Table of Contents

Research Handbook on European Social Security Law

Research Handbook on European Social Security Law

Research Handbooks in European Law series

Edited by Frans Pennings and Gijsbert Vonk

This Handbook encompasses four dimensions of European social security law: social security as a human right, standard setting in social security, the protection of mobile persons and migrants and the global context of European social security law. It pays attention to both EU law and to various instruments of the Council of Europe. In 25 chapters prominent experts analyse contemporary debates, discuss new challenges and point out further lines of research. Through this exploration, the Handbook provides a source of inspiration for the development of this special field of law.

Chapter 16: EU migrants and destitution: The ambiguous EU objectives

Herwig Verschueren

Subjects: law - academic, european law, law and society


The right of EU citizens to move freely within the EU Member States has evolved from a right for economically active persons within the context of Europe’s economic integration to a right for all EU citizens whether or not they are economically active. In parallel, the fight against poverty and social exclusion is supposed to be at the core of the EU’s political agenda. Yet, the right to free movement of economically non-active persons and to equal treatment with the host State’s citizens with regard to social benefits is subject to them having sufficient resources so as not to become an unreasonable burden on the host State’s social assistance system. As a result, in practice the right to free movement could very well become impossible for indigent people, which would amount to ambiguity between these two policy goals. The issue is also high on the political agenda. In April 2013 the Ministers of the Interior of four Member States (Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK) sent a letter to the Irish Council presidency asking for an urgent discussion on the EU rules regarding the access of Union citizens recently arrived in another Member State to social benefits in that State. On 14 October 2013 the Commission published a study on this issue.

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