This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
In a landmark ruling by The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg today, The European Commission was stopped from making the UK refuse to distribute family welfare payments to EU nationals who do not have the right to reside in Britain.
The court rules that even though the UK Government policy does amount to “unequal treatment” it can be justified by the need to protect Britain’s national finances. The ruling will now allow Britain to continue requiring recipients of child benefit and child tax credit to have a right to reside in the UK. The Commission was arguing that the checking of whether claimants of child benefit and child tax credit were legally resident discriminated against foreign EU workers because British citizens were not checked in the same way.
The ruling has received appreciation by the pro-Remain campaigners, whereas Brexit campaigners have voiced their opinion against the influence of EU courts in British domestic policies. Anthea McIntyre MEP mentioned that “this is a victory for the UK and for common sense. It vindicates the Prime Minister’s stance, which has always been that free movement means freedom to work, not to claim benefits,” adding that “the Commission may have attempted to dictate to Britain, but it has been put in its place by the EU’s own institutions.” Whereas Brexit campaigner, Iain Duncan Smith, responded that “it’s absurd that we have to run every nut and bolt of domestic policy past Luxembourg, and then engage in lengthy and expensive court battles if they decide they don’t like what our democratically elected Government is doing.”