Transnational Migration, Citizenship and the Circulation of Rights and Responsibilities (TRANSMIC)

The external dimension of EU social security coordination: Case studies on India, Turkey and the US

(ESR 2; Maastricht University)

Research plan: This research project concerned the external dimension of EU social security coordination. The external dimension of EU social security coordination is currently composed of a patchwork of legal instruments. It is composed of national bilateral agreements, EU instruments (EU agreements with third countries and EU migration Directives), and international standards adopted by the ILO or the Council of Europe. This patchwork of instruments renders the situation complex not only for third-country workers coming to the EU as well as for EU citizens going abroad, but also for businesses that would like to invest in the EU labour market. Building on that context, this research had two aims:

  • Mapping the different elements of the current EU approach to social security coordination.
  • Developing a common EU approach based on the different elements identified.

Throughout this research, the method of comparative legal analysis was used. In the mapping of the national instruments on social security coordination, 9 bilateral agreements between India, Turkey, and USA with the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany were analyzed. With regard to the EU instruments and the international standards, an exhaustive analysis has been conducted.

Summary of research findings:

  • The national bilateral agreements selected contain very similar provisions and structure but differ on scope and on the provision for posted workers.
  • The EU instruments follow a very fragmented approach. The EU agreements with third countries have varying coordination regime ranging from a very strong coordination with EFTA States and Switzerland to merely political promises with countries like Egypt or Lebanon. The recommendation from this research is to encourage the European Commission to include clear, precise and unconditional provisions on social security coordination in EU agreements.
  • The international instruments should serve as guidelines in the development of a common EU approach
  • Given the potential lack of legal basis for the EU to adopt agreements on social security coordination with third countries, this research advocated for the EU to draft together with the Member States a model agreement which could be used as a template in negotiations of future agreements.

Research period: January 2015-January 2018

Status: finished. Dissertation successfully defended on 2 July 2018 at Maastricht University.

Researcher: Pauline Melin  (profile page)


Pauline Melin completed her Bachelor degree in European and International law at Maastricht University where she wrote her bachelor thesis on mutual trust between Member States of the European Union in the field of immigration law. During her bachelor, she stayed for a semester at the Faculty of Law of Lund University (Sweden) where she specialised in European Union law. Pauline Melin then graduated with cum laude from the Master degree in European Law at Maastricht University. During her master studies, she participated and won the prestigious European Law Moot Court Competition (ELMC) organised by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Prior to the start of her PhD, she completed an internship at the Court of Justice of the European Union working for the Judge Ilešic, President of the Third Chamber of the Court.

Pauline successfully defended her PhD dissertation in July 2018. Currently, she is a lecturer in EU Law at the Faculty of Law at Maastricht University.