The Alimanovic case concerns a Swedish woman and her daughter who had worked in Germany less than a year, then lost their jobs. They sought a particular benefit in Germany, and the national court asked the CJEU if they were entitled to it.

During the period from 1 December 2011 to 31 May 2012, Ms Alimanovic was paid family allowances for her children Valentina and Valentino and, like her daughter Sonita, basic provision under Book II, namely subsistence allowances for the long-term unemployed (known as ‘Arbeitslosengeld II’), plus social allowances for beneficiaries unfit to work, those latter beneficiaries being her other two children. The benefits in question were  ‘social assistance’ benefits, not benefits relating to labour market access.

The provision of these benefits is ended after 6 months. The referring court states in particular that, according to the findings of the Social Court, Berlin, Ms Alimanovic and her daughter Sonita could no longer rely on a right of residence as workers under Paragraph 2 of the Law on freedom of movement. Since June 2010, they had worked only in temporary jobs lasting less than a year and, since May 2011, they had been neither workers nor self-employed.

The CJEU addressed the question of whether EU citizens who were previously briefly employed in the host State could be denied social assistance benefits. The Court ruled that they were not still covered by the Directive as former workers, since the Directive, Article 7(3)(c), says that those who work in the host State for less than one year retain ‘worker’ status for at least six months after becoming unemployed. After that point, a Member State can terminate their worker status, which means they are no longer covered by the equal treatment rule, and lose access to social assistance benefits.

The Court distinguished prior case law which requires an individual assessment of whether an EU citizen could be expelled or is an ‘unreasonable burden’ on the social assistance system of the host State. In this case, no such assessment was needed, because the citizens’ Directive already took account of the individual position of workers. The specific period of retaining worker status set out in the Directive and national law ensured legal certainty, ‘while complying with the principle of proportionality’.  When considering whether there was an ‘unreasonable burden’ on national systems, the individual claim did not count: rather the total of all claims would be ‘bound to’ constitute such a burden.


To read the full case, click here.

To read Steve Peers' (Professor of EU Law and Human Rights Law at the University of Essex) analysis, click here.

Court of Justice of the European Union
Free Movement