Ireland has negotiated Bilateral Social Security Agreements with 10 countries. The main purpose of these Agreements is to protect the pension rights of people who have worked and paid social security contributions in Ireland and the countries with which Ireland has such agreements. This is achieved by allowing reckonable social security contributions paid in one or more of these countries to be aggregated with Irish full-rate social insurance contributions for the purposes of qualifying for certain contributory payments in Ireland or in these countries. The Agreements also deal with the social security status of workers who are sent on temporary assignments from one country to the other.
The Bilateral Agreements with Austria and the Swiss Confederation have subsequently been superseded by the EU Regulations on the Coordination of Social Security Systems following Austria’s accession to the EU and the application of those Regulations to the Swiss Confederation.
The EU provides common rules to protect social security rights when a person moves within the EU, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. There are four main principles involved in these rules –
1. A person can only be covered by the legislation of one country at a time, so that they are required only to pay contributions in one country.
2. Persons moving from one EU country to another have the same rights and obligations as nationals of the country that they moves to (known as the principle of equal treatment or non-discrimination).
3. In the case of persons who have moved from one EU country to another and who claim a benefit, their previous periods of insurance, work or residence in other countries are taken into account if necessary (known as the principle of aggregation).
4. Persons who are entitled to a cash benefit from one EU country may generally receive this benefit even if they are living in a different country (known as the principle of exportability).