The EEA Social Security Agreement: Understanding Its Importance
The European Economic Area (EEA) is a single market that allows for the free movement of goods, services, people, and capital between the member states. As part of this cooperation, the EEA countries have also signed a social security agreement that helps to protect the social rights of workers and their families who move between these countries.
The EEA social security agreement came into force in 1994 and covers the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (until it left the European Union in 2020).
The agreement aims to coordinate the different national social security schemes and ensure that workers and their families are not disadvantaged when moving between these countries. This means that if you are a worker who moves from one EEA country to another, you will continue to be covered by your home country`s social security system and entitled to the same benefits as if you had stayed there. Similarly, if you move back to your home country, you will continue to be covered by its system.
One of the key benefits of the EEA social security agreement is that it allows workers to aggregate time spent working in different EEA countries for the purpose of calculating their entitlement to benefits. For example, if you have worked in Spain for two years and then move to Norway, the time you spent working in Spain will be taken into account when calculating your entitlement to Norwegian benefits. This means that you can build up entitlement to benefits across different countries, which can be particularly useful if you are planning to retire in a different country to the one you are currently living in.
The EEA social security agreement covers a wide range of benefits, including healthcare, sickness and maternity benefits, disability benefits, old-age and survivor`s benefits, and unemployment benefits. It also includes provisions to ensure that workers who are posted to another EEA country temporarily (for example, as part of a work assignment) are not disadvantaged in terms of social security coverage. This means that if you are posted to another EEA country by your employer, you will be entitled to the same social security benefits as a worker who is permanently employed in that country.
In conclusion, the EEA social security agreement is an important tool that helps to protect the social rights of workers and their families who move between EEA countries. It provides a framework for coordinating different national social security schemes and ensuring that workers are not disadvantaged when moving between countries. If you are planning to work or live in another EEA country, it is important to understand your entitlement to social security benefits under this agreement.