Social benefits within the EU

Free movement of workers and freedom of settlement as fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Single Market generally enable EU citizens to move, reside and settle freely in every Member State of the European Union. This is to guarantee that all EU citizens can move as freely within the Union as within their home country.

This general freedom of movement is put into more concrete terms by implementation provisions, particularly by the Free Movement Directive (Directive 2004/38/EC). In line with this directive, the right of residence in a EU Member State that is not your home country is in principle linked to two conditions:

  • sufficient financial means to ensure that this person can make a living
  • a valid health insurance.

The objective pursued by this provision is to prevent “benefit tourism”, i.e. that an individual resides in an EU Member State for the sole purpose of drawing social benefits in this state.

For more detailed information on the coordination of social security systems (EU Social Security Coordination) and eligibility criteria for benefits, please visit the website of the European Commission.