Since 1993, the German health, retirement pensions and accident insurance institutions have worked closely together in the European Representation of the German Social Insurance (DSV) in Brussels, in order to present their interests jointly to EU institutions. For a number of issues, the European Representation is also an important partner for KAN.
The supporting association, the "German Social Insurance – Working Group Europe e.V.", which was founded in 1993, and its annual members' meeting and the European Coordinating Committee (EKA) serving as its executive body, constitute the basis for the work of the DSV. The resolutions adopted and political objectives agreed by these bodies are implemented in practice by a team of seven at the liaison office (the European Representation).
What are the tasks of the European Representation?
The activities of the political liaison office of the German Social Insurance in Brussels and the issues that it addresses are wide-ranging. Topical examples include the standardization of health and social services, Work 4.0, digital health and nursing care, and the European Pillar of Social Rights. Networks are crucial in order for influence to be brought to bear at European level. The DSV's office is therefore perfectly situated in the European Quarter, very close to the European Parliament and numerous other associations and institutions. The building is also home to the ESIP, the European Social Insurance Platform, of which the DSV is also a member. The membership of the ESIP comprises 40 national organizations for social security from 15 EU member states.
The European Representation takes action whenever the interests of the German Social Insurance are to be represented with respect to the European Union, particularly during the creation of legislation, or in the monitoring of other initiatives. The DSV's network enables allies at European level to be found swiftly in specific areas. Resulting position statements submitted jointly are viewed favourably by the institutions of the EU.
This was also the case regarding the standardization of health services. The umbrella associations of the German Social Insurance drew up a position statement (pdf) on this subject in which they called upon the European Commission and the European and national standards institutes to cease work on the standardization of health and social services. In addition, the DSV was involved in producing a joint position statement by the ESIP, and exerts influence upon the Healthcare Services Focus Group of the European Standardization Committee (CEN), in which ESIP has observer status. Events held by the DSV have the purpose of facilitating discussion with a range of players, such as the European Commission and the European Parliament.
The European Representation closely monitors emerging topics at EU level. A current example is the proposal for an EU regulation governing the creation of a single digital gateway to information, services and procedures of retirement pensions and health insurance institutions and to the registration and tax authorities of the EU member states. This "stargate" would greatly assist citizens moving from one EU member state to another. In practice however, a number of hurdles must first be overcome. For example, the various administrations are not yet networked as closely as would be necessary.
Where the national social insurance institutions have questions concerning European topics, they can then direct them to the European Representation. The European Representation also keeps the institutions up to date by means of an electronic newsletter and the ed* special focus bulletin.
KAN and DSV
KAN works closely with the European Representation, particularly with regard to the standardization of health services and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) (Position paper by the DGUV/DSV, KAN and CIOP-PIB: "Technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment methods within the TTIP: The issue of mutual recognition (pdf)"). It advises the European Representation on the subject of standards, and KAN and DSV draw up strategies and position statements together. In turn, the DSV is able, with its excellent networks, to provide KAN with access to channels for discussions in the EU's institutions. Since standardization bodies are increasingly taking up topics that impact upon the social insurance institutions, this cooperation is certain to be intensified in the future.