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Trojani v Centre public d’aide sociale de Bruxelles (Case C-456/02)

Tuesday 7 December 2004, by Court of Justice of the European Communities

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EUROPEAN COMMUNITY - Social security - Free movement of persons - European Union citizen performing limited work in another member state where permitted to reside - Extent of entitlement to social assistance benefit - Arts 12, 18, 39 EC

ECJ: Trojani v Centre public d’aide sociale de Bruxelles (Case C-456/02)

President Skouris, Judges Jann, Timmermans, Gulmann, Puissochet, Cunha Rodrigues, Schintgen, Macken, Colneric, von Bahr and Lenaerts: 7 September 2004

A national of a member state of the European Union who had a permit to reside in another member state could rely on art 12 EC, prohibiting discrimination on grounds of nationality, in establishing entitlement to a social assistance benefit in the latter state. The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Communities so held, inter alia, on a reference for a preliminary ruling by the Tribunal du travail de Bruxelles, Belgium.

The claimant, a French national, lived in Belgium at a Salvation Army hostel for which, in return for board and lodging and some pocket money, he did various jobs for about 30 hours a week as part of a personal socio-occupational reintegration programme. He applied for the Belgian minimex, a minimum subsistence allowance for persons with inadequate resources, but was refused on the ground that he did not satisfy the conditions of eligibility that he was either of Belgian nationality or a worker in the meaning of Council Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 on freedom of movement for workers. In proceedings by the claimant, a preliminary ruling was sought on whether he could claim a right of residence as a worker, under art 39 EC on freedom of movement for workers, or other provisions of Community law.

THE COURT said that it was clear from the facts that two necessary elements of any paid employment relationship, subordination and the payment of remuneration, were made out. If, in a case of a person such as the claimant, it was also found that two further essential elements, namely that the paid activity was real and genuine, were also established, the person could claim a right of residence as a worker under art 39 EC, para (3)(c) of which provided that that freedom entailed the right to stay in a member state for the purpose of employment. Even if art 39 did not avail him, he might, as a citizen of the European Union, enjoy a right of residence by direct application of art 18(1) EC, subject to the limitations and conditions there referred to (which however had to be applied in conformity with Community law and in particular the principle of proportionality), which could include a condition that the person had sufficient resources to avoid becoming a burden on the host state’s social security system. However, in the present case, as the court had been informed, the claimant had latterly been granted a residence permit by the authorities in Brussels. A Union citizen who was not economically active could rely on the equal treatment principle in art 12 EC if he was lawfully resident in the host state. National legislation such as that in issue, which withheld a social assistance benefit to a Union citizen such as the claimant who was residing lawfully in the host state, constituted discrimination on grounds of nationality prohibited by art 12 EC, and such a person could rely on art 12 in order to be granted a benefit such as the minimex.

Text of judgment available at :

http://europa.eu.int/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=en&numdoc=62002J0456

(source summary : http://www.lawreports.co.uk/ecjsepe0.1.htm)


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