Derived rights to family members of insured workers to social security, health benefits and study grants was essential 55 years ago in the six founding members of the EU that all had social insurance models and a male breadwinner model. Therefore, it made sense in 1958 to include the principle of derived rights to family members in the EU regulation 3/58 coordination of social security for migrant workers. The world today is different.
Nationally, the principle makes less sense as privatization and individualization is on the rise and the male breadwinner model is either extinct or on the decline as women increasingly want returns on their education and as governments wants to increase employment. In the EU, the principle fuels national debates on welfare tourism and the EU as a social union. In this policy analysis, I suggest to drop the principle of derived rights for family members for EU migrant workers. This will kill two birds with one stone, i.e. modernize social protection and reduce unintended use of national welfare systems. The latter is important because the alternative response to fears – real or not – can be the reduction of social assistance, child benefits, study grants, housing allowances and so on. In other words in attempts of the EU Court of Justice and the European Commission to create a more social Europe for migrants and their family members, the prize may be a less Social Europe for everybody else. This would be sad both for the EU and the populations in the EU. For an elaboration in Danish, see the analysis “Tirsdagsanalyse- Velfærdsturisme” in the daily newspaper, Politiken, last Tuesday.