First [email protected] ‘COVID-19 and social security: Ensuring adequate social security for all

Yesterday, CESI hosted a [email protected] together with the Bertelsmann Stiftung focusing on the impacts of COVID-19 on the provision of social security.

The event, which took place online, was moderated by CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger together with Birgit Wintermann, project manager for ‘Business in society’ at Bertelsman Stiftung, and featured a panel of speakers including Paul Schoukens, Professor of Social Security Law at KU Leuven, Ilka Wölfle, President of the European Social Insurance Platform (ESIP), and Ben Hoogendam, Relations Manager at CESI’s member CNV-Connectief, the Dutch National Federation of Christian Trade Unions (CNV).

The event took place against the backdrop of the social, economic and labour-market fallout of COVID-19, which has added an immediate urgency to the already existing challenge to ensure adequate social protection for all – in labour markets that had already before COVID-19 been becoming more fragmented over space and time, with employment relationships increasingly diverse and bringing growing risks that economically-active persons in precarious employment, bogus self-employment and the solo self-employed fall through the social security system’s safety nets.

During the discussion among the speakers and with the audience, questions were addressed such as:

• How to achieve a future-oriented world of work with sustainable social security systems and adequate social protection for all?
• How to square this objective with the expected expensive social COVID-19 fallout? And how to reconcile increasing worker mobility with transparent social protection entitlements that are easily transferable between sectors, job types and Member States?
• And what role should be played by the EU, the Member States and social partners, and trade unions in particular?

The debate showed that in particular for typical precarious forms of work, there is still a long-way to in order to provide everyone, including the bogus solo-self-employed with adequate social protection and that the COVID-19 crisis could pose unprecedented challenges for the financial sustainability of existing public social protection systems.

CESI will continue the debate with its partners, its members and with policy-makers at EU and the national levels, based on its recent position paper on the future of work, enriched by the insights of experts such as at yesterday’s [email protected]