Italy’s Constitutional Court, the highest court in matters of constitutional law, has ruled that migrants with work permits of just six months or more are entitled to receive government welfare benefits which include baby bonuses and maternity allowances.
The decision to extend these pro-family social welfare benefits to migrants with short-term work permits came after Italian constitutional court judges found previous laws, which made long-term residency a prerequisite to qualify for the baby bonus and maternity allowance, to be unconstitutional and at odds with EU law, the Milan-based newspaper Il Giornale reports.
In addition to ruling that the previous laws were incompatible with two articles—Article 3 and Article 31 of the Italian Constitution—which deal with equality before the law and the principle of maternity protection, respectively, judges determined the previous laws also infringed upon Article 34 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which states: “Everyone residing and moving legally within the European Union is entitled to social security benefits and social advantages in accordance with Union law and national laws and practices.”
Originally established in 2015, Italy’s childbirth allowance—often referred to as the baby bonus—provides a monthly allowance to new mothers or families for each child born, adopted, or in pre-adoptive foster care. The allowance—a sum which ranges between 80 and 160 euros based on the family’s income—is paid every month during the first year of the newborn baby’s life or for the first year which follows a child’s entry into a family unit following adoption or pre-adoption foster care.
The court’s ruling comes just a few weeks after the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) published a report which revealed that Italian birthrates had sunk to 1.16 births per woman in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic–the lowest rate ever recorded.
By extending maternity and paternity benefits to short term migrants, the Italian state, presently led by the leftist banker Mario Draghi, will help to further the policy known as ‘replacement migration,’ which is often put forward by liberal politicians as a solution to Europe’s low birth rates and aging population.