Single allowance, EU sends infringement letter to Italy: what are the reasons

Brussels sent a letter to Rome with a reasoned opinion contesting the measure for families adopted last March: “It does not treat European citizens fairly, it violates community law”. The Italian government now has two months to respond and take countermeasures, otherwise it risks being referred to the EU Court of Justice

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The EU Commission has sent the Italian government a letter with a reasoned opinion contesting the single allowance introduced in March last year. Sending the letter entails the advancement of the infringement procedure against Rome. According to Brussels, “the legislation violates EU law as it does not treat European citizens fairly, which qualifies as discrimination”.

The motivation

As it explains in more detail in the letter, the Commission claims to have decided to send the reasoned opinion to Italy on the single and universal allowance for dependent children, introduced in March 2022, due to non-compliance with EU rules on the matter coordination of social security and free movement of workers. The Italian law highlights that only those who reside in Italy for at least two years can benefit from it, and only if they live in the same family unit as their children. According to the opinion of the community executive, this legislation violates EU law, since it does not treat citizens of the Union fairly, therefore qualifying as discrimination. The Regulation on social security coordination, the Commission recalls, also prohibits any residency requirement for the purposes of receiving social security benefits, such as family allowances. Brussels had sent a letter of formal notice in February 2023 to which Italy responded in June. The community executive now explains that it believes that “the response does not satisfactorily address its findings”. What happens now? Italy has two months to respond and take the necessary measures, after which the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

The numbers

During the day, the Single Allowance Observatory announced the numbers of the measure: between January and September, 6,308,756 families received at least one month’s single allowance from INPS in relation to 9,847,719 children and for an expense in the period of 13.416 billion. In the month of September alone, 5,846,269 families received the check, for a cost of 1.466 billion. The INPS underlines that in September the average amount per requesting family was 254 euros but for families with one child the average was 140 euros (around 2.9 million families) and for those with over six children ( 3,543 nuclei) of 1,818 euros. There were 2.17 million requesting families with two children for an average amount of 306 euros. For the 414,621 families requesting the allowance for three children, the overall average amount was 606 euros. The average amount in September for individual children of families without citizenship income was 160 euros with differences linked to family income. On average, for each child, families received 214 euros if included in the ISEE class up to 16,125 euros (over 4.14 million children) and 53 euros in the case of a range higher than 43,240 euros (54 in the case of ISEE not presented). They did not present the ISEE and had the minimum family contribution for almost 1.88 million children. In the Isee class between 16,216 and 21,620 euros there are approximately 1.02 million children with an average allowance of 196 euros per child.