The decision of the court affirms that a national of another Member State who moves to another national territory and remains there without any intention of seeking employment, can legitimately be excluded from social benefits. In addition, a Member State can legitimately deny social benefits to EU citizens who have arrived in their national territory with the intention of finding a job.
That being said, AG Wathelet suggested in his judgment that a EU citizen who had lived in host the Member State for more than three months and had been in employment there could not be automatically excluded from social benefits. Rather, the individual concerned must instead be afforded 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 decision is important in that it provides support for some of the recent changes British Government has imposed for EEA jobseekers. The amendment to regulation 6 of the EEA (Immigration) Regulations 2006, SI 2006/1003, illustrates that where the EEA national has been employed in the United Kingdom for less than one year, then the period that they can retain the ‘worker’ status is now limited to a maximum period of six months (reg 6(2)(ba)(2A)).
The Court could have adopted a more restrictive limit on the time someone could receive benefits along, say, the UK government’s more restrictive regime with regards to be benefits.
Its a more relaxed and helpful decision that one would have hoped for and perhaps has more wide ranging consequences.
Paul Turner is a highly regarded direct access immigration barrister and is the head of Imperium Chambers, Grays Inn Buildings, Grays Inn, he also practises from Mansfield Chambers, the Chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, 5 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1LG and a door tenant at 39 Park Square Leeds LS1 2NU and is licensed by the Bar Council to provide advice and representation directly to the public.