October 27, 2016

EU court backs Britain over child benefit residency rule

EU flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels

The European Union’s top court ruled on Tuesday that Britain can deny family allowances to foreign workers with children living abroad, one of the hot-button issues in Britain’s looming referendum on EU membership.

The European Court of Justice said a rule that makes allowances conditional on the right to reside in Britain might amount to discrimination, but could be justified by a need to protect public finances.

The European Commission had argued that the British process of checking whether claimants of child benefit and child tax credit are legally resident discriminates against foreign EU workers because British citizens are not checked in that way.

The court said the condition did not go beyond what is necessary to attain the objective of protecting its finances.

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