D was a Belgian national who was refused the ‘tideover’ allowance when seeking her first job in Belgium on the grounds that she had completed her secondary education in France. ECJ held that this was unlawful discrimination on the grounds of nationality and infringed freedom of movement: a citizen was entitled to free movement (article 18) and equal treatment (article 12), which were infringed by the secondary education rule: Free movement was infringed because the rule would deter a person from actually exercising this right lest they suffer financial disadvantage. Equal treatment is infringed because the rule would discriminate against those from other MSs. Such a condition could only be justified where it sought to achieve a legitimate aim, not connected with nationality, where necessary, and provided the measure was proportionate. While the aim of helping young people make the transition between university and work, while ensuring a real link with the national labour market, is legitimate, the sole condition of where one does one’s secondary education goes beyond what is necessary (and may not even be ‘suitable’ for achieving this aim, given that people might leave Belgium as soon as they leave university).
ECJ: “Union citizenship is destined to be the fundamental status of nationals of the Member States, enabling those who find themselves in the same situation to enjoy within the scope ratione materiae of the Treaty the same treatment in law irrespective of their nationality, subject to such exceptions as are expressly provided for… The situations falling within the scope of Community law include those involving the exercise of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Treaty, in particular those involving the freedom to move and reside within the territory of the Member States.” It is incompatible with this for an EU citizen to be treated less favourably on the grounds of having exercised his right to move.