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CJEU Gives Further Clarification on Benefit Entitlement

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has recently given further clarification on the right of immigrants to certain non-contributory social security benefits.

The question was referred to the CJEU by the German courts. In Germany, foreigners who come to the country to obtain social assistance or whose right of residence arises solely out of a search for employment are excluded from entitlement to German benefits by way of basic provision.

The CJEU recently held that that such exclusion is lawful in the case of Member State nationals who go to another Member State with no intention of finding employment there.

In a new case, the German Courts have asked whether such exclusion is also lawful when it involves Union citizens who have gone to a host Member State to search for employment and have already worked for a period in that State, where those benefits are granted to nationals of the host Member State who are in the same situation.

The issue arose in proceedings between a German jobcentre and four Swedish nationals: a mother, who was born in Bosnia, and her three children, who were born in Germany. The family left Germany in 1999 for Sweden and returned to Germany in 2010. The mother and eldest child worked in several temporary jobs lasting less than a year, but have not worked since then.

The family received basic benefits for a time, but these ceased in 2012 as the jobcentre took the view that they were excluded from entitlement to these allowances as foreign jobseekers whose right of residence arose solely out the search for employment.

The CJEU has now held that denying Union citizens whose right of residence in the territory of a host Member State arises solely out of the search for employment entitlement to certain special non-contributory cash benefits’, which also constitute ‘social assistance’, does not contravene the principle of equal treatment.

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