Benefits Tourism

The Court’s decision ‘is only fair’

The European Court of Justice ruled on 11 November that EU member states were not obliged to issue benefits to citizens of other states who enter their territory for the sole purpose of acquiring social assistance, in a decision particularly well-received by the European press.

Published on 12 November 2014 at 20:44

“The European Court of Justice sanctions ‘benefits tourism’,” headlines Les Echos, which explains the court was used in the case of a Romanian woman, Elisabeta Dano, “who has been living with her son and sister in Leipzig [in Germany] since 2010 and was refused a living stipend from a job centre”. The French daily adds —


The question of social tourism has been part of the European debate for nearly two years. Britain is primarily concerned, since it is one of the principal points of attack of [Prime Minister] David Cameron as he seeks to renegotiate the UK’s membership in the EU. But Germany, the Netherlands and Austria also have a recent history of critiquing European migrants taking advantage of their social systems. Belgium has already deported certain immigrants within the Union who, as job seekers, were considered an “unreasonable burden” on the country, a reason very similar to that invoked by the European Court of Justice.

Die Welt headlines “Authorities have the right to refuse Hartz IV to European citizens,” in a reference to Germany’s employment insurance system, and judges that the decision is “fair” —

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As before, European citizens have the right to look for work everywhere in Europe, and if they lose their job, they have the right to social assistance from the country in which they worked. This is only fair. What would be unfair, however, is if wealthy northern countries had to assume the role of the social services of the Union. The judges of the European Court of Justice have maintained this principle at the judicial level.

In Britain, The Daily Telegraph headlines “EU benefit tourists face being sent home.” The daily recalls the subject is at the heart of a political debate in the country —


The decision by the European Court of Justice represents a significant boost to David Cameron, who welcomed the ruling as a “good step in the right direction” and “simple common sense”. Mr Cameron has promised to introduce “proper” immigration curbs and get tough on benefit tourism ahead of a proposed referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

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