On April 1st the European Court of Justice invalidated provisions of a state-supported Flemish health care insurance program that entitles residents of the Dutch-speaking region and the bilingual capital district to reimbursement for health care assistance expenses.
The tripartite Belgian federal system– composed of the Flemish Government, the Walloon Government, and the Government of the French Community– is constructed along ethnic lines, and the Flemish insurance program does not extend to the French or Walloons. The French and Walloon governments brought a suit against the Flemish government in the Belgian Constitutional Court, who then referred questions to the ECJ.
The ECJ reaffirmed that it cannot intervene in purely internal matters and therefore could not address the benefits accorded to French and Walloon Belgians working in Flemish areas who have not come under the purview of Community law by exercising their right to free movement. However, the Court noted that the scheme restricted the free movement of workers in violation of the EC Treaty by denying benefits to nationals of other Member States working in the Flemish area but living in another region of Belgium, as well as to Belgian nationals in the same position who have exercised their right to free movement. The Court found no legitimate justification for the exceptional treatment. It also suggested the Belgian court itself might have cause to invalidate the remaining portion of the law based on its internal discriminatory effects.
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