Protocol 12 of the EEA Agreement: Understanding its Importance for European Economic Area Countries
The European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement is a treaty that ensures the free movement of goods, services, people, and capital between the countries of the European Union (EU) and three of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states: Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
Protocol 12 of the EEA Agreement was added on 11 May 1999 and deals with the coordination of social security systems between the parties. The protocol outlines the principles of coordination, which includes the determination of which country`s social security legislation applies when there is a cross-border situation.
The aim of Protocol 12 is to ensure that EU citizens and EFTA nationals, as well as their family members and survivors, can access social security benefits in the country where they work or have worked without being subject to double social security contributions or losing their rights to benefits.
The protocol applies to all types of social security systems including pensions, sickness benefits, maternity and paternity benefits, and unemployment benefits. It also covers medical treatment and care, and the payment of family allowances.
In practice, this means that EEA nationals who have worked in one or more of the EEA countries and have contributed to the social security system can claim benefits in the country where they currently reside or where they have previously worked.
Similarly, people who have worked in different countries within the EEA can aggregate their contributions and claim benefits from the country of their choice. This helps to ensure that individuals can access the benefits they are entitled to regardless of where they live or work.
Overall, Protocol 12 of the EEA Agreement plays a vital role in ensuring that the social security systems of the EEA countries are coordinated, efficient, and fair. By facilitating the free movement of people and capital within the EEA, the protocol helps to support economic growth and prosperity for all of the countries involved.
As such, it is essential that EEA countries continue to work together to maintain and strengthen the provisions of the protocol in the context of any changing circumstances, such as Brexit. By doing so, they can continue to provide a high level of social and economic protection for their citizens and ensure the ongoing success of the European project.