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  • Polly Lord

New ECJ Ruling On Benefit Tourism

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has today (11th November 2014) ruled that unemployed EU citizens who travel to another member state to claim benefits may be barred from some benefits.

The decision arose from a case from Germany, where a Romanian mother and her son travelled to Germany to claim non-contributory subsistence allowance. The court concluded that the defendant did not have sufficient resources to claim German residency and could therefore not claim that her exclusion from certain benefits was discriminatory. It said that the right of EU citizens to live and work in other member states did not stop states having legislation which excluded migrants from non-contributory benefits available to their own citizens.

The case could enable the United Kingdom to place some restrictions on immigration, such as removing unemployed migrants’ access to benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance. As Timothy Kirkhope, the party’s home affairs spokesman, said;

“[The ruling] will have wide-ranging implications for how the UK can tighten its welfare system to ensure only migrants that make a contribution can receive something back.”

The case comes following the UCL report released last week which stated that European migrants contributed £20billion to UK finances between 2000 and 2011. It also comes at a time when David Cameron is actively making political statements regarding curbing of migration. In response Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was reported as saying last week that the freedom of movement rules were non-negotiable.

It seems that, perhaps, the ECJ ruling provides one way forward for member states to have individualised migration policies within the overarching EU freedom of movement rules.

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