Family allowances: safeguards or discrimination?

By Camille FratiLex KlerenMarc Lazzarini Switch to French for original article

Two years after the EU Court of Justice's ruling that criticised Luxembourg's legislation on family allowances, the law that was meant to correct the situation has still not been adopted. It must be said that the operation is delicate and that the government is expected to do well in the Grand Duchy as well as at European level.

This is not the first time that Luxembourg has suffered the unpleasantness of being condemned by the judges of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) – whose golden towers can be seen from the top of the Ministry of Family Affairs in Hamm. However, whether it was the successive rulings on scholarships (2013, 2016, 2019) or the Berlioz ruling (2017) enshrining the right of taxpayers to challenge the provision of tax information to a foreign tax authority, the response had been rather, if not very, quick in order to show the Grand Duchy's goodwill and readiness to fall in line. Concerning the last ruling related to scholarships, the Ministry of Higher Education and Research had even anticipated a probable condemnation and presented a new reform the day after the ruling.

This was not the case for the 2016 reform of family allowances, a clause of which was deemed discriminatory by the CJEU in its ruling of April 2, 2020. Indeed, since the entry into force of this reform, stepchildren of frontier workers were excluded from the beneficiaries of family allowances on the grounds that they were not the biological or adopted children of these workers. Whereas before 2016 they were considered part of the "family group" of these workers who contribute to the Joint Social Security Centre in the same way as residents.

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