Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Frans Pennings and Gijsbert Vonk
Chapter 16: EU migrants and destitution: The ambiguous EU objectives
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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