WELFARE. You’re Doing It Right, Europe

court of justice

The European Court of Justice‘s landmark ruling on Tuesday has been dubbed by Prime Minister David Cameron as “simple common sense” and “a good step in the right direction.”

The ruling on “benefit tourism” came about because of an appeal by a 25-year-old Romanian woman, who had moved with her 5-year-old son to Germany to live with her sister. Eliazbeto Dano, who had been convicted in Romania of petty theft, has been applying for social benefits since her move in November 2010. She never had a job in Romania and although she has lived in Germany for the past four years, has not been employed there, either. She was receiving 150 pounds per month in child benefit payments and about 100 pounds per month in “maintenance” payments. She applied at the local job center twice to receive “basic provision” benefits as well in the amount of 300 pounds per month. The job center denied her application both times due to the fact that she refused to take jobs the center suggested to her, even though they found her perfectly capable of holding a job. She then made a court appeal and the case was referred to Luxembourg. The court there rejected her claim, saying she “had not really been looking for work.”

The European Court of Justice also said that “jobless EU migrants who move around the continent living off of state handouts have no right to move to another country if they cannot support themselves,” adding that

“free movement rights are dependent on migrants not being an ‘unreasonable burden’ on the host country’s social security system.”

They declared in a statement: “A member state must have the possibility of refusing to grant benefits to economically inactive Union citizens who exercise their right to freedom of movement solely in order to obtain another member state’s social assistance although they do not have sufficient resources to claim a right of residence. EU migrants who come to Britain are banned from claiming jobseekers’ allowance for the first three months they are here. For the subsequent six months they are allowed to claim, if they can prove they are actively looking for work – although this is to be reduced to three months. After that, they must produce compelling evidence they are going to get work or they can be refused benefits.”

Labour backed the ruling, stating that

“only people who contribute to the economy should be able to fall back on the welfare state.”

Prime Minster Cameron said of the ruling in a statement: “As I’ve said, the right to live and work in another country should not be an unqualified right; there should be rules about restricting benefits and this is good news.”

Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith also agreed with the ruling.

“This is an excellent ruling and supports our view that people coming to the UK who don’t have sufficient resources to support themselves and would become an unreasonable burden should not be able to access national welfare systems,”

he said.