Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Frans Pennings and Gijsbert Vonk
Chapter 7: The development of European social security standards
In Europe, ‘social security’ is defined as covering social insurance benefits compensating for the loss of gainful activity, family benefits and medical insurance (for access to health services). Social insurance benefits are of two types. They either intend to compensate for the loss of gainful activity, when the level of benefit is defined on the basis of previous earnings, or they aim at ensuring the inclusion and basic standard of living of everyone in a given society in the form of flat-rate benefits like employment support or social pension. In the last resort, this could also be ensured by means-tested social assistance. As a human right, the last of these forms a common fundamental, universal and egalitarian base, the right to minimum income, having an inalienable nature, while an earnings-related income security intends to ensure the fair income of the employees in times of a temporary, or a more permanent, retirement from participation in the labour market. As a roadmap for the better future and well-being of workers tired after the Second World War, the International Labour Organization (ILO) was the first to set minimum standards for social security in 1952. The Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention No 102 was created as the flagship of all ILO social security conventions.
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