A set of EU digital principles: social security & health insurers’ views

As a follow-up to the Digital Compass Communication of 9 March, the Commission launched a public consultation on the formulation of a set of EU digital principles. These principles would be integrated in a joint declaration of the main EU institutions. ESIP and its Members are committed to and involved in the digitalisation of social security and healthcare systems, with a view to increasing their sustainability and accessibility within and across borders.

In particular, ESIP is closely following the recent policy developments as regards the establishment of the European Health Data Space and ongoing projects such as the European Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI), as well as on the European Social Security Pass.

Some of the aspects included in the public consultation on a set of EU digital principles are of direct interest for social security institutions, therefore ESIP responses targeted in particular to the following areas:

  • Accessible and human-centric digital public services and administration

ESIP considers that the provision of digital education should be a priority to avoid the risk of excluding an increasing share of the population from accessing online services. It should also be provided as part of lifelong learning in a professional context. However, the risks that the digitalisation of working environments poses to work-life balance, by requiring workers to be available at all times, should be prevented.

  • Universal digital education and skills

When it comes to the specific online services provided by public administration, and in particular social security institutions, ESIP recognises that digitalisation can help improve the accessibility and availability of services. Social security institutions are in the process of adapting their IT infrastructure to facilitate the portability and interoperability of data, including through the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI). Yet, digitalisation does not eliminate the need to maintain face-to-face services, including for persons with limited digital skills.

  • Access to digital health services

Building on our 2019 position on Digital health, ESIP expresses its support for citizens’ access to inclusive and equitable digital health and care services as well as to their electronic health records. This should be coupled with investment in digital health literacy, minimum standards for telehealth equipment and, in parallel, reinforced community-based services. On personalised medicine, new digital technologies and health data should be harnessed to promote targeted risk-assessment and consequently foster the shift towards prevention.

  • A European digital identity

Digital identity is useful to allow insured persons to have secure access to online social security services. New tools might be needed in this field, specifically to verify insurance status abroad in a timely, secure and GDPR compliant manner. For instance, an EU system to strengthen recognition of national social security identifiers could be useful, with a high level of data reliability. It should be stressed that any EU tool should be developed in close cooperation with social security institutions.

  • Ethical principles for human-centric algorithms

ESIP supports a person-centered approach to the development of AI solutions and highlights the importance of avoiding skewed algorithm-based decisions and their impact on people. This is particularly relevant to the development of AI-enabled digital solutions applied to healthcare. To ensure a trustworthy and secure uptake of AI, mechanisms behind AI must be transparent and human oversight maintained.

  • Additional digital principles

ESIP suggests establishing common EU governance and infrastructure(s) for (sensitive) data exchange and placing the safeguarding of occupational health & safety and worker’s rights on an equal footing as fundamental and consumer rights.

Overall, ESIP stresses the importance of preserving a high level of data protection while implementing the above-listed services, in full compliance with the GDPR.

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