25 August 2019
Illegal migrants prepare food outside their makeshift tents in the northeastern French port of Calais. Photo: AFP
Illegal migrants prepare food outside their makeshift tents in the northeastern French port of Calais. Photo: AFP

Jobless migrants can be banned from claiming handouts: EU court

European Union member states can ban jobless migrants who move to their country just to claim benefits, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

Setting a precedent for the rest of the continent, the court said Germany was right to deny an unemployed Romanian woman a particular allowance because she showed no sign of seeking work, BBC News reported.

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the ruling, describing it as “simple common sense”.

He said the judgement was a “good step in the right direction”, indicating that he will continue to seek an overhaul of the benefit laws in Europe, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Germany’s Manfred Weber, the leader of the main conservative group in the European Parliament, told the Associated Press that the decision proved EU countries could “avoid social benefits tourism without violating the free movement of citizens”.

“It sends a clear signal to the member states and to the British prime minister in particular,” Weber was quoted as saying.

The ruling only relates to non-contributory benefits, where the claimant does not make a contribution through the tax system, the BBC said.

The defendant in the court case, Elisabeta Dano, already receives child benefit in Germany.

But the European court agreed that she could be denied access to a subsistence allowance available to jobseekers because she isn’t actively seeking work.

The court also said Dano and her son could not claim a right of residence in Germany because they do not have sufficient resources to support themselves.

There was no discrimination involved in denying a citizen from another EU country access to a non-contributory benefit which is available to German citizens, according to the ruling.

The court said there are safeguards in the EU rules to “prevent economically inactive Union citizens from using the host member state’s welfare system to fund their means of subsistence”.

The European Commission has said that freedom of movement is about the right of circulation, not about an unrestricted right to claim benefits.

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