Social Security in the EU, the EEA and Switzerland

The right of the citizens to free movement is one of the EU fundamental principles . In the area of ​​social security, this entails the duty of the Member States to treat migrating EU citizens as their own nationals not to restrict their ability to work in individual Member States. The national social security schemes of the individual Member States are not harmonised, but merely coordinated. The reason lies in the diversity of the social schemes of these countries, which are based on different principles and have different institutional arrangements. Coordination leaves national legislation unchanged, thus also keeping differences among national schemes. Coordination replaces only those national regulations that are disadvantageous for migrating citizens. For these cases, the EU lays down its own rules of coordination. With regard to the mobility and free movement of employees, self-employed persons and all EU citizens, the special provisions of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security schemes apply. Social security coordination within the EU does not exclude the option to enter into bilateral agreements.

Social security coordination is based on four basic principles that mean the following for migrating workers:

  • Under the principle of equal treatment, migrating citizens have the same rights and obligations as the nationals of the Member State in which they stay.
  • The principle of single applicable law should help avoid a situation where a migrating citizen is subject to the legislation of multiple countries or is not insured at all. As a general rule, an employee or a self-employed person is subject to the legislation of the country in which he/she works.
  • The principle of aggregation of periods of insurance is used in cases where a person spends part of his/herworking life in one Member State and another part in another Member State without reaching the prescribed period of insurance in either of them. The coordination regulations include provisions that allow taking into account the periods of insurance accumulated in other Member States in assessing the entitlement to benefits.
  • Under the principle of the exportability of benefits, a beneficiary living outside the Member State where he/she is entitled to a benefit can collect the benefit in the Member State in which he/she resides or stays.

Example

I am an artist paying social security contributions as a self-employed person in the Czech Republic. Do I have to pay these contributions if I am leaving to work in Belgium? What are my duties towards OSSZ?

Social security in the EU, the EEA, and Switzerland

If you are going to pursue self-employment activities in a Member State of the EU or the EEA or in Switzerland,  which is the case of Belgium, you will be subject to the social security legislation of the particular Member State (the country is determined according to the place of your business) according to the Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

As a general rule, the social security coverage of an independent (self-employed) artist or an employee is subject to the legislation of just one Member State. Like all mobile workers, you are subject to the laws of the country in which you are actually employed or self-employed.

If, however, you perform temporary work in another EU Member State for no longer than 24 months, you should be insured in the social security scheme of your country of origin (in this case in the Czech Republic). The principle of posting applies here: If an employee is sent by his/her employer for a temporary job to another Member State, this is referred to as posting; a self-employed person can post himself or herself (self-posting). The principle of posting applies to activities in another EU country for a period of up to 24 months  In such case, you have to contact the competent social security authority at your place of residence at least 30 days before your departure, requesting the issuance of the A1 Form that you will take with you as a proof of social security coverage in one of the EU Member States.

If you intend to stay for more than 24 months, you will be subject to the social security legislation of the country of your destination (in this case Belgium) from the first day.

You will have to deregister from the relevant OSSZ in the Czech Republic and register in the social security scheme at a similar institution in Belgium. While working in Belgium, you will be subject to the social security legislation of the country where you perform the work (i.e. you will pay contributions to the social security scheme of Belgium pursuant to the Belgian legislation.)