The advocate general for the European Court of Justice – Pedro Cruz Villalón – has revealed support for the UK’s current immigration policy, which sees EU migrants tested for their right to reside in the country and receive benefit payments.
Currently, the UK Government is in the middle of ongoing legal action after the European Commission argued that its system discriminates against EU migrants.
Typically, the full court in Europe makes decisions in line with its advisers’ opinions, and the advocate general’s statement – that the UK should be allowed to continue protecting its state budget – means that a final decision is likely to be made in the Government’s favour.
Westminster has denied claims that its system is discriminatory, stating that a habitual right of residence requirement means that benefits payments can be given only “to persons sufficiently integrated in the United Kingdom”.
Action was initially launched against the UK by the European Commission after citizens of other EU states complained that they were unable to claim social benefits in Britain due to not having a right of residence.
When commenting on the UK’s system, Mr Cruz Villalón said: “It is justified by the necessity of protecting the host member state’s public finances, as argued by the UK.”
His ruling also added that a host member state in the EU must be allowed to “satisfy itself that it is not granting those social benefits to persons to whom it is not obliged to grant them because they do not meet the conditions laid down.”
If the ruling is confirmed by the court, the European Commission will have no option but to abandon its case.