In February 2016, the European Court of Justice (EJC) issued two important rulings, both of which having implications for those who make use of their right to free movement in the EU.
The first ruling on February 4, 2016 concerns a case brought to the Court by the Supreme Court of Spain and the UK’s Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) with concern to the refusal of residence permits to two third-country nationals who had the custody of minor children holding the EU citizenship due to their criminal records. The Court ruled that according to the Citizenship Directive 2004/38/EC, a non-EU national ‘having sole care and control of a minor who is a citizen of the EU may not be automatically expelled from a Member State or be refused a residence permit solely because he has a criminal record’.
The second judgment of February 25, 2016 concerns a case brought to the Court by the Higher Social Court of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) on the grounds of certain social benefits being refused to EU citizens when moving to another Member State. The Court confirmed that EU citizens may, in fact, be refused certain social benefits during their first three months of residence in another Member State ‘in order to maintain the financial equilibrium of the national social assistance systems’, as the host Member Stat cannot require them to have sufficient means of subsistence and personal medical cover for that period.
In the first case, the dispute concerned two third-country nationals: Mr Rendon Marin, the father and sole guardian of a son of Spanish nationality and a daughter of Polish nationality, who was refused a residence permit due to his criminal record; and CS, the mother a son of British nationality who lives with her in the UK and of whom she has sole care and control, who was served with a deportation order.
In the second case brought to the Court, the dispute was between a Spanish family and a German employment centre. Under German legislation, the employment centre denied Mr Joel Pena Cuevas and his son subsistence benefits during their first three months of residence in Germany.
The Court’s decision to confirm that nationals of other Member States may be refused certain benefits in their first three months of residence is based on the Citizenship Directed, which provides that Member States may refuse citizens any social assistance during the first three months of residence due to a need to maintain the financial equilibrium of their social assistance systems. According to the Court, refusals of this type do not presuppose an individual assessment of the situation of the person concerned.