(CN) – Chiding Ireland for withholding three years of family benefits from an unemployed Romanian immigrant, Europe’s highest court ruled Thursday that the law makes no demand on employment status to award such aid.
Eugen Bogatu did work in Ireland from 2003 to 2009, but received a contributory unemployment benefit from the Irish government for only one year after losing his job.
From April 2010 to January 2013, Bogatu received a noncontributory unemployment benefit, followed by a sickness benefit from 2013 to 2015.
When Bogatu submitted a further claim for family benefits, however, Irish authorities denied his claim with respect to the 2010-2013 period.
Bogatu has two children living in Romania, but Ireland said that he was not entitled to obtain benefits for them unless he was pursuing an activity as an employed person in Ireland or receiving a contributory benefit there.
Ireland’s High Court is handling Bogatu’s ensuing claim, but it put the case on hold to get input from the European Court of Justice.
On Thursday, that court’s Third Chamber sided with Bogatu.
“With regard specifically to family benefits, that objective is reflected by the use in Article 67 of Regulation No 883/2004 of the word ‘person’ where Article 73 of Regulation No 1408/71, which was succeeded by the former provision, refers to an ‘employed person,’” the ruling out of Luxembourg states. “In this respect, Article 67 of Regulation No 883/2004 reflects the intention of the EU legislature no longer to restrict the entitlement to family benefits solely to employed persons, but to extend it to other categories of person.”
The judges added later that, per Article 67 of Regulation No 883/2004, “in order to be eligible to receive family benefits in the competent member state, it is not necessary for a person either to pursue an activity as an employed person in that Member State or to be in receipt of cash benefits from that Member State because or as a consequence of such activity.”