German court’s crucial verdict amid debate on Eastern European immigrants’ social rights

A court in the German land of Nord-Westphalia decided on November 28 that all Romanian citizens are entitled to social benefits based on the European principle of non-discrimination among EU citizens, a decision which comes amid a heated debate in Britain, France and Germany on Romanians and Bulgarians’ rights to social benefits as the two countries get full access to the EU labour market as of January.

On October 11, the same court reached a similar verdict in favour of a Romanian immigrant family who had sued the German state after it had been denied social benefits. After failing to find a job for a year, the family applied for social benefits, but the labour agency declined their request, which resulted in court action. The favourable verdict was a first in the land of Nord-Westphalia and pointed out “EU immigrants, who remain on German territory after failing to find a job for objective reasons, are entitled to the minimum welfare”.

The verdict early October vexed German interior minister Hans-Peter Friederich, who warned that the court decision risks sparking an influx of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria to Germany.

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(Photo: Jason Morrison)