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Freedom of movement for workers: Alimanovic’s case

30 March 2015

A recent case at the Court of Justice of the EU, “Jobcenter Berlin Neukölln v Nazifa, Sonita, Valentina and Valentino Alimanovic (C-67/14)”, once again raises issues pertinent to free movement and social benefits. It calls upon the Court to decide whether a Member State can deny certain social benefits to an EU Migrant job-seeker who had worked there for less than a year but was now unemployed and looking for a job.

On 26 March 2015, Advocate General Melchior Wathelet gave his opinion on the case, suggesting that three situations be distinguished. Firstly, following the Court of Justice’s decision in the Dano case, a national of a Member State who moves to another national territory and stays there without the goal of seeking employment there, can legitimately be excluded from social benefits. Secondly, a Member State can legitimately deny these social benefits to EU citizens who have arrived in their national territory with the intention of finding a job. Thirdly, however, AG Wathelet opined that an EU citizen who had lived in the Member State for more than three months and had been employed there could not be automatically excluded from these social benefits. The person concerned must instead be allowed the opportunity to prove the existence of a “genuine link” with the host Member State, which would entitle him to access to these benefits. Family circumstances, as well as having sought employment for a reasonable period, can serve as evidence capable of demonstrating this link.

The exclusion from social assistance benefits established by German legislation is also not applicable to the Alimanovic case if it is shown that the Alimanovic children are “duly continuing their education within an establishment in Germany”. This would grant them and their primary carer a right of residence in the national territory based on their right of access to education. This in turn exempts them from the German exclusion from social benefits, which is only applicable to persons “whose right of residence arises solely out of the search for employment and their family members”.