Images courtesy of ONIESS.

Focus on results: ONIESS and the birth of state social security institutes in Mexico

The cooperation between SOCIEUX+ and the National Organization of State Institutions of the Social Security in Mexico (ONIESS) has been a long and strategic one. It is a case study of successful peer-to-peer dynamics, achieving its stated objectives at each phase while also building on previous achievements and adapting to fluctuating external variables.

This cooperation certainly owes much of its success to the proactive and inspired role of the Guanajuato State Institute for Social Security (ISSTEG; Instituto de Seguridad Social del Estado de Guanajuato) and the leadership of its two General Directors, who initiated and brought the ONIESS’ collaboration to maturity.

ONIESS is now a recognized platform for state social security institutes in the Mexican federation. Following its establishment in September 2017, 25 out of 32 states have become active members. The organization is endowed with a solid and effective governance mechanism and relies on member institutes to build common positions on a number of technical domains such as administration, pensions actuarial sustainability, services, investments, internal capacities, and so forth.

But in 2014, ONIESS wasn’t a term or even an idea. We proudly believe that the concept of ONIESS, its very idea, was born gradually thanks to the intense exchanges between European and Mexican peers that SOCIEUX+ facilitated in 2014 and 2015. This cooperation started with a request from ISSTEG to SOCIEUX+ on a very specific question: “ What are the sustainability perspectives for the State of Guanajuato’s pension funds, and how can the administration improve its funds by adopting internal investment policies and reflecting on the evolution of other pension systems in the Federation?” But, by the end of the last cooperative activity in 2015, ISSTEG had started to consider the suitability of a model of “open coordination” between different state social security systems, inspired by the EU Social Protection Committee model. Guanajuato was swift in sharing these fledgling concepts with like-minded social security institutes of other states in the Mexican federation, setting up an informal group of interested parties willing to “join forces” to improve and pursue common objectives. These two goals were realized in 2018, and translated into actions on individual and organisational capacity building of member state institutes, and a possible legislative framework for national social security that would contribute to shaping future reforms. In between 2015 and 2018, all participants remember the extraordinary meeting in San Francisco de Campeche in September 2017, generously hosted by the State Governor and the Social Security Institute of Campeche (ISSSTECAM; Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales del Estado de Campeche). On that occasion, 19 state institutes signed the declaration than established ONIESS. Its objectives well reflect the foundational ideas of the EU Social Protection Committee; in particular, promoting the cooperation, coordination and collaboration of its members, and the exchange of good practices. The last two SOCIEUX+ actions were deployed between the end of 2018 and 2020, and were supported by an ONIESS which had become a well-structured organisation with a large number of active members. These last actions targeted ambitious projects; to develop a framework for stimulating and accompanying the various Institutes to engage with organisational reforms and upgrade staff capacities, and to set a clear, shared perspective for Mexican social security, which could be used as a framework for dialogue between state institutes and federal authorities for reforms to social security.

Today, we stand beside ONIESS and its members as they endeavour to build more effective social protection systems. We would be honoured to contribute again to the organisation’s projects through cooperation with our European partners and experts in EU member states’ public administrations, to showcase the variety and depth of the European social security model and to uphold and strengthen ONIESS’ moves toward improved social security systems.

Gian Luca Portacolone
SOCIEUX+ Social Protection Coordinator