Cyprus and Bulgaria sign bilateral agreement on social security
In June 2006, Cyprus and Bulgaria signed a bipartite agreement on social security, aimed at providing social protection for people lawfully engaging in paid employment in either of the two EU Member States. The agreement is expected to come into force in the near future.
On 6 June 2006, a bipartite agreement on social security was signed by Cyprus and Bulgaria. The agreement aims to provide social protection for people legally employed in a gainful occupation in one of the contracting countries. Published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cyprus (No. 4068) on 23 June 2006, the agreement was signed on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus by the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Christos Taliadoros, and on behalf of the Republic of Bulgaria by the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ivailo Georgiev Kalfin.
Provisions for Cyprus
In relation to Cyprus, according to article 2(1)(a), the agreement applies to the provisions of the laws on social insurance passed between 1980 and 2005, with reference to the following benefits:
- maternity benefit;
- sickness benefit;
- occupational illness benefits;
- old-age pension;
- disability pension;
- widow’s/widower’s pension;
- orphan’s allowance;
- funeral grant.
Provisions for Bulgaria
Similarly, according to article 2(1)(b), the agreement refers to the provisions of Bulgarian legislation in the field of state social security cover with regard to the following benefits:
- maternity benefit;
- benefit due to temporary incapacity to work;
- pension for incapacity due to an industrial accident and/or occupational disease;
- pension during period of insurance and old-age pension;
- pension for incapacity due to general disease;
- inherited pensions;
- funeral grant.
Implications for both countries
According to paragraph 2 of the same article (2), the agreement also applies to any legislation abolishing, replacing, amending, supplementing or unifying the legislation described in paragraph 1 above. According to paragraph 3, the agreement does not affect any other social insurance agreement which either of the contracting states has concluded with a third state or any legislation implementing such an agreement.
As regards the scope of the agreement, article 3(a) stipulates that the agreement covers the citizens of each contracting state who are or have been subject to the legislation of either or both of the contracting states. According to article 3(b), the agreement also applies to other persons in relation to other rights emanating from the rights of individuals set out in article 3(a).
Objectives of agreement
Overall, according to the Cypriot Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (Υπουργείου Εργασίας και Κοινωνικών Ασφαλίσεων, MLSI), this agreement will coordinate the social insurance systems of the two countries, in relation to the following aspects:
- equal treatment for citizens of both countries regarding social insurance cover, on the basis of their national legislation;
- regulation of the insurance arrangements of people moving between the two countries for work purposes;
- elimination of any restrictions on payment of benefits to eligible citizens of one country who are residing in the other country;
- establishment of the right to benefits by people who are insured in both countries, by combining the period of insurance.
Apart from the social benefits for citizens of both countries that may ensue from the implementation of this agreement, the ministry also believes that the agreement will contribute to establishing close relations between the two countries, culminating in Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union as an official Member State.
It should be noted that the agreement will come into effect on the first day of the third month after the ratification papers have been exchanged, a procedure that is expected to be put in place soon.
Evangelia Soumeli, Cyprus Labour Institute (INEK-PEO)