Social security


The co-ordination of the social security schemes is a necessary complement to the principle of free movement of persons. It enables workers, self-employed persons, pensioners, students and other persons to move and reside freely within the EEA without losing their social security rights.


EEA legislation in the field of social security does not harmonise national legislations.  It merely co-ordinates national social security schemes for persons moving within the EEA. The basic principles of social security co-ordination are the following:

  • Determination of the competent state 
  • Equal treatment in all EEA States of nationals from other EEA States
  • Aggregation of insurance periods for the purpose of determining and paying benefits
  • Export of benefits to all EEA States

Since 1 June 2012, the main instruments implementing these principles are the Co-ordination Regulations 883/2004 and 987/2009 which cover the following social security schemes:

  • Sickness and maternity
  • Accidents at work
  • Occupational diseases
  • Invalidity benefits
  • Old-age pension
  • Survivors' benefits
  • Death grants
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Family benefits

The provisions do not, however, apply to social and medical assistance and benefits granted to victims of war. Nor do they cover taxation issues which are governed by bilateral agreements.

Unlike in the EU, in the EFTA States, the co-ordination system does not apply to third country nationals

Furthermore, the co-ordination of supplementary pension rights of employed and self-employed persons moving within the EEA is governed by a separate directive.

Relevant links

Other EEA Institutions

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