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EU law and eligibility for assistance

This content applies to England

The relevant provisions of EU law for eligibility to homelessness assistance.

EU/EC Treaty Articles

The relevant Articles of the consolidated Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),[1] formerly the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (TEC),[2] in respect of eligibility for homelessness assistance are:

  • Article 18 TFEU (formerly Article 12 TEC) - prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of nationality
  • Article 20 TFEU (formerly Article 17 TEC) - citizenship of the EU
  • Article 21 TFEU (formerly Article 18 TEC) - right to freely move and reside within the territory of the EU
  • Article 45 TFEU (formerly Article 39 TEC) - freedom of movement for workers
  • Articles 49, 56 and 57 TFEU (formerly Articles 43, 49 and 50 TEC respectively) - freedom to establish and provide services, including the right to pursue activities as a self-employed person.

EU/EC Regulations

The relevant EU Regulations are:

  • Regulation (European Economic Community) 1612/68 - freedom of movement for workers, families and equality of treatment (referred to hereafter as the Workers' Regulation). Title 2 to the Regulation provides that 'workers' are entitled to the same tax and social advantages as nationals of the host state. The introduction to the Regulation specifically includes housing assistance. This Regulation has been amended by the EC Directive 2004/38/EC (the Citizenship Directive) which extends the definition of family member (see Citizenship Directive below).
  • Regulation (European Economic Community) 1251/70 - right of workers to remain in a Member State after having been employed in that state. The Regulation is similar to the Workers' Regulation above and is replicated in the Citizenship Directive.

The Citizenship Directive

Directive 2004/38/EC allows citizens of the EU and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.[3]

The Citizenship Directive introduced new rights as well as consolidated and repealed previous Directives covering the rights of self-employed people, retired people, former workers and self-employed people who are permanently or temporarily incapacitated, self-sufficient people, and recipients of services. It also governs rights-of-entry documentation and temporary and permanent residence in the UK.

The Directive was implemented (ie given effect) in the UK by the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations.[4] It should be noted that although the Citizenship Directive strictly applies to EU nationals only, the UK Regulations also cover EEA and Swiss nationals.


The legislative references and the footnotes on this page reflect the law in England. In Wales, very similar rules made under Welsh legislation apply, but the references may be different. Contact Shelter Cymru for more information about the law in Wales.

[1] Treaty of Maastricht, as amended by the Treaties of Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon.

[2] Treaty of Rome.

[3] Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States amending Regulation (EEC) no.1612/68, repealing Directives 64/221/EEC, 68/360/EEC, 72/194/EEC, 73/148/EEC,75/34/EEC, 75/35/EEC, 90/364/EEC, 90/365/EEC and 93/96/EEC.

[4] Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052; prior to 1 February 2017, Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1003, as amended.

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