Website of the Austrian Social Ministry

Social security in the EU and internationally

The Ministry of Social Affairs is not only active in Austria; it is also represented in international organisations and at an EU level. These include:

  • The European Union, particularly the Council of the European Union
  • The Council of Europe
  • The United Nations
  • The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO)

These organisations and their committees are primarily concerned with sociopolitical cooperation and joint work on documents and resolutions. 

Alongside this, there are also separate sociopolitical arrangements with individual countries (bilateral issues).

Social policy in the EU

All of the Member States of the EU have very different social systems which have grown over a long time. The main responsibility for social policy therefore still lies with the Member States themselves. Important tasks of the EU are EU legislation (directives and regulations) and jurisdiction (European Court of Justice).

At the same time, it creates instruments for the cooperation of the Member States, such as the joint strategy for social protection and social inclusion, and various action plans (EaSI - Social Innovation and Employment programme, FEAD - Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, and REC - Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme).

The EU also plays an important role in the exchange of information and experiences.
At an EU level, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in particular deals with social policy issues. In this Council, the relevant ministers meet around four times a year to adopt European legislation. Summaries of these meetings can be found in the downloads area.

European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion

As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion is intended to help EU countries to achieve the goal of the strategy - freeing 20 million people from poverty and social exclusion. As part of national implementation, the Ministry of Social Affairs has established the Austrian Platform to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion.
Further information on the platform can be viewed in the menu item Social Policy Analyses - Poverty and Living Conditions.

OECD - Attaché of the Ministry of Social Affairs

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is an international organisation for economic affairs based in Paris which is currently composed of 40 members. Its main purpose is overcoming the economic, social and ecological challenges of globalisation.
The Ministry of Social Affairs has a social attaché there.

United Nations - international social policy

The United Nations plays a significant role in the creation and realisation of international social policy. The organisation has 193 member states. Its headquarters are in New York City.

Social policy is largely dealt with by its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Committee for Social Development. 
In September 2015, its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in New York. They cover three dimensions: the economy, the environment and social affairs. The idea is that with the help of these goals there will be no more poverty in the world by 2030.

An overview of the SDGs

Bilateral affairs

Bilateral activities facilitate the exchange of information with countries throughout the world. They range from the organisation of bilateral and multilateral expert seminars and ministerial visits via bilateral agreements to bilateral working groups in the social sector.
In addition, three social attachés from the Ministry work in the countries of  Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Moldova, where they support local authorities, social institutions and NGOs in the establishment of European social standards.

Bilateral and multilateral expert seminars

The most important issues which are dealt with in these seminars are:

  • Building up social welfare systems
  • Pensions
  • People with disabilities
  • Labour market and labour law
  • Combating poverty
  • Social services
  • Consumer protection.

By visiting various social facilities and NGOs in the social sector, seminar participants can also obtain a practical insight into the Austrian social system.

Bilateral agreements

Bilateral agreements can be either:

  • Bilateral relations via social insurance agreements (treaties) or
  • Agreements at a ministerial level without rights and obligations in international law.

Social insurance agreements are of significance above all for people who work outside their home country. You can find an overview of existing social insurance agreements in the downloads.

Bilateral declarations of intent with regard to cooperation in the fields of labour and social affairs have been concluded with the following states:

  • China (2014 - 2017)
  • Macedonia (2014 - 2019)
  • Russia (since 2011 for an indefinite period)
  • Serbia (2012 - 2017)
  • Ukraine (2014 - 2016)

Russia - bilateral working group on cooperation in the social sector

Within the framework of the Russian-Austrian economic commission, a bilateral working group was set up in 1999 for cooperation in the social sector between the two countries, through which there has subsequently been an intensive exchange of experiences in the employment and social sectors in recent years.

Priority themes until now have been questions of combating poverty, senior citizens' policy, active ageing, provision for long-term care, policy for people with disabilities, social services and social integration.