Health Care – A Right without Borders also for the Elderly. A Study of the EU Law and the Free Movement of Elderly

Project: Dissertation

Project Details


My research project is part of the research environment on Elder Law within the Norma Research Programme.
The main aim of my research project is to examine the right to free movement of the elderly migrants and their access to health care in cases when they are making use of their right to free movement, either by (I) moving permanently to another Member State changing residence, by (II) temporary staying in another Member State or by (III) seeking health care in another Member State. These three situations constitute the starting point when the right to health care in a European context is being described and analyzed.
Demographic change is transforming the population structure of the European Union. The global demographic trend is an ageing population in combination with low birth rates. The population aged 65 and older will increase significantly. A shrinking workforce has to handle increasing health care needs for the elderly. In EU a change in the so-called depending ratio from having four working-age people for every person aged 65 years to two working-age persons is to be foreseen. This challenges the European national social security systems and in particular the health care systems.
According to Article 168.7 TFEU, Member States´ responsibilities include health management and allocation of the resources assigned to them. Member States have traditionally seen health care as an area "free" from EU law. Nevertheless, EU has introduced seconadary legislation regarding cross-border health care, in the form of the legisaltion on coordination of social security benefits (Regulation 883/2004) and in form of the newly adopted Directive on cross-border health care (Directive 2011/24/EU). In 1998, the Court of Justice of the European Union deceided to extend the scope of health care integration under the free movement of services (see eg. C-159/96 Kohll and C-120/95 Decker).
At the same time as the national health care systems are more and more restraint, we can see a change allowing free movement of all EU nationals throughout the Union. An increasing part of non-economically active citizens is travelling to other Member States for reasons other than excercising economic activities. Still, however, the movement of non-economically active citizens is in certain ways limited. Here, both insufficient pensions and health care costs among the elderly are key issues. But also the European citizenship and the right to free movement are central concepts when the right to cross-border health care is being examined.
The research project highlights the tension between on the one hand the guarantee of free movement and on the other hand the autonomy of the Member State and their right to organize their health care systems. To which extent may the Member State limit the right of elderly to receive health care in situations when they are making use of their right to free movement? Ultimately, the resesarch project is about the freedom of movement as such for elderly union citizens that typically threaten to burden the health care system in the country of residence.

Add Work

Jump to Category

Effective start/end date2012/10/012020/05/15

UKÄ subject classification

  • Law (excluding Law and Society)

Free keywords

  • EU Law
  • Elder Law
  • Health Law
  • Social Security Law
  • CASE - Centre for Ageing and Supportive Environments