Introductory Note by the Secretary General of EISS, Prof. Danny Pieters

Public-private partnership in statutory social security

The administration of statutory social security schemes is in most countries in the hands of public or semi-public administrations. However, especially in the last decades, we see also private, non-profit or commercial, organisations called upon to play a role in the administration of the statutory social security. A public-private partnership emerges in this way also in the area of social security. This year’s conference will focus on this public-private partnership.

At a first level, the very relationship between the public authorities and the private actors will be examined. How to make sure that the public interests, characterizing statutory social security, are protected in a modern welfare state? What are the constitutional limits set to public-private partnerships in social security? These, somehow theoretical issues, will lay the floor for the further topics to be discussed. Indeed, once the public interests at stake in social security are highlighted it can then be explored whether and how these can best be served by private actors.

In a second group of interventions, the current practice of public-private partnerships in the coverage of social risks, such as pensions, labour accident schemes and unemployment insurance will be highlighted. The issues to be tackled include amongst others the following: What is the responsibility of both the public hand and the private actors, when part of the compulsory pension schemes consist of capitalized pensions, managed by private, sometimes, commercial actors? What are the implications of the present crisis on these responsibilities? What is the specific role of private insurers when providing coverage against the labour accident risk? Why do we see, especially in this area, private actors active already since many decades? What can we learn of it? Can public unemployment insurance schemes and labor mediation organizations profit from the experience of private temporary work agencies?

The very specific issues related to public-private relations in the area of health care will be addressed in the third session, combining a legal and an economic perspective. Social health care, whether it operates as social insurance or as a national health service, usually has some involvement of the private sector. This may be private doctors or hospitals; this may also be private health care insurers. Also the division between the basic health care package and the optional supplementary health care, may call for questions related to public-private relationships.

After having had the opportunity to listen to the testimonies of some young researchers about their academic work, the audience will be confronted with some public-private partnership case studies in Greece and Spain. Finally, the public-private interplay when introducing and developing IT in social security administrations will be highlighted.



Statutory social security schemes in European Union face the challenge of collaboration with private profit or non profit legal entities. The main legal issues related to Public Private Partnerships are the following:
• The notion of PPP’s
• The constitutional limits for PPP’s
• The conditions, requirements, forms and extent of PPP’s
• The control of the private entities that collaborate with the public schemes
• The guarantee of fulfillment of the social aim of statutory social security schemes e.g. by the introduction of a special regime

Such issues are not subject to harmonized rules since social security falls within the competence of the Member States and therefore is shaped according to their regulations, legal traditions, concepts and prevailing ideas. The general discussion on PPP’s during the conference will reflect the different national approaches, an approach which is of great interest, since all european statutory social security schemes have gradually adopted similar organisational structures and try to respond to similar problems, such as the demographic decline, the international financial crisis etc.

The conference will study in depth the PPP’s and will examine the relevant possibilities and perspectives according to the legislation, the jurisprudence, the administrative experience of EU Member States.

The analysis will focus in each social security branch (pensions, health insurance, etc.) Especially regarding the health insurance branch there will be an economic and legal analysis. In all Member States, regardless whether a national health service is in function or not, PPP’s have been established since many years between private doctors, hospitals, diagnostic – medical centers. Therefore in the branch of health insurance there is already a wide experience from the collaboration with the private sector.

The conference will end its works with the presentation of the work of young researchers and existing examples of public private partnerships in Europe.

We are convinced hope that the conference will allow for fruitful discussions regarding PPP’s and the emerging trends in statutory social security in Europe. From our part, we are looking forward to welcoming you in Athens

With best Regards

Professor Xenophon Contiades
Professor Konstantinos Kremalis
Ass. Professor Patrina Paparrigopoulos