Social security in the EU and worldwide
The Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection is active not only in Austria but also in international organizations and at EU level:
• The European Union, especially the Council of the European Union,
• The Council of Europe,
• The United Nations (UN),
• Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),
• The International Labour Organization (ILO)
The activities of the Ministry in these organizations and their committees focus on socio-political cooperation as well as on drafting documents and making decisions.
Moreover, there are separate agreements in the socio-political field with individual countries ("bilateral affairs")
All Member States of the EU have very different and historically grown social systems. The main responsibility for social policy therefore rests with the Member States themselves. Important tasks of the EU are EU legislation (directives and regulations) and case law (European Court of Justice).
EU policies are implemented through a wide range of programmes, such as EaSI - Programme for Employment and Social Innovation, FEAD - Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived and REC - Program for Rights, Equality and Citizenship.
The EU also plays an important role in the exchange of information and experience.
At EU level in particular the Council "Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Protection" is concerned with social policy issues. The Council meets about four times a year to pass European legislation.
European platform against poverty and social exclusion
Within the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion is designed to help EU countries reach the headline target of lifting 20 million people out of poverty and social exclusion.
The Austrian Platform for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion has been set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs for national implementation.
Further information on the platform can be found under the section Social Policy Analysis - Poverty and Living Conditions.
OECD - Attache of the Ministry of Social Affairs
The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) is an intergovernmental economic organization based in Paris and currently has 40 member states. Its main purpose is the accomplishment of economic, social and environmental challenges of globalization.
The Ministry of Social Affairs has a social attaché at the OECD in Paris.
United Nations – international social policyThe United Nations plays an important role in the creation and enforcement of international social policy. The organization has 193 member states. The headquarters is located in New York City.
In particular, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) deal with social policy.
In September 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in New York. They contain three dimensions: Economy, Environment and Social Affairs. These goals aim to end poverty by 2030.
The SDGs at a glace
- End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and Girls
- Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster Innovation
- Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production Patterns
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its Impacts
- Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
- Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
- Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all Levels
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
All bilateral activities serve as an information exchange with all countries worldwide.
They range from the organization of bi- and multilateral expert seminars, visits of ministers to bilateral agreements and to joint working groups in the social sector.
In addition, three social attachés of the Ministry of Social Affairs are active in countries such as Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in the Republic of Moldova, where they support local authorities, social institutions and NGOs to establish European social standards.
Bi- and multilateral expert seminars
The most important topics covered in these seminars are:
• Development of social protection systems
• Persons with disabilities
• Labour market and labour law
• Poverty reduction
• Social services
• Consumer protection
By attending various social institutions and NGOs from the social field, the participants in the seminar can also be given practical insights into the Austrian social system.
Bilateral treaties and agreements
Bilateral agreements can be either
• Bilateral relations through social security treaties (intergovernmental treaties) or
• Departmental agreements without international law character.
Social security treaties are particularly of importance for employees who work outside their home countries. An overview of existing social insurance agreements can be found in the download section.
Departmental agreements ("Memorandum of Understanding" MoU) in the field of labor and social affairs were agreed with the following states:
• China (2014 - 2017)
• Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2014 - 2019)
• Russia (since 2011, for an indefinite period)
• Serbia (2012 - 2017)
• Ukraine (2014 - 2016)
Russia: bilateral working group for social cooperation
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, which has resulted in an intensive exchange of experience in the labor and social field in recent years.
Priority themes until now have been issues regarding combating poverty, senior citizens' policy, active aging, long-term care, policies for persons with disabilities, social services and social inclusion.