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Commission requests United Kingdom to end discrimination of EU nationals residing in the UK regarding their rights to specific social benefits

29/09/2011 Commission requests United Kingdom to end discrimination of EU nationals residing in the UK regarding their rights to specific social benefits

EU nationals who habitually reside in the UK are subject to the so-called 'right to reside' test to qualify for certain social security benefits. As this test indirectly discriminates non-UK nationals coming from other EU Member States it contravenes EU law.

This is why the European Commission has requested the United Kingdom to stop its application. The request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion" under EU infringement procedure.

The UK has two months to inform the Commission of measures it has taken to bring its legislation into line with EU law. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the UK to the EU's Court of Justice.

EU rules on the social security coordination (Regulation EC 883/2004) allow the UK to grant social benefits only to those persons who habitually reside in the UK, however Article 4 of this Regulation prohibits indirect discrimination through the requirement for non-UK citizens to pass an additional right to reside test.

Any discrimination in providing social security benefits (including non-contributory cash benefits) also constitutes an obstacle to free movement guaranteed by Article 21 of the Treaty.

Under UK law, certain social security benefits - namely Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, State Pension Credit, Income-based Allowance for Jobseekers, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance - are only granted to persons with a "right to reside" in the UK.

While UK nationals have the right to reside solely based on their UK citizenship, other EU nationals have to fulfil additional conditions in order to pass a so-called 'right to reside' test. This means the UK indirectly discriminates against nationals from another Member State.

Photo: © Jozsef Szasz-Fabian under license of Shutterstock.com