EU lawyer: unemployed migrants not entitled to social benefits

EU lawyer: unemployed migrants not entitled to social benefits

[JURIST] A top EU legal adviser stated [opinion] on Thursday that unemployed EU migrants are not automatically entitled to social benefits during their first three months in a different EU country. The recommendation came from the advocate general of the Court of Justice [official website]. Germany had asked the court to review the case of a Spanish man who had arrived in Germany with his son in June 2012 and was denied benefits for the following August and September. Advocate General Melchior Wathelet stated, “EU citizens who move to a member state of which they are not nationals may be excluded from entitlement to certain social benefits during the first three months. … Since the member states cannot require EU citizens to have sufficient means of subsistence and personal medical cover for a three-month stay, it is legitimate not to require member states to be responsible for them during that period.” However, he did note that an EU migrants who were actively seeking work within those three months could seek other benefits. The Advocate General’s opinion is non-binding, but the court generally rules according to his findings.

Immigration reform has been a major political concern in a number of countries throughout the globe. In November UK Prime Minister David Cameron raised the possibility [JURIST report] of the UK leaving the EU if other member state leaders blocked plans to restrict access to welfare payments for migrants.The recommendation from Wathelet could help Britain in this particular situation. Also in November US President Barack Obama announced executive action [JURIST report] on immigration that would allow 4.7 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the US. In October 2014 UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants Francois Crepea urged [JURIST report] British authorities to reconsider their decision not to support search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. In September the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered [JURIST report] a detention center used to detain African migrants who had crossed illegally and were captured in the Negev Desert to close.