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CJEU: A Member State may exclude EU citizens from certain non-contributory social security benefits

Foreigners who go to Germany to obtain social assistance or whose right of residence arises solely out of a search for employment are excluded from entitlement to German benefits by way of basic provision (‘Grundsicherung’).1 In the judgment in Dano, 2 the Court of Justice recently held that such exclusion is lawful in the case of Member State nationals who go to another Member State with no intention of finding employment there.

In the present case, the Federal Social Court (Bundessozialgericht, Germany) seeks to ascertain whether such an exclusion is also lawful concerning Union citizens who have gone to a host Member State to search for employment and have already worked for a period in that State, where those benefits are granted to nationals of the host Member State who are in the same situation.

This question has arisen in proceedings between the Jobcenter Berlin Neukölln and four Swedish nationals: Ms Alimanovic, born in Bosnia, and her three children Sonita, Valentina and Valentino, born in Germany in 1994, 1998 and 1999 respectively. The Alimanovic family left Germany in 1999 for Sweden and returned to Germany in June 2010. Following their return, Nazifa Alimanovic and her eldest daughter Sonita worked in several temporary jobs lasting less than a year. Since then they have not been engaged in any occupational activity. The Alimanovic family was subsequently, during the period from 1 December 2011 to 31 May 2012, paid benefits by way of basic provision, namely subsistence allowances for the long-term unemployed (‘Arbeitslosengeld II’) payable to Nazifa Alimanovic and her daughter Sonita and social allowances for beneficiaries unfit to work for the children Valentina and Valentino. In 2012, the competent authority (Jobcenter Berlin Neukölln) finally ceased payment of the benefits; taking the view that Ms Alimanovic and her eldest daughter were excluded from entitlement to the allowances concerned as foreign jobseekers whose right of residence arose solely out of the search for employment. Consequently, that authority also excluded the other children from entitlement to the allowances pertaining to them.

In response to the questions referred by the German court, the Court has held, in its judgment delivered yesterday, that denying Union citizens whose right of residence in the territory of a host Member State arises solely out of the search for employment entitlement to certain ‘special noncontributory cash benefits’,3 which also constitute ‘social assistance’, 4 does not contravene the principle of equal treatment. 5 

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