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EU Rights in the Spotlight – January

In December 2016, the European Court of Justice issued two important rulings on child benefits applicable to EU cross-border workers, both concerning Luxembourg.

In the first case, the Court ruled that by making the receipt of a study grant by a child of a frontier worker conditional upon a continuous period of five years of work in its country, Luxembourg had infringed EU law which prohibits unjustified discrimination. Concretely, the Court held that the condition of a continuous period of work of five years, which largely applies to foreign nationals, involves a restriction that goes beyond what is necessary in order to attain the objective pursued by Luxembourg to increase the number of persons holding a higher education degree in the population of Luxembourg.

In the second ruling, the Court held that the stepchild of a frontier worker is entitled to the same social advantages as a biological child would, provided that his stepfather contributes to their maintenance. In other words the Court granted that the parent-child relationship can also be considered from an economic and not only from a legal point of view.

Freedom of Establishment

In December, the EU Court also passed a judgment relevant to the freedom of establishment in a case concerning Greece. The Court ruled that EU law does not in principle prevent a Member State from opposing collective redundancies in certain circumstances, provided it is in the interests of the protection of workers and of employment. However, the legal criteria behind such a decision cannot be vague and imprecise in order to be compatible with the freedom of establishment and the freedom to conduct business in the EU.

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