Looks at the negotiations on social security co-ordination arrangements after the end of the Brexit 'transition period', in January 2021

The long-established EU Social Security Co-ordination Regulations provide a reciprocal framework to protect social security and healthcare rights for people moving between EEA states (and Switzerland). The regulations:

  • clarify which state a person is insured in for contributions and benefits purposes;
  • require equal treatment in access to certain benefits;
  • allow periods of insurance in different countries to be aggregated; and
  • enable certain benefits (including state pensions) to be ‘exported’.

A well-established system of administrative co-operation underpins the rules.

The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) allows the existing co-ordination rules to continue to apply to people after the end of the transition period, if they come within the scope of the Agreement.

For those moving between the EU and the UK after the transition period (expected to end on 31 December 2020), the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK states that the parties will “agree to consider addressing social security coordination in the light of future movement of persons”, as part of future mobility arrangements based on non-discrimination between the EU states and “full reciprocity.”

The European Commission published a draft treaty text on 18 March covering all aspects of the EU’s envisaged Future Relationship with the UK. The draft treaty includes a Protocol on Social Security Coordination. Legal texts published by the UK Government on 19 May included a Draft Social Security Coordination Agreement setting out the UK’s proposals.

The two texts differ significantly. While the EU’s proposals would broadly speaking mean the continuation of the existing coordination rules (though applying to certain limited groups only), the UK’s draft agreement does not cover cash benefits beyond state pensions. The UK’s draft text also does not include provisions on reimbursement of healthcare costs for pensioners receiving an exported State Pension.

This briefing gives background to the negotiations on social security co-ordination, and compares the legal texts submitted by the UK and by the EU on this topic.