SOLANGE MASLOWSKI CYIL 7 ȍ2016Ȏ labour market of older Member States. The economic dimension of these restriction periods was clear as they just concern nationals of Central and Eastern European countries, leaving apart nationals of Malta and Cyprus. Similarly, the financial and economic crisis has led to increasing the economic imbalance between the 28th Member States (mainly between Northern and Eastern and Southern Europe). Consequently, a certain part of nationals of Southern and Eastern Member States have moved to the northern and western part of Europe seeking employment. Among these some who had found work in the host Member States lost their jobs after the crisis. – New behaviors and requirements from the host Member States These phenomena had a considerable impact on the host Member States’ vision of Freedom of movement of Union citizens. Richer Member States became reluctant to accept economically inactive Union citizens and to provide social assistance. They are afraid that these citizens will become unreasonable burdens on their social assistance system. This fear has led to the misuse of Articles 7 and 24 of Directive 2004/38/EC by certain Member States. • Abuse of Member States’ expulsion powers Some Member States are interpreting the request for social assistance from Union citizens on the move as a declaration of non-self-sufficiency. And, following this reasoning, they consider them as not legal residents and then as eligible for expulsions. This has been a common practice in Belgium, where three thousand Union citizens were expelled in 2013 on the grounds of lacking sufficient financial resources. Such practice has been clearly forbidden by the European Commission, the Court of Justice and Article 14-3 of Directive 2004/38/EC. 36 The direct link made between a request for social assistance and non-self-sufficiency by certain Member States has been criticized by the Court, which states that social assistance and grants are provided to promote a variety of different policy objectives non-related to the principle of self-sufficiency. Indeed, even self-sufficient persons are applying for social assistance, for example, family benefits. Linking these two elements directly is very dangerous, because it leads the Member State to use the most severe sanction against Union citizens, expulsion from its territory. • Requirements for reforming freedom of movement of persons Certain Member States are of the opinion that the current provisions of freedom of movement are too liberal and endanger national interests. The propositions for
36 Application to social assistance or student grants does not mean automatically non-self-sufficiency (Commission v Austria C-75/11, para. 58) and it should not lead automatically to an expulsion measure (Article 14-3 of Directive 2004/38/EC).