As their name indicates (nomen est omen), bilateral agreements are concluded between two
states. They may be of a substantive or an administrative nature, and included in one or more
instruments. According to their substance, bilateral social security agreements do not harmo-
nise, but link together (coordinate) the social security systems of the two contracting p arties in
order for internationally mobile persons not to lose their social security entitlements. Yet,
bilateral social security agreements are not the only instruments linkingnationalsocialsecu-
rity systems. The European Union (EU) social security coordination Regulations are the most
important social security coordination instruments in Europe.
They present an advanced form
of coordination, as they establish unified rules, which become relevant for movements
between two or more States. Such multilateral and supranational coordination regime estab-
lishes common social security coordination rules for the EU Member States, which is also
applicable for the EEA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland, based on
separate agreements. Therefore, at least by European authors, other social security coordina-
tion instruments are usually presented as comparisons with Regulation (EC) 883/2004 on the
coordination of social security systems.
Although, the coordination Regulations have a con-
siderable impact on persons, including third-country nationals, who move within the EU,
other coordination instruments may be more important when people move to or from (or
between) countries outside the EU.
In addition to bilateral agreements, multilateral agreements (e.g. covenants, conventions, char-
ters, and protocols) must also be mentioned. They may be concluded directly by the countries
involved, like the Nordic States
or the Ibero-American States,
or passed by international orga-
nisations, like the United Nations (UN), International Labour Organisation (ILO) or the Council of
Moreover, unilateral measures of a single State may influence the social security position
of moving persons, including the construction of the right to private property.
legislative efforts are being encouraged also by certain international instruments.
This article focuses on EU Member States (MS) approaches to distinctive bilateral agreements
with Non-EU States. They are not only the oldest coordination instruments, but remain the most
2. They are being constantly developed by the legislator and especially by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), making
them one of the most complex and dynamic mechanisms of ensuring the right to social security to persons moving
between the Member States. Cornelissen (2009: 14).
3. Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the coordination of
social security systems (OJ 2004 L 166:1, and corrigendum OJ 2004 L 200:1, as later amended) and Regulation (EC)
987/2009 of the European Parliament and the Council of 16 September 2009 (OJ 2009 L 284:1, as later amended),
4. On the relation between bilateral agreements and EU law see Ro
5. C.f. Nordic Convention on Social Security (1955, latest revision in 2014), which has replaced 12 bilateral and multi-
lateral agreements at that time and in certain aspects provides broader personal and material coverage than Regulation
(EC) 883/2004. Trier (1982:259). See also Nordic Convention on Social Assistance and Social Services (1994, the
Nordic Convention on Social Security, since 1992 covers only social insurance benefits, www.norden.org, February
6. Ibero-American Multilateral Convention on Social Security (2007, www.oiss.org, February 2018).
7. Strban (2009: 85).
8. One of the more interesting cases of the European Court of Human Rights on the topic is ECHR, Case 10441/06, of
7.11.2013, Pichkur v. Ukraine. The right to private property argument is used to guarantee export of pensions.
9. Paragraph 4 of Article 12 of the (initial and revised) European Social Charter encourages the Parties to take steps, also by
other means (hence also unilateral measures) to ensure coordination of social security systems.
130 European Journal of Social Security 20(2)