The purpose of the IPA Social Security Co-ordination and Social Security Reforms Joint Programme between the European Commission and the Council of Europe is to continue assisting the Beneficiary Parties in the South-East Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Turkey, as well as Kosovo1) in further enhancing the regional coordination of the social security systems and facilitating institutional, legislative and administrative reforms in the field of social protection according to Council of Europe and EU standards.
The Regional Programme on Social Security Reforms and Social Security
Co-ordination has started in March 2008 and will last until November 2010.
This Programme is the integral continuation of the Social Institutions Support Joint Programme of the European Commission and the Council of Europe under the CARDS Regional Action Programme (2004-2007).
While the SSCSSR Programme is targeting governments, politicians, civil servants, social institutions, academia and other stakeholders dealing with social issues, ultimately the final beneficiaries of the Programme are all citizens and residents in the Region, in particular migrant workers and their families, refugees, pensioners, women, minority groups, people with disabilities or in need of general health care, etc.
The Programme design is reflecting the aspirations of the Beneficiary Parties, as well as the objectives to be achieved throughout its implementation. Thus, social security summer schools, workshops on pensions, health care and data exchange, study visits will be organised as the training part of the Programme. Speaking days and sets of studies and legal analysis will contribute to the development of practical capacity and legislative field accordingly.
By the end of the Programme further general and specialised training for all interlocutors working in the social security field in the Region on Council of Europe standards in the field of social security as well as on the principles and regulations governing the social security coordination in the EU will be provided.
A number of individual complaints concerning the barriers on the way to executing social security rights will be examined. This will have a direct impact on the citizens and residents of the Region.
Through the preparation of sets of reports and legal analysis, the idea is first to assist Beneficiary Parties with the understanding of the differences between their national systems compared to those countries that have already joined the EU (hence implementing the EU rules of coordination).
Steering Committee meetings along with the State Secretary Meeting and the Ministerial Conference will provide political coordination, visibility and guarantee the achievement of the final results.
The programme will be implemented in close cooperation with the European Institute of Social Security (Leuven, Belgium) which will be among its main partners involved in the Academic part of the Programme.
Other international organisations and institutions will be invited to participate in selected activities so as to give a global picture of present international standards in social security in general and social security coordination in particular.
As far as the organisation structure and team proposed are concerned, the Programme will be managed by an official administrator of the Social Policy Department, Directorate General – Social Cohesion, of the Council of Europe.
On the regional level the Regional Programme Office in Skopje has been established. Local Programme Officers in each Beneficiary Party have been appointed. Local Programme Officers will be acting as local interlocutors in the organisation of all events and act as contact persons between the Council of Europe and the administration of the Beneficiary Parties.
1: All references to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nation Security Council 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo