No right to freedom of movement for EU citizens who abuse the welfare benefits system

The Higher Administrative Court of Hesse issued a ruling on 5 March 2018 (case no: 9 B 56/19) withdrawing the right to free movement for European Union workers from a Bulgarian national. The Court issued this ruling because an overall assessment of the objective circumstances in her case led it to believe that she did not comply with the intent of the freedom of movement regulations, even though she formally met the conditions set out under EU law. The court came to this conclusion because the Bulgarian had acted with the intention of benefiting from EU law by arbitrarily meeting the prerequisites for freedom of movement as a worker in order to obtain additional social security benefits.

The EU law on the freedom of movement does not apply in the event of abusive practices. The Higher Court found such an abuse occurred in this case for the aforementioned reason. The court was of the opinion that the overall assessment of whether freedom of movement applies should not be limited to a formal assessment of the worker’s status but should also take all factors in the case into consideration.

The Higher Administrative Court of Hesse considered all the facts in the Bulgarian’s case and came to the following conclusion:

“The submission of amended employment contracts indicates that the petitioner only worked to the extent she thought it necessary to qualify under the right to free movement regulations. The respondent’s assumption that the petitioner’s claims to welfare benefits were unwarranted is also acceptable in light of the surrounding circumstances in her case. The petitioner knew from the start that she would claim welfare benefits in Germany because her Bulgarian pension in the amount of approximately € 100 euros would not cover her living expenses. Moreover, her family members living in Germany could not support her financially, and she neither spoke the language nor had the vocational skills for getting a job that would secure her livelihood.”

You can find out more in German about the removal of the right to free movement in the event of abusive practices.

Translated from German into English by Rosa Foyle