Year: 2012 (Date of Decision: 15 February, 2012)
Forum, Country: Supreme Court; Denmark
Standards, Rights: Core content; Non-discrimination and equal protection of the law; Margin of discretion; Right to an adequate standard of living; Right to social security; Migrants
Summary Background: After having been granted refugee status in 2003, the applicant received ‘Start Help’ benefits (reduced unemployment benefits) until 2007, instead of regular unemployment benefits, which could only be granted to persons who had spent at least seven years in Denmark.
He claimed that this violates article 75.2 of the Constitution, which obliges the State to help those who cannot support themselves. Moreover, he alleged a violation of article
Holding: The Supreme Court found that article 75.2 of the Constitution entails an obligation for the State to ensure a minimum level of existence for persons covered by it. However, the court found that the size of the ‘Start Help’ and other benefits that the applicant received were sufficient to satisfy this provision. With regard to the ECHR, the Court noted that it leaves the States wide discretion to determine matters of social and economic policy. Therefore, the Court held that ‘Start Help’ did not constitute indirect discrimination in contravention to article 14 ECHR in conjunction with article 1 Protocol 1 ECHR.
Additional Comments: ‘Start Help’ was abolished in December 2011 and the regular unemployment benefits may now be obtained even if the person in question has not resided in Denmark for a specified period of time.