European Union Citizenship: More Than Merely Financial Integration

By Adam M. Waite
2012, Vol. 4 No. 05 | pg. 2/2 |

In the case of Collins v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions19 the issue of indirect discrimination purely on the basis of nationality and Union Citizens ability to claim job-seeking allowance was further raised when an Irish national attempted to claim job-seeking allowance in the UK which was rejected. It should be noted that this case differs from other ECJ case law in this area as Collins was neither a national nor a resident of the UK and had in fact travelled to the UK in order to seek work.

The Court in this instance decided to depart from prior case law in which job-seeker issues had been ruled upon and looked towards the Treaty for guidance as Craig and De Burca tell us; ‘It is precisely the introduction of EU Citizenship in the Treaty which provided the Court with reason to depart from this earlier case law’20. The court found that the rights of job-seekers under Art 45 TFEU should be interpreted in the light of the more general right to equal treatment of citizens. In this the ECJ overruled its previous ruling in Lebon21 and decided that citizens of the Union could rely on Art. 45 of the Treaty to; ‘Benefit of a financial nature intended to facilitate access to employment in the labour market of a Member State’.

Therefore, the Court ruled that although it was a legitimate and perfectly legal act for a Member State to require that a job-seeker has genuine link to the job market and employment in the Member State in which he claims job-seeking allowance, it was not permissible under Union law for a residence condition to apply in a disproportionate and discriminatory way. Hence the UK had to justify on objective grounds the rejection of job-seeking allowance to Collins and show that the grounds were proportionate and legitimate and not merely on the grounds of national discrimination. This principle was reiterated in the case of Ioannidis22 where it was the same situation but a Greek national claiming job-seeking allowance in Belgium, which we will discuss later.

Further to the decision in Collins v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions23 the case of Trojani24 was brought to the ECJ where a French national had been given a temporary right to reside in Belgium and had this right taken away when he had claimed a ‘minimex’ payment (Belgium minimum wage guarantee) when entering a ‘personalised socio-occupational reintegration programme’ which gave him a small amount of money for the completion of odd jobs. The ECJ decided that due to the resident permit given to Trojani he could rely on Art. 18 TFEU. This opinion is the vital area of the case which was subsequently backed up in the case of Bidar25 in that it was shown that a non-economically active person could rely on Art. 18 TFEU when they have resided in a Member State for a certain amount of time or if they possess a resident permit (as in this case). In this case it was shown that Trojani had suffered direct discrimination on the grounds of his nationality with regards to the ‘Minimex’.

The case of Bidar26 has subsequently confirmed the principle set in Trojani27 to clarify the position for students studying in other Member States from which they are nationals when applying for student grants. This case concerned a student from being rejected a student loan in the UK on the grounds that he did not satisfy residency requirements in UK law. In this instance the Court found that the conditions in UK law were indirectly discriminatory as they placed non-UK nationals at a disadvantage as UK nationals would not be rejected from obtaining the loan. The court stated that if a student was lawfully residing in the host Member State then they fell within the scope of Art. 18 TFEU.

The ECJ also stated that although there was a need for state institutions which managed such things as student grants to be non-discriminatory with nationals of other Member States it was legitimate for a Member State to grant assistance only to; students who had demonstrated a certain degree of integration into the society of that state and students who had received a large part of their secondary in the host Member State (as was the case in D’Hoop28 where a Belgian national could rely on the Treaty provisions to claim a grant from Belgium even though she did not complete her secondary education there). Furthermore in Forster v IB Groep29 the ECJ clarified the degree of integration needed for students to claim financial support in that it was decided that a five year period of residence before a student is able to claim grants in a different Member State to which they are a national is unreasonable.

It should also be noted that in the case of Ioannidis30 it was held that it is against Art. 51 TFEU for a Member State to refuse an application of a tide over allowance to a national of another Member State who is seeking his first employment purely on the grounds that they completed their secondary education in another Member State.

A further decision which demonstrates the ECJ’s attempt to clarify the rights that EU Citizens enjoy and to promote in Member States a view to non-discriminatory measures is the case of Gottwald31 in which an Austrian law to allow disabled people to enjoy freedom from motorway tolls was brought into question. Gottwald (a German national) was denied the permit which would stop him from being tolled and brought the case to the ECJ. It was held that Gottwald was able to challenge the denial of the permit under Art 18 TFEU as it was said this applies to all cases falling within the scope of EU law.

A further issue which we will touch upon here to whether Citizenship of the Union has evolved to be far more than just a mechanism to enable economic participation is whether Citizenship of the Union can be invoked in a wholly internal situation. The recent case of Ruiz Zambrano v ONEM32 where third country nationals were the parents of a minor who had been morn in an EU Member State and therefore was a Citizen of the Union. The ECJ held that citizenship was not wholly bound up with movement between Member States. In this case it was said that parents could remain where they are the parents of Union citizens who are minors and have always lived within the Member State of their nationality. As Lansbergen and Miller tell us; ‘InRuiz Zambrano the Court recognised a right of residence of the family member of a European citizen by reason of the very nature of that status, thereby expanding the group of European citizens who may benefit from family reunification rights from those who have ‘moved’ to, in principle at least, all European citizens irrespective of cross-border movement’33

It would seem from this judgement as Craig and De Burca tell us; ‘certain factual situations which might otherwise have been considered as purely internal situations, are now considered to have a sufficient connection with EU Law due to the impact on certain rights enjoyed by virtue of the status of EU citizenship even in the circumstances involving a Member State national who has never exercised rights of movement outside that Member State, that situation will no longer be characterized as a wholly internal situation’34.

Conclusions

As we have seen through the development of the case law through the ECJ and through the concepts that surround Citizenship of the Union that so far a clear attempted has been made to make a difference to the life of those who come under the umbrella of EU citizenship. It certainly seems from the decisions in the ECJ that there is an attempt to break from the merely financial and economic nature and categories of the EU and that citizenship has developed as a parallel but different area of EU law to those purely economic mechanisms that exist within the EU.

However, although large strides have been made to improve the rights of nationals of Member States these rights as Craig and De Burca tell us; ‘not superseded or overshadowed the existing status categories under EU law’35 leaving the rights citizens enjoy to be thin and still to have a strong economic focus. It can be seen though that the positive growth of rights that are expanding for EU citizens at a steady and regular pace and are moving further and further from purely economic designs.


References

Books

Barnard C, The Substantive Law Of The EU; The Four Freedoms (OUP, 2010).

Chalmers D, Davies G, Monti G, Law (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Craig P, De Burca G, EU Law; Text, Cases and Materials (OUP, 2011).

Steiner J, L Woods, EU Law (OUP, 2009).

Williams A, The Ethos Of Europe – Values, Laws & Justice In The EU (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Journals

Dougan M, ‘Free Movement: The Workseeker As Citizen’ (2001) Cambridge Yearbook of European Studies.

Kostakopoulou D, ‘European Union Citizenship: Writing The Future’ (2007) 13(5) European Law Journal.

Lansbergen S, Miller N, ‘Europeancitizenshiprights in internal situations: an ambiguous revolution? Decisionof 8 March 2011, Case C-34/09 Gerardo Ruiz Zambrano v Office national de l'emploi (ONEM)’ (2011) European Constitutional Law Review.

O’Leary S, ‘Putting Flesh on the Bones of European Union Citizenship’ (1999) European Law Review.


1.) A Williams, The Ethos Of Europe – Values, Laws & Justice In The EU (1st edn, Cambridge University Press, 2010) 225

2.) C Barnard, The Substantive Law Of The EU; The Four Freedoms (3rd edn, OUP, 2010) 418

3.) M Dougan, ‘Free Movement: The Workseeker As Citizen’ (2001) 4 CYELS 93, 103

4.) D Chalmers, G Davies, G Monti, European Union Law (2nd end, Cambridge University Press, 2010) 446

5.) D Kostakopoulou, ‘European Union Citizenship: Writing The Future’ (2007) 13(5) European Law Journal 623

6.) P Craig, G De Burca, EU Law; Text, Cases and Materials (5th edn, OUP, 2011) 819

7.) P Craig, G De Burca, EU Law; Text, Cases and Materials (5th edn, OUP, 2011) 819

8.) (Case C-184/99) Grzelczyk v Centre public d’aide sociale d’Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve [2001] ECR I-6193, [31]

9.) (Case 316/85) Centre public d'aide sociale de Courcelles v Marie-Christine Lebon [1987] ECR 2811

10.) Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States

11.) (Case C-85/96) Martinez Sala v Freistaat Bayern [1998] ECR I-2691

12.) S O’Leary, ‘Putting Flesh on the Bones of European Union Citizenship’ (1999) 24 ELRev 68, 77

13.) J Steiner, L Woods, EU Law (10th edn, OUP, 2009) 547

14.) Case C – 456/02 Trojani v CPAS [2004] ECR I-7573

15.) Case C – 209/03 Bidar (R v London Borough of Ealing and Secretary of State for Education, ex parte Bidar) [2005] ECR I-2 119

16.) (Case C-184/99) Grzelczyk v Centre public d’aide sociale d’Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve [2001] ECR I-6193, [31]

17.) C Barnard, The Substantive Law Of The EU; The Four Freedoms (3rd edn, OUP, 2010) 445

18.) P Craig, G De Burca, EU Law; Text, Cases and Materials (5th edn, OUP, 2011) 837

19.) (Case C – 138/02) Collins v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2004] 2 CMLR 8

20.) P Craig, G De Burca, EU Law; Text, Cases and Materials (5th edn, OUP, 2011) 842

21.) (Case 316/85) Centre public d'aide sociale de Courcelles v Marie-Christine Lebon [1987] ECR 2811

22.) (Case C-258/04) Ioannidis [2005] ECR I-8275

23.) (Case C – 138/02) Collins v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2004] 2 CMLR 8

24.) Case C – 456/02 Trojani v CPAS [2004] ECR I-7573

25.) Case C – 209/03 Bidar (R v London Borough of Ealing and Secretary of State for Education, ex parte Bidar) [2005] ECR I-2 119

26.) Case C – 209/03 Bidar (R v London Borough of Ealing and Secretary of State for Education, ex parte Bidar) [2005] ECR I-2 119

27.) Case C – 456/02 Trojani v CPAS [2004] ECR I-7573

28.) Case – C – 224/98 D’Hoop v Office national de l’emploi [2002] ER I-6191

29.) Case – C 158/07 Forster v IB Groep (Hoofddirectie vn de Informatie Beheer Groep) [2008] ECR I-8507

30.) (Case C-258/04) Ioannidis [2005] ECR I-8275

31.) C – 103/08 Gottwald v Bezirkshautmannschft Bregenz [2010] 1CMLR 25

32.) Case C – 34/09 Ruiz Zambrano v ONEM (Office National de l'Emploi) [2009] OJ C90/15

33.) S Lansbergen, N Miller, ‘Europeancitizenshiprights in internal situations: an ambiguous revolution? Decisionof 8 March 2011, Case C-34/09 Gerardo Ruiz Zambrano v Office national de l'emploi (ONEM)’ (2011) E. C. L. Rev 304

34.) P Craig, G De Burca, EU Law; Text, Cases and Materials (5th edn, OUP, 2011) 833

35.) P Craig, G De Burca, EU Law; Text, Cases and Materials (5th edn, OUP, 2011) 847

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