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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 20 November 2013

Social security: Commission refers Finland to Court for restricting rights of people that have worked in other Member States

The European Commission has decided to refer Finland to the EU’s Court of Justice for requiring workers applying for unemployment benefits to have worked in Finland for at least four weeks (or four months of self-employment) as a condition to take into account periods of unemployment insurance paid in another Member State. This requirement discriminates against workers that have worked in other Member States (both Finns and nationals of other Member States) and is in breach of EU law to ensure free movement of workers.

Under EU rules on the coordination of social security schemes to facilitate the free movement of workers, Member States have to take into account periods of social security insurance paid in other EU countries as though they were periods completed under their own legislation. This principle ensures that workers exercising their right to free movement are not deprived of social security advantages to which they would have been entitled if they had spent their working life in only one Member State. These rules are laid down in Article 48(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and specified for the purpose of unemployment insurance in Article 61 of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004.

Under this Regulation, Member States are obliged to apply this principle for unemployment benefits as soon as the worker concerned joins the unemployment insurance scheme of the competent Member State. However, in Finland it is only applied if the worker has worked in Finland, immediately before becoming unemployed, for four weeks as an employee or four months as self-employed.. This additional requirement affects essentially workers that have worked in other Member States, because workers with the same employment record who have completed their periods of insurance - in Finland do not have to fulfil this additional condition in order to get their employment and insurance record recognised by the Finnish unemployment insurance scheme.

The Commission requested Finland to end this discrimination against workers from other Member States in its reasoned opinion of 30 May 2013 (MEMO/13/470), but the Finnish authorities have refused to take appropriate measures to comply.

For more information:

EU Social Security Coordination

More information on infringement procedures

On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12

On the November infringement package decisions: MEMO/13/1005

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