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The already heated debate in Germany about migration from poor EU countries could flare up again following a recent decision by a social court in Dortmund to grant welfare to a family from Spain. The court, for the first time, factually accepted the supremacy of EU law, even though EU Court of Justice (ECJ) has yet to announce its verdict on the matter. On 6 February, the German judges decided that the Spanish couple with four children would receiveawith immediate effect 1,033 per month in social payments, equal to what Germans would pocket under the same circumstances.

The judgement runs counter to German law, which in principle denies foreigners who are looking for a job whilst in Germany the right to collect benefits. But the court argued that there are "major doubts about the compatibility with common European law of the exclusion of EU citizens". Weighing this legal conflict and the welfare status of the family, the court decided in favour of the Spaniards, who would otherwise "have existential disadvantages".

Social law expert Ludwig Zimmermann from Potsdam told Europolitics Social that the decision by the court in Dortmund would make it more likely for EU citizens to be successful with their applications from now on, even though in the past the courts had decided differently on this matter. "Ultimately, the call will be made by the EU Court of Justice," he said.

The highest German social court, the Bundessozialgericht, forwarded a similar case to the ECJ in December 2103. Legal experts have little doubt about the outcome of the judges' deliberation. In a comment addressed to the ECJ, the Commission has argued recently that Germany cannot deny social support to jobless EU nationals without violating...

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