Family and children

ECJ ruling: unemployed people are entitled to child benefit for offspring in other EU countries

ECJ ruling: unemployed people are entitled to child benefit for offspring in other EU countries.  According to EU law, family benefits are also to be paid in full for relatives residing in other EU countries.

Luxembourg (dpa) – EU citizens with children in other EU countries are entitled to child benefit in the country in which they live, even if they are unemployed. That was decided by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The judges said that family benefits for children in another Member State could not be made dependent on the person entitled to work. In Germany, this already applies, as the Federal Employment Agency explained. After the judgment, nothing will change in this country.

Specifically, it was about the case of a Romanian living in Ireland. The man, whose two children live in Romania, has no child benefit after being unemployed for a year. He had previously worked in Ireland for six years. The man appealed against the decision of the authorities to the Irish High Court. The judges asked the ECJ to interpret EU law.

In the judgment, the Court of Justice clearly stated that, under EU law, family benefits are also to be paid in full for relatives residing in other EU countries. The receipt of child benefit for EU citizens is not linked to an obligation to work.

The clarification of the ECJ was welcomed by the SPD and the Greens. The SPD MEP Michael Detjen called the decision groundbreaking. The Green politicians Franziska Brantner and Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn jointly declared: “The verdict shows: There are no second-class EU citizens, and that’s a good thing.”

EU legal expert Constanze Janda from the University of Speyer also commented that the decision takes into account the equal treatment of EU citizens. “This accomplishment is important to family livelihoods,” said Janda. “In the EU regulation that was checked here, it is regulated that you receive child benefit not only if you work in the responsible state, but also if you ‘only’ live there.” And this regulation must apply to everyone.

Nevertheless: The increasing child benefit payments abroad have been causing debate in Germany for some time. Critics would like the child benefit to be adjusted according to the Austrian model. There has recently been an indexation, i.e. an adjustment of the payments to the cost of living at the child’s place of residence. As a rule, this means a reduction in benefits. The EU Commission therefore wants to take Austria to the European Court of Justice.