Cyprus Mail

Cyprus unaffected by ECJ ruling on ‘benefits tourism’

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou

By Constantinos Psillides

CYPRUS is not affected by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision on the so-called “benefits tourism”, since it already has safeguards in place to assure that only job seekers will receive unemployment benefits, said Labour and Social Insurance minister Zeta Emilianidou.

The ECJ has ruled in favour of Germany, in a case where the country denied unemployment benefits to a 25-year old Romanian woman that was in Germany since 2010, on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to suggest the woman ever actively looked for work.

In its ruling, the ECJ emphasised that while EU migrants had the right of residence in another EU country for up to three months, the country was under no obligation to pay social benefits during that period. If migrants stay for more than three months, but less than five years, right of residence was dependent on whether they have sufficient resources to support themselves or their family members.

Emilianidou said the decision was an important one, arguing that it validated the notion that immigrants should look for jobs and not benefits.

When it comes to Cyprus, the minister pointed out that for someone to be eligible for a guaranteed minimum income (GMI), that person must live in Cyprus for at least five years.

“When it comes to the unemployment benefit in particular, the law requires that the applicant submits his name and qualifications so the state can suggest possible employment opportunities, in order to discourage people who are only interested in receiving a cheque,” said Emilianidou.

The European Commission also responded to the ECJ ruling in a statement, saying that “it has consistently stressed that freedom of movement is about the right of circulation, not about an unrestricted right to claim benefits – and the European Court has confirmed this.”

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