CJEU Case C-709/20 | The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland

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Information Guide concerning Case C-709/20 from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which relates to the right of residence and discrimination based on nationality affecting citizens of the European Union (EU).

Further information:

An EU citizen was granted pre-settled status in the United Kingdom (UK) in June 2020 in the framework the EU Settlement Scheme. In the same month, the citizen's application for Universal Credit was refused by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland (NI). The citizen argues that the refusal to grant her social assistance constitutes different treatment by comparison with British citizens and therefore discrimination on the ground on nationality, considering the granting of a right of residence.

Hearing the case, the Appeal Tribunal for Northern Ireland referred a set of questions to the CJEU seeking to ascertain whether there is direct or indirect discrimination, for the purposes of Article 18 TFEU (non-discrimination and citizenship of the EU), as a result of the exclusion of certain Union citizens residing in the UK from social benefits owing to the nature of the right of residence granted to them on the basis of national law.

The Court's Advocate General issued an opinion concerning this case on 24 June 2021. On 15 July 2021, the Court decided that the UK legislation on Universal Credit is compatible with the principle of equal treatment as laid down in Directive 2004/38/EC. However, the judgment also highlights that competent national authorities must check that a refusal to grant such social assistance does not expose the EU citizen and children to a risk of infringement of their rights enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, in particular the respect for human dignity.

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
University of York: EU Rights and Brexit Hub: Blog, 22/04/2021: The UK has lobbed a farewell grenade at the EU: the ramifications of CG v Department for Communities https://www.eurightshub.york.ac.uk/blog/75bycrh9t4tukxjjue16dcgzyeg0hg
Law Centre NI: News, 23/06/2021: European court to 'rule' over benefits access for UK-based EU citizens https://www.lawcentreni.org/news/european-court-to-rule-over-benefits-access-for-uk-based-eu-citizens
Garden Court North Chambers, 01/07/2021: The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will give judgment in CG v Department for Communities (C-709/20) on 15 July 2021 https://www.gcnchambers.co.uk/the-grand-chamber-of-the-court-of-justice-of-the-european-union-cjeu-will-give-judgment-in-cg-v-department-for-communities-c-709-20-on-15-july-2021/
FreeMovement.org: Cases, 16/07/2021: Denying benefits to EU pre-settled status holders justified if no fundamental rights breached https://www.freemovement.org.uk/denying-benefits-to-eu-pre-settled-status-holders-justified-if-no-fundamental-rights-breached/

Courthouse News Service, 24/06/2021: UK Can’t Deny Social Assistance to EU Citizen, Magistrate Says https://www.courthousenews.com/uk-cant-refuse-social-assistance-to-eu-citizen-magistrate-says/
Law Society Gazette, 24/06/2021: CJEU issues opinion in UK discrimination case https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/top-stories/cjeu-issues-opinion-in-uk-discrimination-case/

CJEU CURIA: Case C-709/20 | The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland https://curia.europa.eu/juris/documents.jsf?num=C-709/20
CJEU: Press Release No 115/21, 24/06/2021: Advocate General’s Opinion in Case C-709/20 The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-06/cp210115en.pdf
CJEU: Press Release No 133/21, 15/07/2021: Judgment in Case C-709/20 The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-07/cp210133en.pdf

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