The EU Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that EU Member States were not required to grant social benefits to citizens from other Member States who come to their country in order to receive social assistance. The accusations relating to the abuse of the free movement principle between Member States of the European Union, renamed “social tourism”, contributed to a surge in Europhobic groups campaigning for immigration to be limited.
In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron, under pressure from the anti-European group Ukip, announced that he wanted to limit immigration from other EU countries, regardless of the principle of free movement for persons. This provoked the wrath of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and of the British business community.
On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice ruled that an EU citizen of a Member State migrating to another Member State could only receive social benefits if his or her stay was in line with the EU directive on free movement. “One of the conditions (…) for a residency permit is that the economically inactive person must have sufficient personal resources,” it was decided.
According to the Court, the directive seeks to prevent inactive EU citizens from using the welfare system of the host Member State to finance their livelihoods. Ruling on a case brought by Germany, the Court judged that it was up to each Member State to decide whether to grant these benefits or not.
Oscar Schneider (Source: Belga)