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EU Rights in the Spotlight – April

22 May 2020

This EU Rights in the Spotlight section features two European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings regarding the Freedom of Movement:

April 2nd 2020: Freedom of Movement of Persons

On April 2nd 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that reimbursement of school transportation costs should not be based on the condition that the recipient lives in the federal state where school is attended. The Court concluded that such a measure constitutes indirect discrimination, as it puts frontier workers at a disadvantage compared to workers living in that Member State. It also has a deterrent effect on free movement of persons, in that parents aware of the measure would be less likely to exercise such movement.

The ruling was based on a case of a German national who attends secondary school in a district in Germany, but lives in France with his German national parents; his mother works in Germany. In the school year 2015/2016, the German district refused to pay for the child’s school transport costs on the ground that regional law makes the district responsible only for school transport to students who live in the relevant German state.

More details can be viewed here.

The full text of the judgement can be viewed here.

April 2nd 2020: Freedom of Movement – Social Security

On April 2nd 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that Member States should provide family allowance to frontier workers not just for their own children, but also for the children of their spouse (from previous relationship) who they support, given that all children live in the Member State. The reason is that such an allowance constitutes a social advantage and is therefore subject to the principle of equal treatment.

The decision was based on a case of a Luxembourgian national who works in Luxembourg and lives in France with his wife. They have two children together, as well as a child from the wife’s previous marriage, over whom she has sole parental responsibility.

Until 2016, the couple benefited from Luxembourgian family allowances for all three of their children on account of the husband’s status as a frontier worker. Since 2016, however, the child of his wife was excluded from the definition of his ‘family members’, as the Luxembourg social security code no longer includes children of a spouse/partner as ‘family members’ and he has no child-parent relationship with the child himself.

The family brought proceedings before the Luxembourg Social Security Arbitration Board in order to challenge this decision by the social security authorities. The Board held that family benefits constituted a ‘social advantage’ under the EU Worker’s Rights regulation, and that they were benefits related to employment, as the husband had to be employed in Luxembourg to benefit from them.

The social security authorities challenged this finding on appeal, arguing before the Higher Social Security Board that these benefits were not a ‘social advantage’. The Higher Board has referred questions to the CJEU about the status of the family benefit under EU law, and as to whether the exclusion of the wife’s child from the benefit receipt is legal under EU law given that all children residing in Luxembourg (regardless of parent-child relationship to their ‘worker’ parent) are entitled to the benefit. The CJEU, in the current judgment, first considered if this family allowance was a ‘social advantage’. It found that as it was explicitly linked to the husband carrying out salaried employment in Luxembourg, it constituted a social advantage.

The full text of the judgement can be viewed here.