|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.38, 18.10.01, p9|
A RULING by the European Court of Justice over the rights of foreign workers to claim welfare benefits is being seen as a major setback for member states.
Germany had contested the claims of five refugee families, four from Lebanon and one from Algeria, even though they had legal-residency status.
The families argued they were entitled to the payments under a European law which states that refugees should be treated equally to EU citizens when it comes to social security rights.
The German federal social court, Bundessozialgericht, had questioned whether ministers went beyond their remit when they approved the 1971 law. It argued that the social security articles in the treaties govern Union citizens only and cannot be extended to so-called third country nationals.
The Court of Justice in Luxembourg dismissed this argument, but said Germany was still not obliged to pay the refugees because the case was a purely national one without cross-border implications.
Nevertheless, the decision will be a setback for the UK, Ireland and Denmark, who were hoping to use the same argument to block current Commission proposals to give extensive social security rights to foreign workers in the EU.
Social affairs chief Anna Diamantopoulou wants all third country nationals, and not just refugees, to be given the same guarantees as EU citizens that they will not lose social security benefits when they move around the bloc. "If we are talking about third country nationals who are already allowed to live and work in the community it is normal that these people should be given the same rights as people with an EU passport," said Andrew Fielding, spokesman for Diamantopoulou.
By ruling that ministers did not go beyond their powers in 1971 the court has made it difficult for the UK, Ireland and Denmark to resist signing up to the proposals.
A ruling by the European Court of Justice over the rights of foreign workers to claim welfare benefits is being seen as a major setback for Member States.
|Subject Categories||Employment and Social Affairs, Justice and Home Affairs, Law|