The European court of justice (ECJ) has ruled that Germany can refuse welfare benefits to EU migrants if they have never held a job in the country.

In a landmark ruling on “benefit tourism” that could set an EU-wide legal precedent, the Luxembourg court announced on Tuesday that “economically inactive” migrants from other EU nations can be refused German unemployment benefits under certain conditions.

David Cameron’s office said it would look very closely at the ruling and argued that it vindicated the prime minister’s moves to restrict benefits to EU migrants.

“I think one of the things that it underlines has been that the freedom of movement, as the prime minister and others have said, is not an unqualified right,” Cameron’s spokesman said. “We will look very carefully at what we and other governments can do working together in response to this judgment.”

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