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5.5 Social Welfare for EU Students in a Host Member State

5.5 Social Welfare for EU Students in a Host Member State


Hi, welcome to the Education Law Virtual Classroom. In this lecture, we will talk about the claim for social welfare
of a EU citizen student in a host member state. The Grzelczyck case illustrates the development
in EU law relating to non-contributory social benefits for students as a result of European citizenship. By 1999, the European Court of Justice
had already stated that access to institutions and tuition fees
are subject to EU law. In 1999, a Belgian labour court referred
the question whether EU law would extend the right to social assistance
for students from another member state. The relevant facts were as follows: Rudy Grzelczyk
is a French national who moved to Belgium to study. This French national studied and worked on a part-time basis
for three years to help support himself in Belgium. At the beginning of his fourth and final year of study, he applied to the public welfare centre
for payment of the minimum subsistence allowance. It was denied on the basis that he was not Belgian. This constituted a clear discrimination
based on the nationality ground. The European Court of Justice emphasised
that the citizenship provisions prohibit discrimination as regards
the grant of a non-contributory social benefit to European Union citizens
where they are lawfully resident. It was within the discretion of the national court
to decide whether a request constituted under the particular circumstances of an individual,
a reasonable or an unreasonable burden. Article 21 has been declared
to be directly effective. These citizenship rights enable EU citizens
to be treated equally when they are a lawful resident, 
including not unreasonably welfare rights. According to the European Court of Justice, a reasonable burden
in particular of a temporary nature would be acceptable. Directive 2004/38 now firmly allows for free movement
not linked to any economic activity, but rather to having sufficient resources not
to become an unreasonable burden on the host state. However, the European Court of Justice judgment
did not prevent the host member state from deciding to withdraw the status of lawful residence
in case of the student becoming an unreasonable burden. But this decision would be subject to the proportionality review
of the European Court of Justice.

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