EU Demands Italy Pay for Migrant Dependents Living Outside EU

Migrants stand at sunset onboard the Sea-Watch 4 civil sea rescue ship react on sea off the coast of Sicily, Italy, on August 31, 2020. - More than 350 migrants are onboard the Sea-Watch 4, after it took more than 150 people from the German-flagged MV Louise Michel rescue vessel …
THOMAS LOHNES/AFP via Getty Images

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has determined that Italy must pay for the dependents of migrants even if they do not live in the European Union.

EU judges stated that Italian legislation which allows Italians to claim benefits for dependents living abroad but which bars non-EU migrants from doing so was contrary to EU law. The court, therefore, ruled that non-EU citizens with residency permits or who are long-term residents are entitled to allowances for their families living outside of the bloc.

The decision was a result of a challenge between the National Social Security Institute and two non-European Union citizens, one from Sri Lanka and another from Pakistan, who lived and worked legally in Italy and have families living in their home countries, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.

Populist Senator Matteo Salvini, who heads Italy’s most popular party, the League (Lega), commented on the court’s statement, saying: “The Court of Justice of the EU establishes (and imposes on Italy) that non-EU citizens are entitled to allowances even for dependent family members living abroad outside the EU! Are they joking?”

The case comes after the European Commission brought up infringement procedures against Austria over a similar issue.

Austria attempted to index child benefits in 2019, which meant that child benefits would be paid according to the cost of living where the children lived so that if a migrant worker had children in a country with a lower cost of living than Austria, they would receive less money.

EU Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said of the Austrian proposal at the time: “When mobile workers contribute to a social security system in the same way as local workers, they must receive identical benefits, even when their children live abroad.”

Italy has seen a surge in migrants over the last several months, despite Wuhan virus outbreaks. Areas such as the island of Lampedusa continue to see waves of new migrants, most of whom come via Tunisia.

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