26th Oct 2016

EU court: Countries are entitled to reject benefit claims

  • EU citizens staying more than three months in another EU state need to have "sufficient resources" or go home (Photo: snorski)

Countries can reject benefit claims by citizens of other EU countries if they are engaging in 'social tourism', the advocate general of the European Court of Justice said Tuesday (20 May) in an opinion likely to be replicated in a final ruling.

Germany may refuse "social security benefits for jobseekers who are in need of assistance" if the persons claiming them went to Germany solely in order to obtain those benefits, according to Advocate General Wathelet.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The case was filed by a Romanian citizen who gave birth to a child during her stay in Leipzig. She received child benefits, but was rejected by the local authorities when she filed for unemployment benefits, as she was not actively seeking a job and had no professional qualifications.

The ECJ lawyer noted that EU law authorises EU citizens and their family members to reside in another member state for a period of three months.

"Where such persons wish to remain for more than three months, they must have sufficient resources in order not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host member state," the legal opinion reads.

Germany has the right to demand that welfare applicants demonstrate a "genuine link" as well as efforts to integrate in Germany in order to prevent social benefits abuse.

"The Advocate General takes the view that the criterion chosen appears to be proportionate to the objective pursued," the opinion concludes.

The court still has to make a final judgement but it normally follows the advice of an advocate general.

Meanwhile, the German government is planning to strengthen measures against welfare tourism, as fresh OECD data show that Germany has become the world's second most popular destination for immigrants after the United States.

According to a draft bill seen by Reuters, people who abuse the welfare system may be refused re-entry into German territory for up to five years. Giving false or misleading information to German authorities could lead to fines or prison sentences.

Child benefits will also be restricted to people who have a German tax number, according to the draft, which should be approved by the German cabinet in June.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion