the same conditions as other persons.

In addition, where a national social protection system exists for self-employed workers, the spouses or life partners who participate in the activities of the self-employed worker have the right to social protection in their own name. Member States may decide whether the social protection is implemented on a mandatory or voluntary basis.

Maternity rights

Self-employed women, and female spouses or life partners who contribute to the activity of self-employed workers shall be entitled to a maternity allowance for at least 14 weeks. This allowance shall be sufficient to enable them to interrupt their activities if they wish to do so. This allocation shall therefore be equivalent to:

  • the average loss of income or profit. This amount may however be subject to a ceiling limit; and/or
  • the allowance provided at national level in the event of an interruption in activities on health grounds; and/or
  • any other family-related allowance provided for and determined by the EU country.

During the interruption in their activities due to maternity, women shall have access to replacement services and national social services. The provision of these services may replace all or a part of the maternity allowance.

Context

The former Directive 86/613/EEC shall be repealed on 5 August 2012. The current Directive shall have been transposed in all EU countries by this date.

Other directives protect the equal treatment of self-employed workers, such as Directive 2006/54/EC applicable to working life, Directive 79/7/EEC applicable to social security matters and Directive 2004/113/EC which covers access to private/public goods and services.

Key terms
  • Self-employed workers: all persons pursuing a gainful activity for their own account, under the conditions laid down by national law, including farmers and the professions.
  • Spouses of self-employed workers or, when and in so far as recognised by national law, the life partners of self-employed workers, not being employees or business partners, where they habitually, under the conditions laid down by national law, participate in the activities of the self-employed worker and perform the same tasks or ancillary tasks.
  • Direct discrimination: where one person is treated less favourably on grounds of sex.
  • Indirect discrimination: where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons of one sex at a particular disadvantage. Unless the difference in treatment is objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
  • Harassment: where unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person occurs with the purpose, or effect, of violating the dignity of that person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
  • Sexual harassment: where unwanted verbal, non-verbal, or physical, conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

References

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

Directive 2010/41/EU

4.8.2010

5.8.2012

OJ L 180 of 15.7.2010

Roadmap for equality between women and men

Roadmap for equality between women and men

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Roadmap for equality between women and men

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

Roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-2010)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – A Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006-2010 [COM(2006) 92 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The current roadmap outlines six priority areas. For each area, it identifies key objectives and actions which should facilitate their implementation. Despite the significant progress made through equal treatment legislation and the social dialogue, the European Union (EU) still faces considerable challenges.

Equal economic independence for women and men

  • Some of the Lisbon targets relate to the gender dimension, but the efforts made to achieve them must be strengthened, particularly as regards employment and unemployment rates for women.
  • Despite existing Community legislation, a 15% pay gap persists between women. This gap arises from structural inequalities in the labour market and direct discriminations.
  • Women constitute, on average, 30% of entrepreneurs in the EU. They often face greater difficulties than men in accessing finance and training.
  • The risk of poverty is greater for women than for men, as they are more likely to have interrupted careers and, therefore, fewer individual pension rights. Social protection systems should offer them adequate benefits.
  • Women and men are confronted with different health risks. Medical research, statistics and safety and health indicators relate in the majority to men and male-dominated work areas.
  • The EU is committed to combating the double discrimination immigrant women and those from ethnic minorities are subject to.

The reconciliation of private and professional life

  • Flexible working arrangements offer advantages both for employees and employers. However, women have recourse to the arrangements of reconciliation policies more often, which could have a negative impact on their professional position and their economic independence.
  • The EU faces a demographic decline and an ageing population, which has effects on the labour market. It is essential that access to childcare facilities and a work-life balance are made easier, and that the provision of services to the elderly is improved.
  • Measures which encourage men to take parental leave or to work part-time should be encouraged.

Equal representation in decision-making

  • Women’s persistent under-representation in civil society, politics and senior management in public administration is a democratic deficit.
  • The representation of women in economic decision-making can contribute to innovative and productive work, in particular in relation to flexible working and transparency in promotion processes.
  • Member States have set a target of 25% women in leading positions in the field of public sector research.

The eradication of all forms of gender-based violence

  • The EU combats violations of fundamental rights to life, safety, freedom, dignity and physical and emotional integrity. The EU leads actions against customary practices which violate these rights.
  • The Commission suggests criminalising the trafficking of women and at the same time discouraging the demand for human beings for sexual exploitation. The new Directive on residence permits for victims of trafficking should, in particular, enable their reintegration into the labour market.

The elimination of gender stereotypes

  • Education, training and culture should enable women to explore non-traditional educational paths and valued professional fields.
  • Women are generally employed in sectors that are less valued, and they generally occupy the lower echelons of the organisational hierarchy.
  • The media continue to convey gender stereotypes. It is essential that a regular dialogue takes place between the authorities and the stakeholders involved.

The promotion of gender equality in third countries

  • Under the framework of the enlargement process, accession, candidate or potential candidate countries are committed to transposing the Community acquis in terms of gender equality.
  • Equality between men and women has its own separate objective in the European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as in external and development policies.
  • The EU promotes internationally recognised principles such as the Millennium Development Declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA).

Key actions

The Commission will modernise the existing EU gender equality legislation. A 2006 recast of the legislation was carried out regarding opportunities and treatment. The Commission will ensure that the aspect of gender equality is incorporated as far as possible into all policies, such as the integrated guidelines for growth and jobs and in the new streamlined open method of coordination that covers pensions, social inclusion, health and long-term care.

Raising awareness is the main way of eliminating gender stereotypes. One action the Commission hopes to take is to develop dialogue with EU citizens through the plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate and the “Your Europe” portal.

The need for better statistics has arisen in most fields. New indicators and a new composite Gender Equality Index should make it easier to compare data at EU level. Statistics broken down by sex are also important.

More research is required on the gender dimension in health and on health and social sectors professions. Work will continue on the European database on women and men in decision-making. TheFramework Programme for Research and Technological Development may be used as an instrument to finance specific research.

At international level, the Beijing Platform, which is backed by the Commission, makes provision for better data collection capacity on gender mainstreaming in developing countries.

Financing

A new European Institute for Gender Equality, with EUR 50 million of funding, should play a key role in monitoring most of the above actions.

The PROGRESS programme finances action with a transversal dimension, given that gender equality is an aspect that is common to a number of policies. For this reason, the Commission should explore the possibilities of integrating and assessing the impact of the gender perspective in budgeting at EU level.

The Structural Funds are a major source of funding. The Structural Funds will also help achieve the Barcelona targets on childcare and the development of health care facilities.
The European Social Fund (ESF) plays a role in integrating women into the labour market, as well as in the integration of women from third countries into the EU, and in the elimination of stereotypes.

Context

A number of events should offer the opportunity to drive the gender equality agenda forward, in particular the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All in 2007 and the European Year of Combating Exclusion and Poverty in 2010, as well as the 2006 Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on gender equality.

The Commission must establish an EU network of women in economic and political decision-making positions, and a network of gender equality bodies. It works closely with NGOs and the social partners.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Mid-term progress report on the roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-2010) [COM(2008) 760 – Not published in the Official Journal].
This is a mid-term progress report on the results achieved since the adoption of the roadmap for 2006-2010. It was implemented through two annual work programmes and its objectives were strengthened in 2007 with the adoption of the European Pact for Gender Equality. The PROGRESS Programme has financed the transversal implementation of the roadmap in other policies, as well as communication actions.
The principal advances in terms of equality have been made in those domains which have been the focus of quantified objectives, common to Member States. Thus nearly all the domains affected by the roadmap have made progress. However, progress in the Member States is uneven and efforts are required to meet the objectives fixed for 2010. The Report makes a number of proposals in this respect:

  • improve governance, the Commission considers it necessary to bring together the commitment of all the stakeholders involved and to lead an evaluation of national and Community legislation, EU programmes and its budgetary procedures in order to better incorporate the principal of equality. International and European indicators should be improved, as well as the comparability of harmonised statistical data. It is essential that the European Institute for Gender Equality becomes operational in order to achieve the objectives of the roadmap;
  • increase awareness of social and economic challenges, in particular through the Lisbon Strategy, the renewed Social Agenda and the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in the field of social protection and social inclusion. Cohesion policies, education and research should be evaluated. Gender equality should be improved in decision-making, political and economic bodies, as well as in the media.

The final evaluation of the impact of these actions will be presented in 2010.