Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 15:20
Court: European students not entitled to free Dutch public transit
Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston advised the European Union's Court of Justice to reject the European's commission's claim that the Netherlands is discriminating against European exchange students by not giving the access to a free Dutch public transit. According to the Advocate General, the Commission can not prove that this is the case. The advise is not binding, NU reports. The case revolves around a complaint filed in 2008 by a British student who was temporarily studying in the Netherlands trough the Erasmus Program. The European Commission claims that European students are treated differently than Dutch students in the Netherlands when it comes to subsidized transport. Dutch students can add a student travel product on the public transit card and thus travel partly for free and partly at a discount. European exchange students have to pay the full price. The Dutch State argues that the student travel product is part of a performance grant and should therefore be seen as a conditional loan. If a student gets his or her diploma on time, the student travel product is converted into a gift. The discount on is support towards livelihood. According to the State, Erasmus exchange students can not be compared to Dutch students. They stay enrolled at a college or university in their home country and pay no tuition or fees at a Dutch educational institution. The Erasmus program also gives them a grant to cover extra expenses. To prove discrimination, the Commission has to demonstrate that Dutch students and European exchange students are in a similar situation. In this specific case which involves an Erasmus program student, the Advocate General believes that the Commission did not do so sufficiently. Regular foreign students who are registered at a Dutch educational institution do find themselves in a similar situation to Dutch students, so in such cases the Court may determine whether they are being discriminated against, according to the Advocate General.