CJEU delivers judgment in case about rights under the EU Accession Treaty

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The CJEU has handed down its judgment in Case C-618/16 Prefeta, on the ability of accession state nationals to access social welfare rights during the accession period. Mr Prefeta is a Polish national who was resident and working in the United Kingdom during the transitional period, and the extension to that period, following the accession of Poland to the EU. He was legally required under domestic transitional provisions made under the Accession Treaty to register his employment. Under the Accession Treaty, Member States were entitled to restrict access to rights under Articles 1-6 of Regulation 492/2011 (the Workers Regulation, replacing the original Regulation 1612/68) to Polish workers who had not been admitted to the labour market for 12 months. Mr Prefeta completed more than 12 months' employment, but only approximately two months of it were registered. After he was injured at work and became involuntarily unemployed, the question arose whether he could rely on retained rights under Article 7(3) of Directive 2004/38/EC (the Citizens Directive) to access social advantages under Article 7(2) of the Workers Regulation. Two questions on these issues were referred to the CJEU by the Upper Tribunal. A hearing took place in January 2018. The Court held that the Accession Treaty had to be interpreted as permitting, during the transitional period, the United Kingdom to exclude a Polish national such as Mr Prefeta, from the benefits of Article 7(3) of the Citizens Directive when that person did not satisfy the requirement imposed by national law of having completed an uninterrupted 12-month period of registered work in the UK. The UK’s exclusion of such individuals from the benefits of Article 7(3) of the Citizens Directive is, thus, lawful. In those circumstances, the second referred question did not need to be answered. A link to the judgment is here. Richard Drabble QC represented Mr Prefeta; David Blundell represented the United Kingdom.

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