On 30 March 2012, the European Commission put forward a package including a policy Communication on the External Dimension of EU Social Security Coordination, together with 4 proposals for Council Decisions on the EU position concerning social security coordination with Albania, Montenegro, San Marino and Turkey.
Social security coordination with countries outside the EU is dealt with by means of bilateral social security agreements made between Member States and third countries. Such agreements often contain provisions that allow a worker from a third country to work in the EU country concerned but remain subject to the social security legislation of the sending state for a limited period of time. In addition, they can cover equal treatment in the system of the host state and payment of state pensions on the territory of the other state. Older agreements sometimes deal with reciprocal healthcare provision. Member States have only a limited number of such bilateral agreements; the contents of the agreements vary from country to country; and there are many third countries with whom no agreements exist.
The Communication makes the point that, although there is an internal system of EU social security coordination rules, there is no real cooperation in respect of third countries (other than in respect of the EEA countries and Switzerland). This creates external "fragmentation", which causes barriers for businesses coming from third countries and a lack of transparency as to what migrants' rights are, both for EU workers working outside the EU and for migrants from third countries working in the EU.
The Communication therefore suggests a number of ideas to encourage cooperation between the Member States in the field of social security coordination with third countries.
The Communication proposes a two-pronged approach. It underlines the need for better cooperation on national bilateral agreements and it promotes the development of a common EU approach. In general terms, it emphasises the need – consistent with the Europe 2020 strategy – for the EU to look outwards and to strengthen its external profile on social security issues.