The Court of Justice in the European Union has issued a judgement today that an EU Member State may reserve the right to exclude nationals of other Member States from certain social and welfare orientated benefits during the first three months of residence in that particular state.

The current EU Citizenship Directive offers EU citizens the right to live in another Member State for a maximum of three months, without being legally obliged to undertake any formalities other than the standard requirement of holding valid identity documents. Today’s judgement could be seen as a possible solution to the perceived issue of “welfare tourism”, something that is a bone of contention between many governments and their electoral across the 28 state bloc. The Court of Justice however, was quick to establish the fact that such a refusal to offer subsistence does not presuppose an individual assessment of the person concerned.

Today’s ruling was a response to questions raised by the Higher Social Court in Germany with regards to a dispute between a Spanish family and a German employment centre. The North Rhine-Westphalia local authorities refused to pay any subsistence benefits to a father and son for the first three months of their residence in the country. Although the wife and mother was in full time employment during this time, the husband and son were not. Therefore, in principle and under the three month rule in German law, they were not entitled to any benefits. The Court of Justice asserted that this was in line with EU law and that the German authorities had the right to enforce it.

Full details on today’s ruling can be found here.