Research Handbook on European Social Security Law
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Research Handbook on European Social Security Law

Edited by Frans Pennings and Gijsbert Vonk

This Handbook encompasses four dimensions of European social security law: social security as a human right, standard setting in social security, the protection of mobile persons and migrants and the global context of European social security law. It pays attention to both EU law and to various instruments of the Council of Europe. In 25 chapters prominent experts analyse contemporary debates, discuss new challenges and point out further lines of research. Through this exploration, the Handbook provides a source of inspiration for the development of this special field of law.
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Chapter 7: The development of European social security standards

Matti Mikkola


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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