European Code of Social Security

  The Department
Social Charter
Social Security


Standards setting
Coordination of national legislations


Mutual Information System on Social Protection (MISSCEO)
Publications on social security
Social Security

Bilateral cooperation

Agenda of cooperation






In the field of social security, the Council of Europe operates also through two types of bilateral cooperation :

cooperation with countries that have not yet signed or ratified the Code, Protocol or Revised Code;
technical cooperation with countries that have ratified them but are experiencing legal or administrative problems with applying them, or that wish to extend their commitments by accepting additional parts of the Code or Protocol.

Cooperation and assistance in preparation for signature and ratification of standard-setting instruments

This well established type of cooperation began in the 1990s as part of the pre-accession and accession processes whereby central and east European countries became members of the Council of Europe. It pursues a number of aims:
to inform people about the Council of Europeís social security instruments;
to offer legal advice with a view to bringing national law into line with European standards;
to promote ratification of the relevant instruments.

In practice it takes place chiefly at bilateral or regional level, through training seminars, compatibility studies and 'zero reports'. The purpose of a compatibility study is to provide a government with an overview of its current law and practice and prepare for a 'zero report' on application of the Code. 'Zero reports' analyse the extent to which existing law and proposed legislation comply with the Code and Protocol. Their preparation is similar to that of the detailed reports submitted by countries that have already ratified the instruments. When submitting a 'zero report' a country has to enclose copies of relevant legislation and statistics in order to prove that the Codeís requirements are being met (see Article 75 of the Code).

Technical cooperation

Contracting states, which are experiencing legal or administrative problems with application of certain provisions of the Code or Protocol, or which want to accept additional parts of those instruments, are provided with technical assistance aiming at:

helping countries with technical or administrative issues concerning the reporting procedure;

assessing what impact application of the Code and Protocol will have on projected reforms and draft legislation concerning the various social contingencies, so that incompatibility can be avoided;

improving coordination between contracting partiesí commitments under, on the one hand, the European Code of Social Security and its Protocol and, on the other, the ILO's social security conventions;

supplying legal analysis and support contracting parties that wish to extend their commitments by accepting additional parts of the Code or Protocol.

Many technical cooperation activities are jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the ILO on a bilateral basis with the countries concerned, and they take different forms depending on countriesí needs. They may include, for example, direct contact and consultation between national and international experts, technical consultation missions, reports on draft legislation and proposed reforms, and training for national civil servants.