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Vestische Arbeit Jobcenter Kreis Recklinghausen v. Jovanna García-Nieto and Others - (25 Feb 2016)

ECJ ruling to curb “welfare tourism”

Human Rights

The European Court of Justice confirmed that a Member State of the European Union may exclude nationals of other Member States from certain social benefits, such as jobseekers allowance, and children’s benefits during the first three months of residence.

In the instant case, a Spanish family had relocated to Germany in the hopes of finding employment. Finding only nominal work in the country, the family applied for subsistence benefits within three months of moving. Their application was refused for not meeting the minimum residency criteria and none in the family having the status of a worker or self-employed person, reliant almost entirely on the Employment Centre. Hearing the matter, a ‘Higher Social Court’ in Germany referred the matter to the European Court of Justice. Specifically, it raised questions about the principle of equal treatment under Article 4 of Regulation 883/2004 of the EU and exclusions under Article 70. The Court held that national legislation could exclude citizens of other Member States from deriving benefit to certain ‘special non-contributory cash benefits’. Qualifications to being able to receive such benefits, such as having the status of a worker or self-employed person, could not be prevented from being imposed.


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