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EU Rights in the Spotlight

On 11 November, the European Court of Justice delivered an important judgement (Dano case) concerning access to social benefits by economically inactive EU citizens. This judgement could have an important impact in deterring people from benefit tourism.

The decision in the case C-333/13 Elisabeta Dano and Florin Dano v. Jobcenter Leipzig was delivered on the 11th of November 2014 by the European Court of Justice.

Mrs. Dano entered Germany in 2009 and had her son, Florin, there. Mrs. Dano was not a jobseeker when she entered the country. She has no job experience either in Germany or in Romania. She currently resides with her sister in Leipzig. Her sister provides for both her and her son. She was denied child allowance by the Leipzig Jobcenter as she was not a jobseeker. Mrs. Dano sued the Leipzig Jobcenter for denying her the child allowance (special non-contributory benefit).

According to German Law, foreign citizens are excluded from social benefits (Grundsicherung für Arbeitsuchende) when they enter Germany for the sole purpose of receiving social benefits.

The Leipzig Jobcenter addressed the European Court of Justice to clarify whether its decision was correct in accordance with Directive 2004/38.

The Court held that indeed the decision of the Leipzig Jobcenter to withhold the child allowance from Mrs. Dano was correct and in accordance with the Directive. The ECJ considered that when the period of residence is longer than 3 months, but less than five years, the right of residence is directly correlated to the self-sufficiency of the “economically inactive persons”. This is considered an important measure to deter people from benefit tourism.

The Court goes further and states that when Member States implement special non-contributory benefits which are not influenced by EU law, those benefits are not under the influence of the Charter of Fundamental Rights either.

Therefore the Court found that Mrs. Dano and her son do not meet the standards included in the directive and therefore cannot claim the special non-contributory benefits.

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