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Non-EU nationals entitled to social benefits: EU Court

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Non-EU nationals entitled to social benefits: EU Court

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(LUXEMBOURG) - A non-EU national holding a single work permit in a Member State enjoys, as a general rule, the social security benefits provided for that state's nationals, the EU's top Court ruled on Wednesday.

A national of a non-EU country living in Italy with her three minor children, Mrs Kerly Del Rosario Martinez Silva, holds a single work permit valid for longer than six months.

She applied in 2014 to the Italian national security system INPS for a benefit provided for by Italian law for households with at least three minor children and with income below a certain limit (EUR 25,384.91 in 2014).

Her claim was refused on the grounds that, in the case of nationals of non-EU countries, Italian law does not allow that benefit to be granted to holders of a single work permit, but only to political refugees, persons with subsidiary protection status, and holders of a long-term residence permit.

The tribunal in Genoa dismissed her action. But the court of appeal, doubting the compatibility of Italian rules with EU law, asked the European Court of Justice to interpret the directive on the single residence and work permit for non-EU workers.

By today's judgement the Court found, first, that the benefit claimed by Mrs Martinez Silva is a social security benefit which is among the family benefits referred to by the EU regulation on the coordination of social security systems.

The Court also examined whether a Member State such as Italy can exclude nationals of a non-EU country holding a single work permit from such a benefit.

The Court observed that it follows from the directive that nationals of non-EU countries who have been admitted to a Member State for the purpose of work in accordance with EU or national law must in particular enjoy equal treatment with nationals of that State.

That is the case of a national of a non-EU country holding a single work permit, since that permit allows that person to reside lawfully in the territory of the Member State which has issued it, in order to work there.

The Court pointed out that the right to equal treatment is the general rule and that the directive lists the derogations from that right which the Member States have the option of establishing. However, the provisions of the Italian legislation cannot be regarded as establishing those derogations.

It follows that the directive precludes national legislation under which a national of a non-EU country holding a single work permit cannot receive a social security benefit such as the family benefit claimed by Mrs Martinez Silva.

Judgement in Case C-449/16 - Kerly Del Rosario Martinez Silva v Istituto nazionale della previdenza sociale - (INPS) and Comune di Genova


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