Declaration on welfare benefits in the social and health area in the Nordic countries and interaction with the EU rules and with Regulation 883/2004

09.09.15 | Declaration
At its meeting in Copenhagen on 9 September 2015, the Nordic Council of Ministers for Health and Social Affairs (MR-S) discussed the question of welfare benefits in the Nordic countries and how they interact with current EU rules, particularly Regulation (EC) no. 883/2004.

Information

Regulation 883/2004 is an important tool that supports freedom of movement for migrant workers in Europe and the Nordic Region. It is important that the rules in the Regulation ensure future sustainability and it is therefore necessary that they are developed and modernised so that they reflect European society today.

The Nordic countries are a part of Europe, where all 32 EU/EEA countries have different systems of social security and welfare benefits. To ensure the future sustainability of the EU’s rules regarding co-ordination, it is important to observe the different systems in all of the countries, including the Nordic systems.

We, the Nordic ministers for health and social affairs, wish to stress that, in all of the Nordic countries, social security benefits are a central part of the Nordic welfare model and, therefore, an area that is highly prioritised politically. In each of the Nordic countries, the social security systems are built up differently, however there are many similarities that make it relevant to talk about social security benefits in a joint Nordic perspective.

Gender equality is an important part of the social security systems in the Nordic countries that helps to support access to freedom of movement. Many Nordic citizens move to other Nordic countries or to other EU/EEA countries and it is therefore important that the future co-ordination systems in the EU also promote Nordic interests hence the great importance that the EU rules on social security coordination also reflect the Nordic welfare systems.

The European Commission has announced a “Labour Mobility Package”, which envisages a revision of Regulation 883/2004. We welcome this revision. Specifically with regard to the co-ordination rules for social security, it is of great importance that a revision reflects the social, economic and geographic changes that the EU has undergone since the rules were established.

With this declaration, the Nordic countries wish to establish a continuing exchange of opinions within the EU regarding social security benefits and the co-ordination of social security. The countries will continue to discuss initiatives that can accommodate the need for social security in the Nordic countries in the future, and to evaluate and indicate ways in which the EU Regulation can be revised and maintained to make it modern, balanced and sustainable for the future.

At their meeting on 9 September 2015, the Nordic ministers had a good, constructive discussion and exchange of opinions, and they look forward to strengthened co-operation not only in the Nordic countries but also in close co-operation with the other Member States and the European Commission.

Against this background, we encourage the EU Commission to pave the way in its proposal for the “Labour Mobility Package” for co-ordination rules for social security that reflect the EU of today, building future sustainability of the rules, including:

  • with regard to social security costs, ensuring balance in terms of sharing the burden and solidarity between Member States.
  • to the widest extent founded on individual rights and reflecting modern patterns of family living, as well as the interaction between family and working life
  • as part of this, reviewing the coordination rules so that they ensure a balanced categorisation of family benefits and are perceived as just and reasonable,
  • looking at modernisation of the provisions in the coordination rules in relation to posted workers so that they meet the needs that migrant workers and their employers have today.