Press Releases Press remarks by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis

Press remarks by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis

Remarks by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis:

Let me begin by referring to the principle of the free movement: all EU nationals have the right to travel, work and live in another EU country.

These are some of the EU’s great benefits for people in their daily lives. They are some of the keys to our economic prosperity and the strength of our single market.

They date from the earliest days of European integration.

And they go hand in hand with common rules on social security coordination.

It is thanks to these rules that people continue to receive benefits – such as for unemployment, healthcare, pensions – when they travel or move to another EU country.

Let’s take the European Health Insurance Card as an example.

It comes free of charge.

Around 235 million people hold one to help them get medical support when they are temporarily abroad.

The card allows you to be treated under the same conditions and costs as local nationals.

Unfortunately, accessing social security benefits in another EU country does not always work so smoothly or seamlessly.

There are interoperability issues between different social security systems that make it difficult for national authorities to access and share data.

In turn, this brings more costs for issuing and verifying people’s entitlement documents.

Just to note, each year there are 3.6 million requests for proof of social security coverage in cross-border situations.

It takes more time, because these procedures often rely on physical presence and paper documents.

And it means a lot of paperwork and hassle for millions of European citizens and businesses.

Today, we are proposing to work together with Member States to end all this – and to go digital.

Digitalisation is the key for making the EU’s national social security systems more automated, interoperable and integrated.

So what does the Commission propose in today’s communication?

As part of the EU’s drive to embrace digitalisation, we can build on several existing EU initiatives that support the development of cross-border digital public services so that people get fast access to eligible benefits.

This includes the Single Digital Gateway, which requires that people and businesses have full online access to key administrative procedures by the end of this year.

Then, to make handling of cross-border social security cases between institutions more efficient, we want Member States to speed up implementation of the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information System.

This system replaces paper-based exchanges between national social security institutions.

It should be fully operational across Europe by the end of 2024.

We want to move forward with introducing the EU digital wallet to allow EU nationals to carry digital versions of their social security entitlement documents – again, such as the European Health Insurance Card.

This will make it easier for social security institutions, labour inspectorates and healthcare providers to verify them instantly.

Various EU funding instruments for digitalisation are available – such as the Digital Europe Programme, InvestEU, European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund Plus.

Nicolas will give you more detail but just to conclude, digitalising the coordination of national social security systems will benefit both people and businesses across Europe.

It will make it easier for people to move around the EU to travel, live, work or study in other Member States.

It will help to reduce errors, prevent fraud and simplify procedures for businesses providing services abroad.

In short: removing barriers and red tape, providing a seamless digital experience.

Ultimately, digitalising this sector will stimulate sustainable growth and help to improve the EU’s competitiveness.

Thank you – and with that, I pass over to Nicolas.

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