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Under Pressure? – Swedish Residence-based Social Security and EU Citizenship

Journal article
Authors Thomas Erhag
Published in European Journal of Social Security
Volume 18
Issue 2
Pages 207-231
ISSN 1388-2627
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Law
Pages 207-231
Language en
Keywords EU citizens; residence-based benefi ts; residence concept; right to residence; Sweden; universal welfare
Subject categories Law


Th is article analyses the impact of free movement of persons on Swedish residencebased social security in the areas of old-age pensions, health care and social assistance. Since becoming a member of the EU in 1995 Sweden has made both minor and larger adaptations of various residence concepts in social security law. Th e article describes these legislative changes and analyses the practical implications for migration as well as whether the changes have had a deeper impact on values in Swedish social security. Th e analysis shows that the Swedish legislator and courts are struggling to strike a balance between residence-based social security and free movement of persons. An early − and also a major − change was to turn the guarantee-level pension into a pro-rata scheme. To follow up the consequences of this, a special non-contributory benefi t had to be introduced to prevent an infl ow of applicants into social assistance. However, this benefi t has proved to be vulnerable to mobility. Th e implementation of Directive 2004/38 was made without any real changes of social security legislation. At a later stage this led to diffi culties in the application of the various residence-concepts in Swedish law. Th e legislator is now using various techniques to improve access to residence-based benefi ts and, at the same time, ensure a minimum coverage for migrants to ensure that the basic values of Swedish social security as well as international obligations are fulfi lled.

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