Documents considered by the Committee on 6 December 2017 Contents

8Coordination of social security systems

Committee’s assessment

Legally and politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested

Document details

Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004

Legal base

Article 48 TFEU; QMV, ordinary legislative procedure


Work and Pensions

Document Number

(38400), 15642/16 + ADDs 1–8, COM(16) 815

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

8.1Regulation 883/2004 determines which EU Member State is responsible for the calculation and payment of social security benefits for mobile EU citizens who move within the Union. Such citizens are, in principle, entitled to use the local benefits system on the same basis as nationals of their host Member State, including unemployment benefit, child benefit and state pensions, as well as having a right to access short- and long-term healthcare.

8.2In December 2016, the European Commission tabled a legislative proposal to bring Regulation 883/2004 in line with the case law of the European Court of Justice on access to benefits for unemployed EU citizens; clarify the rules for determining which EU country is responsible for payment of benefits; and to amend the provisions of the Regulation on access to unemployment benefit, salary-related family benefits52 and long-term care benefits. The Committee has set out the details of this proposal in some detail in previous Reports in February53 and November 2017.54

8.3The amendments to the Regulation are unlikely to apply before the UK withdraws from the EU in March 2019. However, the Regulation, and this pending amendment, are nonetheless significant. The UK and EU have both agreed to maintain its provisions for EU nationals resident in the UK on “Brexit Day” and vice versa as part of any Withdrawal Agreement under Article 50 TEU. The two sides have also accepted the need for a mechanism to apply future changes to the Regulation, as agreed at EU-level, to citizens within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement.55 In addition, the Government is now seeking an “implementation period” for the immediate post-Brexit period, during which it is likely that Regulation 883/2004 would continue to apply as it did while the UK remained a Member State.

8.4The Government has been broadly supportive of the proposed amendments. On 23 October 2017, EU Employment Ministers agreed a partial general approach on the elements of the Commission proposal relating to equal treatment and the determination of applicable national legislation. The Committee considered the Council’s position, and the Government’s override of scrutiny to support its adoption,56 at our meeting on 13 November. We retained the proposal under scrutiny and asked a number of detailed questions of the Minister of State for Employment (Damian Hinds) about the Government’s position, including in the Article 50 negotiations.

8.5On 22 November, the Minister informed us that the Estonian Presidency was also seeking to secure a second partial general approach on long-term care benefits and family benefits at the EPSCO Council on 7 December.57 He noted that the Government was “prepared to accept the current text”. He added that the proposed coordination of long-term care benefits “should not have any financial impact for the UK”. As regards the inclusion of family benefits within the scope of the Regulation, the Minister confirmed that the UK “does not administer any benefits of this type”, and so there should “only be a limited financial impact”. To enable the Government to support this partial general approach, the Minister requested a scrutiny waiver in advance of the Council meeting.

8.6The European Parliament’s Employment & Social Affairs Committee, which will be responsible for negotiations with the Council on the final text of the amendments to Regulation 883/2004, has recently published a draft Report on the proposals.58 It is expected to adopt its mandate for those negotiations in the first half of 2018.

8.7We are not content to grant the Minister a scrutiny waiver ahead of the EPSCO Council on 7 December, we expect a swift reply to our outstanding questions contained in our Report of 13 November. In light of his latest letter, we also ask him to include in his reply why the proposed rules on family benefits would have a “limited” financial impact in the UK, given that no such benefit is administered here. We also note that the provisions of the Commission proposal relating to access to unemployment benefit have not yet been covered by a Council general approach.

8.8The Committee will consider the proposal further following receipt of the Minister’s reply to our previous Report. We expect to be kept informed of further progress within the Council and the European Parliament on this file, and will follow any trilogue negotiations closely.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004: (38400), 15642/16 + ADDs 1–8, COM(16) 815.

Previous Committee Reports

Thirty-first Report HC 71–xxix (2016–17), chapter 8 (8 February 2017) and First Report HC 301–i (2017–19), chapter 15 (13 November 2017).

52 Salary-related family benefits are a form of social security intended to replace income during child-raising periods.

53 See our predecessors’ Report of 8 February 2017.

55 See for more information on the implications of Brexit for social security coordination paragraphs 15.32 to 15.45 of our Report of 13 November.

56 The scrutiny override occurred because the Committee had not yet been reformed following the general election.

57 Letter from Damian Hinds to Sir William Cash (22 November 2017).

58 European Parliament document PE612.058 (20 November 2017).

11 December 2017