ECJ Judgment on EU migrants’ eligibility for benefits

This week, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling directly tackling the thorny issue of so-called ‘benefit tourism’, according to the Times.

In the case at hand, a Swedish family living in Germany were unable to prove that all working age members of the family had actually been active in the search for employment, prompting the German authorities to deny them social benefits, challenged by the Swedish family.

EU citizens are of course entitled to remain in another Member State for an unlimited duration, provided that they can show they will not become a burden on that state, and that they have comprehensive health insurance. This judgment instead aims to clarify the nature of those who move to another country searching for work.

It is worth stressing that those who find themselves involuntarily without work may still remain in the Member State to which they moved, however they must prove their search for work, identical to the situation of citizens of that Member State. Clearly therefore, the protections in place already on benefit tourism function well, as proved by the judgment.

This will feed into the wider discussions on renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s membership of the EU, but we should also remind ourselves that migration, in particular from the EU, contributes a vast amount to our economy and society, and we should not simply ignore or denigrate that contribution.

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