EU court: Germany entitled to cut benefits to Swedish family

AP News
Posted: Sep 15, 2015 6:48 AM

BERLIN (AP) — A European Union court ruled Tuesday that Germany was entitled to cut off unemployment benefits to a Swedish family that came to the country to find work but only held temporary jobs for a short time.

There has been mounting concern in EU countries, particularly Britain, about perceived abuse of workers' freedom of movement with the 28-nation bloc and of welfare systems. The decision by the European Court of Justice followed its ruling last year that Germany was within its rights to refuse jobless benefits to a Romanian immigrant who made no effort to seek work.

In the latest case, a Bosnian-born Swedish national and her three children — who were born in Germany during a previous stay there that ended in 1999 — returned to Germany in mid-2010. The mother and eldest daughter worked in several temporary jobs lasting less than a year and didn't work after that, a court statement said.

From December 2011 to May 2012, the family received benefits for the long-term unemployed and their dependents, until a Berlin job center cut off the payments. It argued that they weren't entitled to the benefits "as foreign jobseekers whose right of residence arose solely out of the search for employment."

The European court ruled that denying citizens of other EU countries some welfare benefits when their right of residence arises only from seeking jobs "does not contravene the principle of equal treatment."

It said that countries can refuse such benefits to other EU nationals who haven't yet worked there or who have worked for under a year and then been unemployed and registered as a job-seeker for more than six months.