Welfare across borders: solidarity, equality and free movement (“LEVEL”)
Welfare services and benefits have a strong national dimension and constitute the core of the ‘welfare state‘. The provision of services and benefits is subject to the EEA Agreement and its fundamental principles of free movement, equal treatment and solidarity. The Norwegian Social Security Scandal confirms the broad reach of these principles.
The project's main objective is to analyze the impact of EEA law on the welfare state. It is the first analysis of its kind. The research group includes Europe's leading experts on free movement and European welfare law.
Work Package I examines three overarching issues. The first is to what extent the concept of solidarity in EU law is transferrable to the EEA context. Further we examine the reach of the social rights in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and their potential impact within the framework of the EEA agreement. The third question in Work Package I is how the rights in the EEA agreement should be reflected in national legislation. Welfare legislation is aimed at everyone. It is not sufficient to clarify what the rights are about; citizens must also be informed about their rights in a clear and comprehensive manner.
Work Package II deals with four specific issues. First, we will analyze and follow up the legal processes in the aftermath of the Social Security Scandal, as they provide important lessons. Second, we examine the impact of EEA law with regard to so-called activity requirements that pursue the objective of enabling integration into working life. If such requirements make physical presence in Norway necessary, this must be weighed against the right to free movement. Third, we explore the coherence between labour law and social security law with regard to protection of vulnerable groups, such as the self-employed. Fourth, we study patients' rights to receive cross-border treatment and related services throughout the EEA.
The EEA Agreement subjects the welfare systems of the EFTA States to the key principles underpinning the acquis of the European Union: solidarity, equality and free movement. The Expert Committee that investigated the Norwegian “Social Security Scandal” (NOU 2020: 9 Blindsonen) identified a lack of consciousness and knowledge about the existence, reach and depth of these principles.
The overarching objective of the project is to present the first comprehensive analysis of the main effects of EU welfare law within the ambit of the EEA Agreement. WP I provides a conceptual framework through analyses of: (i) The concept of solidarity and mutual trust applied within EEA Law; (ii) The fundamental right to “social security and social assistance”; (iii) "Implementation at national level". WP II provides analyses of central practical issues: (i) Exportation of social benefits; (ii)(ii) Activity-requirements and the negative free movement right not to travel; (iii) Social protection of atypical workers; (iiii) Patients’ free movement rights.
The Project team is headed by Professor Tarjei Bekkedal, Centre for European Law, University of Oslo. Bekkedal is Head of Studies and Vice Dean at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo. The team includes leading international scholars. The project will be situated at the Centre for European Law, UiO. It will take part in the European discourse and bring new knowledge home. While there is zero overlap, the project complements ongoing research projects, the managers of which are included in the project team (Andenas and Strom) and advisory board (Kjørven).
The advisory board consists of Professor Frans Pennings, representatives from the Law Faculty's Centre of excellence in teaching (Cell) and representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, LO (main trade union) and NHO (Confederation of Norwegian enterprise). This underpins the academic ambitions, the practical ambitions and the teaching ambitions of the project.