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Asylum seekers have to be able to find housing - on the private rental market if necessary - with the financial allowances granted to them by EU member states. Thus ruled the EU Court of Justice, on 27 February, in a case referred by Belgium (C-1/13).

The dispute pitted a family that had applied for asylum in Belgium, but was incapable of paying rent, against the country's federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers (Fedasil). As Fedasil was unable to provide accommodation for the family, it directed it to a public centre for social welfare. But the centre refused to grant housing aid, arguing that Fedasil was responsible for providing accommodation.

This aid, which can be provided by public assistance bodies, must "be sufficient to ensure a dignified standard of living adequate for the health of applicants [ ], maintain family unity and take account of the best interests of the child," pursuant to a 2003 directive(1).

Fedasil, which provided neither accommodation nor financial aid, was ordered by a Belgian court to pay the family almost 3,000 for the...

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