European Code of Social Security

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Standards setting
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Social Security

Standards Setting

The Council of Europe provided with legal instruments to define common European social security standards. These valuable tools are the European Code of Social Security, its Protocol and the European Code of Social Security (revised). These international standard-setting conventions can be used for orientation in the reform process going on in many European countries, especially in central and eastern Europe. They require states to alter the substance of their social security systems. They may have to change the amount of benefit or length of the qualifying period.

The underlying idea of these instruments is to promote a social security model based on social justice. They represent a series of minimum standards. They do not call for the full standardisation (or unification as it is sometimes called) of the national social security systems. Standardisation would require all the contracting parties to provide the same benefits to the same categories of their population at the same rates and under the same conditions. Instead the Code, Protocol and Revised Code recognise the desirability of harmonising the level of social security in member states and therefore establish minimum requirements. If states wish to provide more than the minimum they are free to do so.

The Code, Protocol and Revised Code also respect the diversity and individuality of the national social security systems. All social security systems are different, they are the product of the distinctive social, political and economic traditions of the states in which they have evolved. The provisions of the Code, Protocol, and Revised Code represent goals for every member state of the Council of Europe. They explain what must be achieved but leave every state to determine how it will be achieved. The goals are designed in such a way that they can be applied to all types of social security system, whether entitlement is based on employment, specific categories of occupations, the whole economically active population or upon residence.

A supervisory procedure is established and it demands that the contracting parties prepare reports concerning their compliance with the standards provided within the Code, Protocol and Revised Code. These reports are then assessed by experts who report in turn to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers determines if the contracting party has fulfilled its obligations. If the contracting party has failed to uphold the standards to which it has committed itself then the Committee of Ministers can make Resolutions inviting the contracting party concerned to rectify the situation and respect its international obligations.

These specialized social security instruments form an essential component of the protection of human rights through the Council of Europe.

National reports submitted in conformity with Article 74 of the European Code of Social Security (accepted parts of the Code)
Annual reports for the period 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015
(in the original language)

Belgium Greece Romania
Cyprus Ireland Slovenia
Czech Republic Italy Spain
Denmark Luxembourg Sweden
Estonia Netherlands Switzerland
France Norway Turkey
Germany Portugal United Kingdom

National reports submitted in conformity with Article 76 of the European Code of Social Security
(non accepted parts of the Code)
biennial reports for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2014
(in the original language)

Cyprus Ireland Spain
Czech Republic Italy Sweden
Denmark Norway Switzerland
Estonia Portugal Turkey
France Romania United Kingdom
Greece Slovenia